Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Review - Glen Moray 21 years old Portwood Finish

The Glen Moray 21 years old Portwood Finish is the new premium addition to the Speyside distillery's Elgin Heritage Collection. It joins the 12, 15 and 18 year olds in the range. The whisky is one of the final creations of Graham Coull, the Distillery Manager at Glen Moray, before he moves on to pastures new. This has seen the liquid matured in ex-bourbon casks before a final period in ex-Port pipes from Portugal.

The Glen Moray distillery is located on the outskirts of the city of Elgin, next to the River Lossie. The distillery began life as the West Brewery in 1828 and was later converted to become a whisky distillery in 1897. It is currently owned by the French drinks company La Martiniquaise, who took control in 2008. They have overseen a massive expansion programme, resulting in an annual production capacity of six million litres, and a major revamp of the single malt range with a remarkable upturn in fortunes for the brand in the following decade.

The Glen Moray 21 years old Portwood is bottled at 46.3% ABV and was launched at the popular Whisky Fringe festival in Edinburgh at the beginning of August. Following a period of exclusivity at Whisky Fringe organisers Royal Mile Whiskies it is available at selected specialist whisky retailers globally. The price is £125.

Our tasting notes
The colour is deep golden yellow with a distinct red/pink tint. The nose is highly aromatic with caramel and robust malted cereals leading the way. Then come aromas of stewed apple, milk chocolate and earthy baking spice, along with a hint of something floral (this is difficult to pinpoint but is most reminiscent of rose petals).

On the palate this whisky has an immediate power. The earthy baking spices from the nose hit first (think of cinnamon, all-spice and mace with a pinch of cocoa powder and white pepper) and give an initial warmth and dryness. Then come notes of chocolate covered Turkish delight and plenty of robust malt, fresh oak and waxy cedarwood. These sit alongside some caramel and an interesting note of apple cordial. Underneath are suggestions of strawberry jam, raisin and dried orange, plus late hints of clove and gingerbread.

The finish is long and particularly woody and tannic. Plenty of oak and drying spice coming through and this seems to build to a crescendo before slowly begin to fade.

What's the verdict?
As fans of what Glen Moray do we were looking forward to sampling this new expression. The oldest whisky in the Elgin Heritage Collection is complex and presents some unexpected challenges to the drinker. There is a surprising lack of sweetness and rich fruit characteristics that are expected from ex-Port casks. Instead it is driven by robust and gripping malt with plenty of tannins and oak present. It shows a different side to Glen Moray and to the other whiskies in the range. To read our review of them - please click here.

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