(Muckle: Noun, meaning a large amount)
Glen Moray is a brand that has seen its reputation start to grow over recent years. Often regarded as the ‘supermarket special offer dram’ it is now starting to creep out from under that shadow.
That’s not to say that there isn’t value any more within the range, it is still a big part of what they do, but more and more drinkers are noticing the quality of the spirit produced rather than just the value of the spirit.
Glen Moray Distillery is located within the town of Elgin in Moray. Originally a brewery it was converted to a functioning distillery in 1897. It was previously owned by MacDonald & Muir, the company that was set to become Glenmorangie.
After the LVMH takeover the Glen Moray Distillery and brand was sold to French company La Martiniquaise in 2008.
There has been heavy investment into the distillery which will see capacity double and be much more energy efficient.
You can read more about the distillery and a recent visit of mine here.
I am going to take a look at a range of Glen Morays, from their 12, 15 and 18 yo Heritage range as well as their NAS Sherry finish, their 25yo Port Cask and their recent Mastery bottling which celebrates the 120th birthday of the Distillery.
Glen Moray Classic Sherry Cask, OB, 40%abv, from my collection (available here)
The nose is very fruity and light with melon, raisin and vanilla all present alongside a slightly floral and lemony feeling. There is a deeper toffee esque note there somewhere. Despite the Sherry finish there is still a decent Glen Moray DNA in the nose.
The palate is pleasant but quite light. I’m not too sure how it can be light and yet buttery but it is. Raisins and subtle spices are overlaid by pleasant honey and gooseberries. A leather note lingers and leads us into the finish.
The finish is a little short but fades to a return of the vanilla and a slight tropical fruit feeling. Again there are slight raisin elements along with a touch of clove.
Glen Moray 12yo Elgin Heritage, 40%abv, press sample (available here)
The nose is light, lemony and zesty. Elements of sultana and cereal mix with some pineapple jam, syrupy peaches and a light spice.
The palate has a good hit of vanilla, some tangy peaches and a slight grassiness right at the end. Theres a nice creamy texture and some good earthy cereal notes here too. Still feels quite perfumed and light.
The finish is lightly spiced with a touch of light spice and drying tannins.
As an example of distillery character and as a base expression it works well. Don’t look for too much complexity here. Simple, light and pleasant.
Glen Moray Elgin Heritage, 15yo, 40%abv, press sample (available here)
The next expression, the 15yo, is a mixture of American Oak and Sherry casks.
The nose is still zesty but with the addition of oranges rather than just lemon. There are some sultanas and light tobacco, mixed with some light cedar. Not a sherry monster, just a nod to its sherry elements.
The palate is again packed with vanillins and syrupy fruit. Despite the light feeling its quite creamy and surprisingly spiced.
The finish is a touch short but has some excellent spiced elements along with a drying tannic feeling, amongst the oak that is left lingering.
A good step up from the 12, and clearly demonstrates the excellent quality of casks that have been used as the influences from both are easily found.
Glen Moray Elgin Heritage 18yo, OB, 47.2%abv, press sample (available here)
The nose is based around the zesty lemon, but now its getting more intense and a little sweeter, Sicilian lemons and over ripe apricots. There are some deep and tasty honey, floral and vanilla elements working away in the background.
The palate is very large and very creamy. Milky cereal, fresh apricot pastries and ripe melon mixes with a tiny touch of mint, nettle tea and cantuccini biscotti.
The finish is the longest of the set so far. It is slightly closed and nicely spiced and is vanillin and oak driven. The sweetness of the vanilla and honey does much to temper the oak, which is just a very light undertone. Back to the lemon at the very end.
Its nicely punchy with an increased abv, which is a very specific 47.2%. My personal preference is around this level so works well for me, driving the flavours rather than masking or overpowering the more subtle elements.
This is a really solid release from Glen Moray. I do think that there will be a few put off by the £70 price point, not due to it being overpriced or lacking quality, but when most are used to buying a GM for £25 it makes it somehow seem expensive. The adventurous will find a cracking dram here.
Glen Moray 25 Port Cask Finish, OB, 43%abv, from my collection (available here)
This was the first ‘Old’ dram I ever tried, back at a tasting event at the Whisky Stramash several years ago, hosted by the fine chaps at Edinburgh Whisky Blog, Jason and Chris.
Trying this whisky and meeting the guys from EWB was pretty much the reason the Amateur Drammer website started. Impartial review? I’ll try and remove my rose coloured glasses…
The nose is rich with raisins, redcurrants, red grape and has a subtle hint of mocha. Given time some raspberries emerge and some light cherrywood.
The palate is a touch leathery with flashes of citrus and wood. Theres a nice balance between smoothness and a fruity crispness here. The release of some subtle spices lead on to the finish.
Spices, specifically nutmeg and cinnamon deliver the finish, along with something I can only describe as strawberries left in a cigar humidor. It is a rather odd tasting note but is something I tend to envision with port cask finishes in general.
Glen Moray Mastery, OB, NAS, 52.3% abv, press sample (available here)
Glen Moray Master Distiller Graham Coull has selected 5 different vintages to blend together and create Mastery, which is a mix of maderia, sherry and port casks.
The nose is sweet with sugary fruits, raisins, soft spices and gentle wood notes. Demerara sugar underpins the feeling here. After a while some walnuts and vanilla infused coffee beans emerge.
The palate however is where the sherry influence really shows. Rich and chocolatey with redcurrants and stewed fruits. Not a sherry bomb, but rounded and filled with sherry flavours. There is a deep sweetness here which interplays with a delicious tannic element as the sherry and madeira influences combine. I’m not usually a fan of anything over 50%abv, personally preferring an abv in the high 40’s. The Mastery sits at 52.3% which allows it to be punchy, with the alcohol pushing the flavour profiles rather than at any point overpowering them.
The finish is chocolatey and reminiscent of a sweet cafe latte, alongside some nice creamy and vanilla elements with a spiced undercurrent. Long and lingering with the eventual emergence of oak and a twist of clove. A restrained and controlled richness.
This retails at £800+ and is hopefully not as tough a sell as I fear it may be but I think it is a statement of intent, or even just a little bit of showing off from Glen Moray, to showcase its credentials as a top end luxury expression.
I for one am glad to see the brand beginning to overcome its cheap and cheerful tag, a pricing strategy from the past that has no doubt hindered the brand in its public perception.
Investment in new plant and process technology, a new core range and most importantly in good quality casks is most certainly paying off.
You can find more Glen Moray articles in my archive.
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