Last week we were delighted to be invited the Glen Moray distillery, which is located in Elgin in the Speyside whisky region of Scotland. The reason for the invite was to attend a product launch and dinner, which was held at the distillery, and an in-depth tour of the facilities.
The product in question was the new 10 years old Chardonnay Cask, a review of which will appear here shortly. The distillery is currently owned by French beverage company La Martiniquaise, who bottle the whisky produced at Glen Moray in a concise range of single malts as well as using it in their range of blended whiskies such as Label 5. It may surprise a few people, but the Glen Moray is one of the biggest selling single malts in the UK market (beating well known heavyweights like Laphroaig and Macallan) and Label 5 is one of the best sellers in France.
We have been to Glen Moray before and it remains one of our favourite distilleries visited to date. To read our full notes on that previous tour, please go to our Distillery Visit > Glen Moray post. The thing that strikes you about the distillery is the relaxed and informal atmosphere that surrounds the place, which makes you feel instantly welcome and at home. This feeling stems from a combination of the people that work there and the surroundings in which Glen Moray sits. Everyone that we met over our two day stay was friendly and willing to impart an endless string of information and anecdotes about the distillery and their working life there. Some of these we have listed below. This, combined with the fact that it is located on the edge of the city of Elgin and sits tucked away on the bank of the River Lossie, makes it an idyllic place which spreads out naturally in to the surrounding countryside.
We were delighted to be able to talk to numerous interesting people from the distillery and thank them for their time and for making us feel so welcome. These include Visitor Centre Manager Iain Allan, Visitor Centre Assistants Emma and Lois, Distillery Manager Graham Coull, former Distillery Manager Ed Dodson and Director of UK Operations for La Martiniquaise Ian Palmer. We learnt numerous interesting facts and figures from them (far too many to mention or remember!) and shared some lovely whiskies with them.
Did you know?
The distillery, which was formerly a brewery, was built on land known locally as Gallow's Hill. This refers to the time when public hangings took place on the site. The last hanging took place in the late 1600s and human remains were found when digging some of the foundations for the buildings.
Former owners LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey) used the distillery as a centre for experimentation with different cask maturation. This included the introduction of wine casks, instead of the traditional ex-bourbon or ex-sherry casks, and the new 10 years old Chardonnay Cask is a direct result of this experimentation. La Martiniquaise and Graham Coull have continued and expanded this experimentation and innovation by exploring an even wider range of different casks for maturation. In addition, they produced their first peaty spirit at the beginning of this year.
In November 2002, the nearby River Lossie burst its banks following a sustained period of heavy rain. The subsequent flood was the worst in living memory and caused thousands of pounds of damage. This included damage to some of the warehouses, which saw casks (both empty and full of whisky) floating off down the river! On our video below, you can see the small marker that shows the level that the water reached. It a small square black marker, which is seen just below a window about 27/28 seconds in to the clip - click here to see some pictures of Elgin during the flood, including an image of the distillery submerged!
We have compiled a short film of our tour around Glen Moray, which we hope helps to bring you the sounds and sights of the distillery. In the film you will see all aspects of the whisky making process - milling, mashing, fermentation, distilling and maturation. We hope that you enjoy watching - if you do then check out our new channel on YouTube for further video clips.