Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Review - The Glen Moray Distillery Editions 2020

These three new whiskies have been released to help fans and collectors who cannot visit the Glen Moray distillery in Elgin this year due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. The trio of Distillery Edition single cask single malts, which would usually have been visitor centre exclusives, have all been matured in ex-wine casks - Burgundy, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc - and selected by Dr. Kirstie McCallum, the Head of Whisky Creation at Glen Moray. They are all released at their natural cask strengths and are non chill-filtered and of natural colour. All were distilled in either 2003 or 2004.

To ensure that whisky fans from around the world do not miss out on the annual Distillery Edition exclusives, the team at Glen Moray will be offering personal phone consultations headed by Brand Ambassador and Visitor Centre Manager Iain Allan. They will guide callers through the three whiskies, answer any questions, make recommendations and take orders.

For a consultation, please call the distillery on 01343-550900 (9am to 5pm BST). The three whiskies will also be available to purchase from the visitor centre shop, which has just recently reopened.

The Glen Moray distillery is located on the outskirts of the city of Elgin on the banks of the River Lossie. The buildings began life as the West Brewery in 1828 and was later converted to become a whisky distillery in 1897. It is currently owned by La Martiniquaise, who took control in 2008. They have overseen a massive expansion programme, both in terms of increasing the annual production capacity to six million litres and revamping the single malt range. This has resulted in a remarkable upturn in fortunes for the brand over the last decade.

Our tasting notes

Glen Moray Distillery Edition Burgundy Cask
Distilled 2004 / Cask #213 / 60.1% ABV

The colour is deep gold, almost amber, and the nose has a lovely sweet and confected feel. The combination of aromas reminds us of an old sweet shop with dusty spices and hard boiled fruit sweets to the fore. Underneath are hints of orange oil, cinnamon, green apple and heady Summer florals (think of something like honeysuckle and jasmine).

On the palate this whisky carries on from where the nose left off. It is sweet and confected with initial notes of candy canes, boiled fruit sweets and cloudy apple juice. Then comes some woodiness and bitterness - think of baking spice, walnut oil and sandalwood combined with bitter orange peel. The depth and complexity keeps evolving and a distinct bitter cherry note develops, along with further warming wood spices including clove and cayenne pepper.

With water the whisky becomes immediately softer with the apple note becoming most prominent. It dulls the bitterness and spices a little, which threatens to throw things out of balance. Some late dried orange and walnut add a lovely final flourish.

Glen Moray Distillery Edition Chardonnay Cask
Distilled 2003 / Cask #7670 / 58.9% ABV

The colour is vibrant gold and the nose is a mix of nuts and tropical fruit. There are initial aromas of almond, pineapple and sultanas. These are followed by some golden syrup, marzipan, butterscotch and a pinch of cinnamon spice. There are also late aromas of dried fig and white chocolate.

On the palate this whisky is juicy and viscous with the sultana note rising first. Then comes a lovely combination of sweetness with a touch of savoury. The golden syrup and over ripe pineapple from the nose are evident again, along with some notes of marshmallow and buttery hot crumpets. There is also a hint of raspberry croissant. Underneath are further notes of cocoa powder, malted cereals and pinches of cinnamon and white pepper.

With water the whisky softens dramatically and becomes more creamy. The savoury and spicy notes are knocked back and allows the sweetness and fruit characteristics to come to the fore, especially a previously undetected yet distinct green apple note.

Glen Moray Distillery Edition Chenin Blanc Cask
Distilled 2004 / Cask #341 / 60.3% ABV

The colour is deep gold and the nose is packed full of red apple and milk chocolate aromas to begin with. Then come further aromas of wood sap, acetone, toasted nuts and popcorn, plus some toffee apple. Underneath is also some fudge and hints of clove and white pepper.

On the palate this whisky feels warming, thick and almost sticky. Intense notes of red apple, milk chocolate and robust malt lead the way, followed by some toffee and honeycomb. These evolve in to caramel with a hint of tropical fruit, especially apricot and maybe some pineapple? There is also an underlying note of toasted nuts, which works well with the maltiness and slight savoury quality. Further hints of cocoa powder, cloves and baking spices (especially cinnamon and all-spice) round things off.

Water brings out the maltiness and chocolate-like qualities even more, as well as the toasted nut characteristics. This turns a little bitter and dry towards the end to give the whisky extra grip and intensity.

What's the verdict?
These three whiskies are so different and take the Glen Moray spirit in three different directions. This makes the selection so interesting and what we have liked and enjoyed about Glen Moray over the years. They are experimental and innovative, but in a controlled way.

It is difficult to choose a favourite from the three, as they all offer something different, but if forced we would probably pick the Burgundy Cask - it has the most interest to us and so many layers of aroma and flavour. Each sip offers something new. The Chardonnay Cask would be our second choice as it is so juicy, sweet and vibrant.

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