Boozy Desserts: Glen Grant Five Decades + Whisky Bread Pudding

bread pudding whisky scotch single malt recipe Glen Grant

Part of my aim in writing this blog is to bring good food and whisky together. When asked to review a new expression from Glen Grant, I took it as an opportunity to engage in one of my favorite kitchen pastimes: boozy baking. And since I had most of an unwanted loaf of Italian bread going stale, I decided to whip up a whisky bread pudding. With whisky sauce. To enjoy with more whisky.

Now, I did NOT use the lovely Glen Grant sample in this recipe. I never use “real” whisky (e.g. a nice single malt) in cooking, Brenne-infused mulled wine notwithstanding. I used what I had on hand, which was Grants, but you can use any cheap blended whisky or, heck, any dark spirit you want. Bourbon, brandy, rum—go wild! But please, please don’t use your good stuff. Save that to enjoy with the food.

whisky whiskey bread pudding recipe

Bread pudding is ridiculously easy to make. Bread, sugar, eggs, cream. Throw in some vanilla, baking spices, nuts, raisins or other fruit, chocolate chips, whatever—you can’t mess it up. It’s a great dessert for company, too, because you can make a whole pan (or portion into little ramekins) and feed a crowd. Plus, you get to serve it with hard sauce, which is butter, sugar, and booze, and tastes like the topping at Cinnabon only way better, because booze.

Glen Grant’s new Five Decades expression pairs nicely with bread pudding, complementing it with a light creaminess, notes of nutmeg, and sweet raisiny undertones. In fact, next time I might add raisins or currants to further draw out the dried fruit in the malt.

Glen Grant V Decades - Image courtesy of Exposure

Glen Grant Five Decades
Nose: Sweet with strong vanilla and honey with icing sugar and an undertone of stone fruits, especially fresh cherries, and a hint of nutmeg.

Palate: Gentle at first, with a creamy sweetness that progressed to warm spiciness and finished with toasted, buttered nuts and lingering spice. As the dram opened up, I got notes of minerals, birch bark, and cherry syrup, plus some orange peel dipped in dark chocolate. It was very easy drinking, and more complex than the nose suggested.

Glen Grant just released this whisky as a celebration of their Master Distiller, Dennis Malcolm, who began his career at their cooperage in 1963. Malcolm selected casks from each of the last five decades to create the limited-edition expression priced around $250.

whisky whiskey bread pudding recipe

Whisky Bread Pudding
Ingredients:
– 1 loaf Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes and allowed to go stale
– 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
– 4 large eggs
– 1 cup white sugar
– 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
– 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
– 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
– 2 tsp. vanilla extract
– 3 Tbs. whisky (e.g. Grants)
– 1 cup heavy cream
– 3 cups half and half
– 1/2 cup raisins or currants (optional)

Directions: 
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (175° C). Grease a 9″x13″ glass baking dish. Melt the butter and toss with the bread, coating thoroughly.

2. Beat eggs and both sugars until well blended. Add spices, vanilla, and whisky. Blend in cream and half and half until thoroughly mixed. Gently mix in raisins, if using.

3. Toss bread chunks with cream mixture and pour into baking dish, ensuring each chunk is well saturated. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until liquid has set. (It will still be bubbling, though.) Serve warm with butterscotch or hard sauce.

Thanks to Nick at Exposure for the sample of Glen Grant Five Decades.

Tasting Notes: Bushmills Black Bush Head-to-Head

Photo 1

This review is part of a St. Patrick’s Day Flash Mob Blog effort. Scroll to the end for a list of all participating blogs.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I don’t know much about Irish whiskey. It’s not the sort of thing one drinks when spending a year in Scotland. The Water of Life Society hosted a small tasting of Irish whiskies but only because our president was Irish—and I unfortunately missed out on that one. I’m pretty sure the only Irish whiskey I’ve tasted is Jameson—and that was long before I knew how to drink whisky, back in my days of shots and vomit.

So I’ve got some catching up to do when it comes to that other uisce beatha. What better time to start than in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day? The brilliant Canadian blogger and germinatrix of ideas Johanne McInnis of The Perfect Whisky Match suggested on Facebook that we—the whisky bloggers of the world—unite in the first-ever whisky blogging flash mob (first ever blogging flashmob in general?). We settled on St. Paddy’s as it gave focus in terms of whiskey type (Irish) and tie-in with an existing holiday. Bushmills Black Bush was selected as an easy-to-find (for most) and relatively inexpensive Irish whiskey, perfect for accommodating as many bloggers as possible. (A few folks couldn’t find Black Bush in their country or weren’t able to buy an entire bottle—ahem, that’d be me—and other bloggers generously sent samples of their own—ahem, that’d be the ever-gracious, kindest of the kind Joshua Feldman of The Coopered Tot. Just another day of friendliness and generosity in the Whisky Fabric!)

