Glen Moray is a distillery with a history of experimentation with different cask and since 2010 they has also been some experimentation with peated malt (compared to their standard un-peated malts). The recent limited release, Peated Spirit Batch #1, was from a single cask from the first batch of peated malt to be run through the distillery in January 2010. This release is a bit of a sneak preview into some of the exciting things to come.
This bottling was from a bourbon cask, selected as it was showing a
promising balance of the trademark Glen Moray sweetness with a new added
dimension of smokiness. It is bottled with a relatively mild phenol content of 18ppm and each bottle was uniquely (and rather impressively) hand filled, hand labelled and signed by Glen Moray's Master Distiller, Graham Coull. This release was bottled at the end of July 2012, at 2 years and 6 months old, in time to be launched at the 2012 Whisky Fringe in Edinburgh. Glen Moray has been running peated malt through the distillery every January since then. Who knows what exciting treats we shall get in the future from this distillery when peated and unpeated malts meet some further intriguing casks.
Glen Moray distillery is located in the Speyside region of Scotland, sitting on the outskirts of the town of Elgin on the banks of the River Lossie. The distillery started life as a brewery, founded in 1828, which was later converted to become the Glen Moray whisky distillery in 1897. It is currently owned by French drinks company La Martiniquaise, who took control in 2008 after buying the distillery from Moet Hennessey. Whisky produced and matured at Glen Moray is used for a number of La Martiniquaise's own blended whiskies that are popular in France, namely Label 5 and Glen Turner, as well as an expanding range of single malts. The main market for Glen Moray single malts is the UK as one of the top 5 for total UK single malt sales in 2010.
Our tasting notes
The liquid is a vibrant golden tone with a vibrant and fresh nose. The initial fragrance is of fresh tropical fruit such as bananas and mangoes, with some zesty orange and freshly cut grass. Leave it a little while and notes of toasted oatcake with sugary honey vanilla start to come through. Throughout all there is undeniably smokiness on the nose with earthy and rubbery notes from the peat that work quite well with the fresh fruitiness. Adding water certainly softens the nose but also brings out the more acrid nature of the smoke. Adding quite a bit of water brings out the vegetal notes and the fruitiness but that smokiness is always in the mix.
On the palate, sweetness and smokiness hit you right up front. It is an icing sugary sweetness that lasts quite a long while alongside the warming bonfire tasting smoke. The initial hit on the palate is quite intense but this in a large due to the startlingly high ABV of 60.6%. At full strength the sugariness and smokiness overwhelm the fruit that was on the nose. With a drop of water added the extreme sweetness take a step aside to really let the smoke take the leading note while the fruitiness does start to show especially on the finish. At any level of strength the key flavours are the icing sugar sweetness and the warming smoke.
What's the verdict?
At a mere £15 this was an affordable and playful taste into what we can be expecting from Glen Moray in the next few years. It shows all the feisty characteristics of a young peated spirit but with some very interesting aspects of the classic fruity Speyside character that has made Glen Moray so popular. The high ABV is a little scary up front but the spirit takes water quite well and the cask strength bottling allows us to see what water (in small and sizable amounts) can do to this unique spirit. We look forward to what is coming next.