Sunday 26 May 2024

Glen Moray Masterclass with Iain Allan [Tasted #663 - #668]

To kick off Sydney’s Whisky Month, we joined Iain Allan, Global Ambassador for Glen Moray Distillery, and Judith Zhu, bartender at Door Knock, at Grain Bar for a Glen Moray masterclass. The session featured Glen Moray whiskies from their Cask Explorer range, including the delicious Glen Moray 10yo 'Elgin,' released as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebration. Two limited-edition Glen Moray releases; Whisky List exclusive, a Glen Moray Rioja Cask Finish and a Peated Glen Moray Rioja Cask Finish, completed the tasting set.

It's been a while since we have had a full Glen Moray tasting. Back in 2013, Graham Coull, Glen Moray Distillery Manager led a Glen Moray whisky & cheese matching in Sydney as part of Whisky Live. Since then we have seen Glen Moray evolved, both as a distiller as well as with their flavour profile.

During the session, Iain explained that Glen Moray is situated in Elgin, midway between Aberdeen and Inverness in the Speyside region, known for producing lighter, sweeter whiskies with a bit of spice. Established in 1897, Glen Moray began as a brewery before converting into a distillery. With its long history, Glen Moray benefits from the resources around Elgin, including water from the River Lossie. Though unlike Sydney winter, Iain humorously addressed complaints about the cold weather in Sydney, comparing it to Scotland’s colder winter and noting that whisky is used to keep warm in Scotland.

Glen Moray is known for its traditional production methods, utilizing copper pot stills and oak casks for aging. They commonly use a mix of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks but also enjoy experimenting with non-conventional casks such as madeira, port, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, rum, and rioja. In fact, Iain noted that Glen Moray has recently rebranded its core range from the classic collection to the 'cask explorer' collection - the latter denoting Glen Moray's piqued interest in experimenting with different casks. 

Despite the use of different casks, Iain did note that Glen Moray’s history of cask exploration has remained since 1897, noting that while experimentation with various cask types constitutes about 20% of their production, the remaining 80% relies on the consistent quality of bourbon cask maturation. 

Glen Moray's ownership by La Martiniquaise-Bardinet, a French spirits company, has significantly expanded the distillery's global reach while maintaining its traditional roots. Under La Martiniquaise, Glen Moray has grown from a small export range to a more global presence, with expansions increasing production capacity to 8.5 million litres, positioning it as a medium-sized distillery.

Back to the masterclass, complementing the Glen Moray whiskies were three beautifully crafted cocktails that Judith invented, combining Glen Moray whiskies, including the two Rioja Cask releases, with Australian native ingredients. Along with the 10yo Elgin, I enjoyed the Peated Rioja Cask release, which had big aromas and flavours with sweet, savoury, and big smoked meat notes.

Glen Moray Shiraz Cask Finish (40% ABV, NAS, Speyside, Scotland, A$57.90)

An Australian market-exclusive whisky, part of the newly rebranded Explorer Range, previously known as the Classic Range. Initially aged for six years in bourbon casks and finished for two years in European Shiraz casks. Iain noted that this gives the benefit of the French oak's nutty, hazelnut character and the floral, fruity notes of Shiraz.

Nose: The aroma opens with the quintessential characteristics of Speysidy, featuring a rich combination of sweet vanilla and luscious honey. There's a subtle hint of meaty undertones, adding depth and complexity. Light notes of currants and raisins, accompanied tannins that lend a slight dryness, reminiscent of well-aged oak.

Palate: On the palate, there's a delicate and inviting profile. Initial flavours of creamy vanilla and golden honey take centre stage, creating a smooth and comforting sensation. A nutty character emerges, bringing to mind freshly roasted almonds and hazelnuts, complemented by the taste of buttery sweet bread, evoking the warmth of a bakery. The vanilla base provides a consistent thread of sweetness, while a touch of perfumed spices—perhaps cinnamon and nutmeg—adds an intriguing, aromatic layer.

Finish: The finish is long and indulgent, with the delightful taste of hazelnuts leaving a lasting impression. There's a decadent Nutella-like sweetness that lingers on the tongue, making for a satisfyingly rich and nutty conclusion to the tasting experience.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 89/100 (Hendy)

Glen Moray 12yo (40% ABV, 12yo, Speyside, Scotland, A$65.95)

Described by Iain as a quintessential expression of the distillery’s traditional style, matured in bourbon casks for a minimum of 12 years. This aging process strikes a balance between the spirit’s natural flavors and the influence of the oak, creating a sweet and slightly spicy profile typical of Speyside whiskies. The 12 Year Old is described by Iain as the distillery’s flagship whisky, offering an approachable yet complex taste that appeals to both new and seasoned whisky drinkers. Despite production challenges, such as having to allocate the 12 Year Old due to high demand, the whisky remains a cornerstone of Glen Moray’s heritage and identity.