I enjoyed this tasting, then, because I started with a fresh slate. Inevitably, I compared my impressions to Scotch, but I tried hard to nose and taste sans expectations. This tasting was especially fun because I had two different expressions of Black Bush to try. Josh had an old bottle from the ’90s that he’d not drunk much of over the years, and handed it off to me for the project and “for shots when novice drinkers come over.” (I’ve had some disappointing experiences giving good whisky to rubes who shoot it back without a second thought. Sad face.) He also gave me a generous sampling of today’s Black Bush to taste side-by-side with the old stuff.

Were they different? Yes, and no. The flavor profiles had a lot in common but each emphasized different aspects.

Bushmills Black Bush (late 1990s expression)
Nose: Leather, mocha, apples, and lots of spice: cinnamon, allspice, cloves. A sweet vanilla note and light floral topnote, as well as fresh wood or pencil shavings.

Palate: Strong wood pervades throughout the duration of the flavor. Spice, especially black pepper, on the midpalate which fades disappointingly quickly. Slight sweetness and a surprising flash of banana along with more expected citrus. Overall, the oak overwhelmed the more interesting flavors in this dram.

Finish: Oak and more oak. A bare hint of lingering spice but not enough to suit me.

Bushmills Black Bush (contemporary expression)
Nose: Vanilla, cloves, apple bread, pears, cardamom, clean pencil shavings. Light, sweet, and fruity, with a slight mocha or chocolate undercurrent.

Palate: Sweet with vanilla and counterbalanced with oak. The most prominent spice is a gentle cinnamon bark, with baked apples and a hint of banana.

Finish: Again, lots of wood and not much else. There’s some dark chocolate (like unsweetened, 100% cacao) at the back of the tongue but otherwise, it disappoints.

Overall, I found that neither dram fulfilled what I enjoy most in a whisky, but I was glad for the chance to find that out for myself. My opinion wavered as to which I preferred. In the first round, the new stuff came out on top; but round two found me preferring the older version. Neither would be my post-dinner dram of choice, but the 1990s version made a lovely hot toddy, and I’ll surely keep the remainder of the bottle around for future mixing or cooking use.

Flash Mob Bloggers:

http://www.bestshotwhiskyreviews.com/search/label/Black%20Bush
http://misswhisky.com/2013/03/17/black-bush-whiskey-flash-blog/
http://whiskyisrael.co.il/2013/03/17/tasting-bushmills-black-bush-its-saint-paddy/
http://freakywhisky.ca/2013/03/17/bushmills-black-bush/
http://theperfectwhiskymatch.blogspot.ca/2013/03/guest-blogger-for-st-patricks-day.html
http://dramgoodtime.com/2013/03/17/bushmills-black-bush-review-flash-mob-style/
http://whisky-discovery.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/whisky-discovery-349.html
http://gjr71.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/bushmillsmb-flash-mob-tasting/
http://whiskyguyrob.com/whiskyguyblog/robby-oill-and-the-little-people/
http://whiskymeasure.com/714/reviews/bushmills-black-bush-review/
http://themaltdesk.blogspot.dk/2013/03/bushmills-black-bush-distillery-bottling.html
http://awardrobeofwhisky.com/bottle/bushmills-black-bush
http://www.tomswhiskyreviews.com/review.php?articleid=485
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ir0tNwjYahE&feature=youtu.be
http://boozedancing.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/st-patricks-day-flashmobblog-whiskey-review-bushmills-black-bush/
http://maltfascination.com/2013/03/17/bushmills-black-bush/
http://whiskygirl.nl/into-the-black-bush/
http://cocktailchem.blogspot.ca/2012/03/whiskey-for-st-patricks-day-bushmills.html
http://www.whiskyplus.ca/critiques/whisky-critiques/whiskey-whisky-critiques/bushmills-black-bush/
http://theperfectwhiskymatch.blogspot.ca/2013/03/st-patricks-day-bushmills-black-bushhe.html
http://www.connosr.com/reviews/bushmills/bushmills-black-bush/irish-top-blend/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3VDH9kAKKo