Scotland’s Glen Moray whisky distillery celebrates its 120th year of production

Graham Coull, master distiller at Glen Moray. Photo: John Paul

Graham Coull, master distiller at Glen Moray. Photo: John Paul

It wasn’t all that long ago that Johnnie Walker and Chivas Regal ruled the roost at bottle shops when it came to whisky, and you’d need to search far and wide for a favourite single malt. Now they’re everywhere.

Producers are on board with the change, making tweaks in distilleries to create whiskies that appeal to a broader range of drinkers.

“Whisky is becoming more of a follower of fashion than ever before,” says Graham Coull, master distiller at Glen Moray in Scotland’s Speyside region.

Strict rules govern whisky production and just three ingredients – malt, water and yeast – are permitted, so there’s not a lot of room for innovation. One technique in the distiller’s arsenal to change a whisky’s character and flavour is to use an oak barrel that has held different spirits or fortified wine.

“Historically, Glen Moray experimented with slightly more obscure casks; ex-chardonnay barrels were used back in the 1990s,” Graham says.

“I’m resurrecting that tradition for the chardonnay finish and it gives it a unique taste. It’s quite spicy, and it tastes a little bit older than something else of the same age.”

To mark Glen Moray’s 120th year of production, Graham has created a rare whisky that contains material from the distillery’s liquid archives. Just 1000 bottles of Glen Moray Mastery have been produced, and only eight of those have been brought to Australia. A bottle will cost north of $3000.

Photo: supplied

Photo: supplied

The rest of the range:

While the Mastery will set you back over three grand, Glen Moray’s range of whiskies are some of the best value in Australia. Imported direct by Dan Murphy’s, there’s no middle man bumping up the costs and the range is widely available.

Glen Moray Elgin Classic – $44

Glen Moray’s Elgin range age come without an age statement and this is released at around six years of age. Matured in ex-bourbon casks, it’s at the lighter end of the spectrum, but displays the style of the distillery. There’s gentle spice, subtle toffee and vanilla flavours, a creamy smooth texture and a persistent finish.

Glen Moray Elgin Classic Port Cask Finish – $46

This started life in a bourbon cask, but spent 12 months finishing in a port cask. If you’re finishing a whisky in a cask you must give it a summer of maturation, according to Glen Moray’s master distiller Graham Coull, when the casks heat up, opening the pores of the wood to let the whisky interact and suck up the flavours. With sweet apple, berries and spice on the nose, it’s smooth, spicy and has delightful salted caramel and dark berry flavours that fill the mouth and burst through on the finish.

Glen Moray Elgin Classic Chardonnay Cask Finish – $46

You can taste the Chardonnay – the barrels used are from California and France. It’s spicy, with grilled peach, red apple and caramel aromas. It’s seriously smooth, with a fruity Chardonnay lift to its subtle vanilla toffee aromas. Luscious and really easy to drink.

Glen Moray Elgin Heritage 12 Year Old – $53

Rich and autumnal, with fruits and flavours of the season – plums, spice, sticky date pudding – found aromas. Layered and complex, it’s light in the mouth but there’s concentration to its toffee, spice and vanilla flavours. It finishes with lengthy butterscotch flavours.

Glen Moray Elgin Heritage 16 Year Old – $70

A step up in complexity and class – and price – compared to the whiskies above. There’s a whiff of smoke to the spice, raisin and dark chocolate aromas on show. Creamy smooth, its raisined, burnt caramel intensity hits all points in the mouth and holds the flavours for a long time after exit. Matured in 50/50 in ex-bourbon and olorosso casks, with the latter adding a complex bittersweet chocolate flavour.

 

 

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