Here's what makes an 18-year-old single malt the Roger Federer of whiskies

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If you love whisky, then one name looms large in guiding you to the very best to drink – Jim Murray.

For the last 15 years, the bearded 61-year-old English journalist has produced Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, his highly anticipated and influential annual assessment of the world’s leading drams.

Murray’s influence is such that when he declares a whisky worth chasing down, global shortages occur.

The 2019 edition of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible has just been released and features more than 4,600 entries, including 1,200 new ones, so to stand out from the pack is a remarkable achievement.

Murray tries every whisky himself, scoring them out of 100.

To stand out three years in a row is a remarkable achievement, up there with sports champions such as tennis ace Roger Federer.

For the third year in a row, Speyside distillery Glen Grant and its Aged 18 Years Rare Edition single malt has been declared Scotch Whisky of the Year and Single Malt of the Year (Multiple Casks).

The Glen Grant Aged 18 Years received the same awards in the 2017 and 2018 editions and for the last three years, Murray’s place it in the top three whiskies in the world – the top slot has gone to American whiskies over the last three years with the Glen Grant in 2nd place this year.

The single malt is matured in first and second fill Bourbon casks and remade hogsheads for at least 18 years, delivering a mesmerising golden colour with floral and oaky aromas, delivering a long finish with notes of spices and nuts.

Murray didn’t hold back in his praise for the Rare Edition, declaring: “Once more the stunning Glen Grant 18 Year Old single malt carried the banner for Scotland, displaying Speyside Whisky in its most sparkling light.”

He scored it 97 out of 100 points, saying the Glen Grant’s nose was “so in tune and well balanced”, going on to call the 18-year-old single malt “the most crystalline, technically sublime Speysider I have tasted in a very long time”.

Tasting it delivers a complex blend of malted caramel, vanilla, and raisins before a long spicy finish.

To be singled out yet again by Murray was a thrill for Master Distiller, Dennis Malcolm, whose association with the distillery founded by brothers John and James ‘The Major’ Grant in 1840, dates back to the day he was born in 1946 on the distillery grounds.

He now has more than 55 years of experience in the industry having started out at Glen Grant as an apprentice cooper in 1961.

He returned to Glen Grant in 2006, and in 2016 he created and launched three new editions, Glen Grant 12 Year Old, 12 Year Old Non-Chill-Filtered and 18 Year Old.

Malcolm’s vision has been handsomely rewarded by Murray, who declares, in his gentle Scottish brogue, that the team are “thrilled” to have the best Scotch whisky three times back-to-back.

“With all of the incredible whiskies that come from our wee corner of the world, winning this award three times in a row is a remarkable honor,” he says.

“We take so much pride in creating our unique golden liquid, and we’re proud to see that the consistent quality of these beautiful products continues to be recognized by industry legends like Jim Murray.”

Of course, the tall, slender stills James Grant hand-designed play their part in that success, along with a key innovation “The Major” also introduced – purifiers.

Glen Grant is the only distillery to use purifiers in both its distillations, ensuring only purest vapour passes from the still to the condenser to create a fresh and light whisky.

Luckily a small allocation of Glen Grant 18 Year Old makes its way to Australia every year and for any whisky buff who wants to taste the ultimate in scotch according to the guru on the very best, you should be able to find a bottle in time for Christmas from Dan Murphy’s, First Choice, Vintage Cellars stores or select Independent cellars.

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