NoseThe aroma greets you with a delightful combination of honey and a rich nuttiness. The honey provides a sweet, floral fragrance. A warm, nutty scent follows, reminiscent of toasted almonds and hazelnuts. The presence of vanilla adds a creamy, comforting layer. Delicate notes of fresh berries, such as raspberries and blackberries, introduce a subtle fruity complexity.

Palate: On the palate, there's a light and well-balanced profile. The initial taste is smooth and nutty, bringing forward the rich flavour of hazelnuts that's mixed with the sweetness of vanilla. The vanilla is creamy and indulgent, providing a lush base that ties the flavours together. The mouthfeel is light yet satisfying, with the nutty elements creating a comforting, familiar sensation, akin to a warm, nutty pastry.

Finish: The finish is dry, leaving a lingering impression of creamy vanilla and nutty flavours. The dryness adds a refined touch. The nutty finish, with its hints of toasted almonds and hazelnuts.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100 (Hendy)

Glen Moray 10yo 'Elgin' (46% ABV, 10yo, Speyside, Scotland, no longer available)

Glen Moray's limited edition Shiraz Cask Finish Launched last year in Australia and now no longer available, it was intended to celebrate Elgin potentially becoming a city and later commemorated Glen Moray's 125th anniversary. This unique whisky, aged six years in bourbon casks and two years in European Shiraz casks, showcases the distillery's hallmark toffee apple sweetness and a nutty, fruity profile. Despite its popularity, the whisky is nearly sold out, with only a few bottles left (none in Australia). Iain  fondly recalls the unexpected discovery of Chardonnay casks in 2008 which we actually tasted in 2013 as they were bottled as the Glen Moray 10yo Chardonnay casks.

Nose: The nose opens with a rich, inviting scent of creamy vanilla, immediately evoking the warmth of freshly baked pastries. This is complemented by buttery undertones. Sweet notes of golden honey blend seamlessly with a subtle freshness from peppermint. The minty elements provide a refreshing contrast.

Palate: On the palate, this whisky is luscious, with a rich buttery texture and sweet flavours of caramelised sugar, reminiscent of the crisp topping on a crème brûlée. The creamy vanilla persists, adding depth. Flavours of fluffy marshmallows and freshly baked loaf bread evoke a sense of home comfort. The taste of toffee apples introduces a fruity sweetness, complemented by a drizzle of thick syrup. A surprising hint of peppery rocket adds a subtle spiciness, balancing the sweetness and adding complexity.

Finish: The finish is long, leaving a lasting impression of dry, creamy vanilla and the sweetness of marshmallows. The marshmallow note lingers pleasantly, providing a light, airy conclusion to the tasting experience. This extended finish allows the rich flavours to gradually fade.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100 (Hendy)

Glen Moray 18yo (47.2% ABV, 18yo, Speyside, Scotland, A$148.99)

Nose: The nose of this whisky is rich and inviting, opening with the sweet, golden scent of honey that immediately draws you in. This is followed by a deep maltiness, reminiscent of freshly milled grains, adding a wholesome, earthy quality. A delightful aroma of toffee and sticky caramel pudding brings a decadent sweetness, evoking the comforting scents of a dessert kitchen. The presence of vanilla essence adds a creamy, aromatic layer, rounding out the nose.

Palate: On the palate, the whisky presents a complex profile. The taste of nougat emerges first, offering a chewy, nutty sweetness that is both rich and textured. This is complemented by creamy vanilla, which provides a smooth and luscious base. Herbaceous notes add an intriguing layer of depth, with hints of fresh, green herbs that balance the sweetness. A touch of mint introduces a cool, refreshing element, while the subtle spice of ginger lollies adds a warm, invigorating kick.

