Tuesday 13 August 2013

Glen Moray whisky & cheese matching (and launch of 25 Year Old in Australia)

About 6 weeks ago I received an out of the blue (but very welcome) invite to an upcoming Glen Moray tasting at Since I Left You, a small bar in Sydney's CBD. Having only ever tasted Glen Moray in cask-strength SMWS guise (and having enjoyed it) I was keen to try some of their original bottlings. This wasn't just any tasting either - it was a whisky and cheese matched tasting, included Glen Moray's newly released in Australia 25 year old Portwood finish, and was led by distillery manager Graham Coull, who had flown out from Scotland for this event (and Whisky Live). How could I say no?

Arriving at Since I Left You was like walking into a community of bloggers (a gaggle of bloggers? Herd? Flock?) with our good friends and fellow Whisky bloggers D.T.W.C, renowned food and drink blogger Gourmantic and Sydney/Melbourne expert Carrie from Daily Addict all present (as well as a number of other food bloggers). We were greeted with a Highland Fizz cocktail on arrival (a standard but tasty mix of Glen Moray and ginger beer) and had a short while to catch up before the tasting started.

First whisky was the Glen Moray Classic (40% ABV), aged for between 5-9 years. A youthful and lively whisky, with a citrus nose, fruity floral palate and a short finish. The matched cheese was a creamy goats cheese, which drove up the citrus notes in the whisky. Overall a pleasant whisky, and certainly not bad value at its $37 price point. I gave it 87/100.

Graham then took some time to tell us a bit about the distillery (owned by French company La Martiniquaise) and his history with Glen Moray, where he's been manager for the past 8 years. Demand has been big in recent years, with an additional 2 stills soon to be installed. Interestingly, we Aussies are Glen Moray's second biggest market!

The second whisky was the Glen Moray 10yo Chardonnay Cask (40%), which was particularly interesting as it isn't just finished in Chardonnay casks (which themselves are very unique in the Scotch whisky industry), but wholly matured in Chardonnay casks. Whilst I wouldn't go so far to say I noted Chardonnay notes, I definitely noticed tropical pineapple and citrus notes, a smooth, citrusy and slightly oily palate with a slight tang, and a spicy finish. Blue cheese was the match here, which increased the spice and cut through the oily mouthfeel. For a $43 I was hugely impressed. 92/100.

Next was the Glen Moray 12yo (40%), finished in more traditional ex-Bourbon barrels and known as the Glen Moray "house style". There was more complexity on the nose than the Classic here, with stronger oak notes but also toffee. Lemon zest was the dominant characteristic on the palate with a slight nuttiness, and a medium-length finish. The matched parmesan increased the spiciness and nuttiness, and I thought introduced a little bit of cajun spice! A great match. 90/100.

Second last was the Glen Moray 16yo (40%), which showed a nutty nose, rich creamy palate (with hints of fruit) and a medium finish. The matched aged cheddar I thought overtook the whisky - not a bad match, but not spot on like the previous pairing. 91/100

Last up was the one we were all waiting for (see if you can pick it from the 5 whiskies to the right...) - the Glen Moray 25yo Portwood Finish (43%). Laid down in 1986, aged for 23yo in ex-Bourbon barrels, the spirit was then transferred into Portuguese Port barrels for the remaining years. With a dark and rich copper colour, it was clear this was going to be a complex whisky. The nose was sweet - almost with notes of a light sauternes or bortytis. The palate followed this up with a massive hit of sweetness on the tip of the tongue, followed by vanilla (that'll be the 23yo in bourbon then) and sweet madeira notes. The finish went on and on, with continuous waves of delicious sweet notes coming back. Matched with a 36 month aged gruyere, this was an incredible end to the tasting. 94/100.

The 25yo Portwood Finish is limited to 3,482 bottles and retails for $249.99AUD.

Graham (who by the way, was incredibly friendly, jovial and knowledgeable throughout the tasting) then took questions, and told us about a few interesting whiskies we might expect from Glen Moray in the coming years (including their "Peated Spirit"which is now at "legal age" of 3yo), and some more interesting wine-matured whiskies including Chenin Blanc and Burgundy finishes, which are 6-8 years old at the moment (so still have some time to go). Having tasted a few cask strength varieties at Whisky Live Sydney the following night, I really hope Glen Moray decide to release a few of these at their natural strength.

With the formal part of the tasting over, the crowd mingled over additional cocktails and drams of their favourites (for me, the 25yo and Chardonnay Cask). On our way out, everyone was given a take-home bag, including a full bottle of the Chardonnay Cask - my favourite of the night next to the 25yo!

A huge thanks to Glen Moray and DecPR who hosted the event and invited Time for Whisky as a guest.

 - Martin.


  1. It was a good night. I really enjoyed it. More enjoyed the Chardonnay cask than anything else as I am always on the lookout for uniqueness and extremes in character. I do find it a little hard to give sentence to a whisky when tasting so many other things and I am sure having the 25yo on its own would really allow me to appreciate it more.

  2. Agreed. I also understand saving the "best for last", but sometimes at tastings with 5+ whiskies, the palate does get a bit diluted towards the end (even if only having a small sip of each), and it'd be nice to try the rarer whiskies with a fresh palate.