Thursday, August 10, 2017

Review - Glen Moray Mastery

The Mastery is a special rare single malt from the Speyside distillery of Glen Moray. It has been released to commemorate the distillery's 120th anniversary, which is happening this year. The whisky has been created by Graham Coull, the Distillery Manager at Glen Moray, and with it he pays homage to his predecessors. There have only ever been five Distillery Managers in Glen Moray's 120 year history.

Five vintages from five different decades have been selected for inclusion - three were produced and laid down by Robert Brown (Distillery Manager 1959-1987) and Ed Dodson (1987-2005), with the other two produced during Graham's tenure. Included in the Mastery are whiskies matured in first fill ex-sherry casks, plus ex-Madeira wine cask and a proportion finished in ex-Port barrels.

The Glen Moray distillery is located on the outskirts of the city of Elgin, next to the River Lossie. The distillery started life as the West Brewery in 1828 and was later converted to become a whisky distillery in 1897. After a slightly chequered early history, it is currently owned by the French drinks company La Martiniquaise. They took control in 2008 and embarked on a massive expansion programme, particulary in the last three years. This is now complete and has resulted in an annual production capacity of six million litres.

There are just 1,000 bottles of Mastery available and each is presented in a specially designed and individually numbered decanter, which is housed in a leather case. It is bottled at the natural cask strength of 52.3% ABV and costs £800 each. The Mastery is available now from selected specialist whisky retailers and the distillery shop at Glen Moray.

Our tasting notes
The colour is deep golden yellow and there are plenty of aromas on the nose: sweet woodiness, rich maltiness, apple and cinnamon crumble, rhubarb and custard, icing sugar, honey wax, dried orange peel, and the reminiscence of aged wooden furniture.

On the palate, the whisky is rich and mouth coating with an almost overwhelming balance of warming spices and vanilla, dark chocolate, poached pears, rich tropical fruits and refreshing citrus peel. The list of tasting notes seems endless, as other join in and develop: dried mango, bitter orange, fresh citrus peel, cinnamon sticks, fresh vanilla pods, icing sugar and cookie dough amongst them. Late hints of gingerbread, cocoa and clove add even further depth.

To expect anything other than a long finish would be unthinkable for a whisky of this complexity, and this whisky does not disappoint. The finish is warm and moreish with just the right balance of freshness and sweetness.

What's the verdict?
The Glen Moray Mastery is a classy whisky and one that fittingly commemorates the distillery's anniversary. It would have been easy to pick an old single cask for such a bottling, but this approach offers something more skillful and interesting.

The use of whiskies created by three of Glen Moray's five Master Distillers and spanning five decades in age seems a nice touch. But more importantly, they have created a sensuous and complex single malt that delivers on all levels. Definitely one for those with expensive tastes but superb none the less.

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