Finish: The finish is medium to long. It begins with a drying sensation, which provides a refined, clean finish. The creamy vanilla lingers on the palate, maintaining a sweet, comforting presence. This extended finish allows the rich flavours to gradually dissipate.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100 (Hendy)

Glen Moray Rioja Cask Matured (59.8% ABV, NAS, Speyside, Scotland, A$199)

Part of the Glen Moray Warehouse 1 series, this Rioja cask matured Glen Moray showcases the Glen Moray's commitment to cask exploration. Warehouse 1, a dedicated space for experimental casks, houses a diverse range of barrels including sherry butts, port pipes, and wine casks. Unlike other more regimented warehouses, it reflects Glen Moray's innovative spirit. The Warehouse 1 series, is now available globally after being a UK exclusive, features unfiltered, natural colour whiskies. Each release is unique, with current offerings including two distinct Rioja cask maturations.

Nose: The nose is a captivating blend of aromas, starting with a distinctly herbaceous quality that brings to mind freshly crushed herbs. This is complemented by a peppery spiciness that adds an invigorating kick. Creamy vanilla weaves through the scent, providing a smooth, sweet balance. Intriguingly, there is a unique hint of black Kalamata olives, adding a savoury, briny depth. Fruity notes of ripe peach and juicy plums round out the nose.

Palate: On the palate, the whisky delivers a robust and complex flavour profile. The initial taste is spiced, with a bold intensity that awakens the senses. This is followed by the savoury richness of salted rubbed meat, evoking the flavours of well-seasoned charcuterie. The sweet, juicy taste of plums emerges next, harmonizing with subtle hints of peaches, which add a delicate, fruity sweetness. Caramelised sugar imparts a rich, burnt sweetness that enhances the overall depth. A touch of nutmeg introduces a warm, aromatic spice, while a hint of peppermint provides a refreshing, cool finish.

Finish: The finish is dry and lingering, leaving a lasting impression of smoked ham that evokes the savoury, smoky flavours of cured meat. This creates a complex and satisfying conclusion, with the smoky, savoury notes gradually fading, leaving a warm, subtly spiced aftertaste.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100 (Hendy)

Glen Moray Peated Rioja Cask Matured (59.8% ABV, NAS, Speyside, Scotland, A$209)

In November 2024, Glen Moray released a new peated whisky from their Warehouse 1 series, marking a significant departure from their traditional Speyside style. Initially skeptical about peated whisky, the distillery began experimenting with it in 2010, using local peat to create a unique smoky profile distinct from Islay whiskies. This particular release, an 11-year-old whisky aged nine years in bourbon casks and finished for two years in Rioja casks, offers a complex flavour with notes of smoky bacon, Umami, sweet smoke, red fruits, and subtle hints of citrus, toffee, and vanilla. Iain noted despite being Glen Moray's first internationally released heavily peated whisky, there are only small batches annually due to the labor-intensive cleaning process required to switch between peated and non-peated production.

Nose: The nose opens with an enticing aroma of smoked bacon, evoking memories of a hearty breakfast on the coast. This is swiftly followed by the briny scent of seaweed and a touch of sea salt, conjuring the freshness of a coastal breeze. The marine notes are beautifully balanced by the sweetness of caramel, adding a rich, buttery layer. A hint of BBQed tomato emerges, offering a smoky, umami twist.

Palate: On the palate, the whisky delivers a robust and savoury experience. The initial taste is reminiscent of salted cold meat, bringing a rich umami flavor that mingles with a pronounced sea saltiness. This is followed by the deep, smoky flavour of charred steak, enhanced by a drizzle of sweet maple syrup that adds a caramelized richness. A hint of chili introduces a spicy warmth, while honey adds a smooth, sweet counterbalance. The nuttiness, akin to roasted almonds, provides an earthy depth that enriches the overall palate experience.

Finish: The finish is long and satisfying, characterised by a dry, lingering spiciness from the chili. Vanilla adds a creamy sweetness that softens the finish. The final notes of lingering nuts, reminiscent of toasted hazelnuts and walnuts, leave a warm, nutty aftertaste that invites you to savour each moment.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100 (Hendy)

Overall, the Glen Moray masterclass was a delightful journey through their innovative whisky range. The blend of tradition and experimentation in their whiskies, complemented by Judith's creative cocktails, made for an unforgettable tasting experience.

To follow on the tasting yesterday, Glen Moray will be available exclusively at Grain Bar from 24th May to 16th June as part of their ‘Fireplace Seduction’ experience which will also run alongside Vivid Sydney in June. Grain Bar will feature an exclusive flight of Glen Moray whiskies. The Whisky List will also have Glen Moray present at the Melbourne Whisky Show on the 6th July as well as the Brisbane Whisky Show on 14th of September.

No comments:

Post a Comment