One day in November last year, I jumped on the number 49 bus to head to Rosewell, a village just outside Edinburgh. There's a well-known auction house there and every Thursday there would be a small auction taking place.
On this particular occasion, some of the lots seemed to me to be just a load of old junk. But, as the saying goes, one person's rubbish is another person's treasure. Bidding took place on site and there were no internet bids to compete with. As a result, it was possible to bag myself a wee bargain.
Well, so I thought. For the grand total of £21.78 (my winning bid including commission and VAT), I picked up a lot of four bottles. Two were of wine (Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Beaujolais from the 1980s) and were pretty ropey looking to say the least. The other two were bottles of Grant's Standfast; one from the 1970s, the other from the 80s.
On average this works out at £5.45 per bottle and, with minimum pricing in place here in Scotland, I think this probably broke licensing law. I don't know if auction houses are in some way exempt from these rules but I think not.
Anyway, I've yet to open the wine and, to be honest, it looks that dodgy I doubt I ever will. But they weren't really the reason behind the purchase; it was the whisky I was really after.
'Then and now' comparisons are always interesting and, not being that familiar with the Grant's range - it's one I've definitely overlooked over the years - I started off by trying the Grant's Standfast from the 70s and today's Grant's Family Reserve side by side. Here we go:
Nose: initially very pleasant; soft sherry notes; after a wee while, there's a slight grainy nose burn to it; sweet malty note; Toffee Pennies.
Palate: quite a thin texture but not as thin as I was expecting; a bit harsh on the roof of the mouth; hints of vanilla fudge and Toffee Pennies; slight ginger note; the finish is fairly short.
Nose: dusty; dry; hint of lemon; something a bit foosty in the background; left to breathe for a while and light sherry notes appear; something quite vinegary throughout.
Palate: really thin texture at first which doesn't improve; there's hardly anything to this; there's the slightest hint of ginger with dark chocolate appearing into the finish which is fairly long (surprisingly); not undrinkable but not great at all.
Grant's Family Reserve can be found in supermarkets for around the £15 mark. At that price, I wouldn't expect too much. However, as with the Teachers I reviewed in a previous blog post, it wasn't as painful as I thought it would be. It's actually pretty decent for that sort of money. On the other hand, the Grant's Standfast was just rank. I think it's safe to say that something's gone a bit awry with the whisky whilst it's been in the bottle all these years.
This is a risk you take when buying bottles at auction. Even when buying from so-called reputable specialist whisky auctions, I've had a few dud bottles. You can never be sure where and how they've been stored and until you open them, which I guess many never do with the more expensive 'wins', you don't know if there's been a detrimental effect on the taste.
Thankfully, I didn't exactly shell out a fortune on this. And there's still the Grant's Standfast from the 80s so we'll see how that fares in a future comparison.
Sign up for news and special offers!