Monday, October 18, 2021

Review / Glen Moray Barolo Finish

This whisky is the latest addition to the Speyside distillery of Glen Moray's limited edition Warehouse 1 Collection. The series is designed to show some of the experiments and hidden gems maturing in the Elgin distillery's premium warehouse. The new whisky is the oldest in the collection to date and follows Tokaji and Sauternes wine expressions. It was distilled and filled to ex-bourbon casks in 1998, before being finished for 18 months in ex-Barolo wine barrels sourced from the Piedmont region of Italy. There are just 863 bottles available and they will be exclusive to the UK market including specialist whisky retailers and the distillery shop.

The Glen Moray distillery is located on the outskirts of the city of Elgin, next to the River Lossie. The buildings began life as the West Brewery in 1828 and were 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 a major revamp of the single malt range. This has resulted in a remarkable upturn in fortunes and significant growth for the brand over the last decade. 

The Glen Moray Warehouse 1 Barolo Finish is bottled at the natural cask strength of 52.9% ABV and is both non chill-filtered and of natural colour. It will retail for £140 a bottle. Further releases in to the collection are also planned with the next one being bottled before the end of 2021.

Our tasting notes

The colour is deep gold with a hint of copper and the nose is aromatic and heady. Red fruit aromas, such as cranberry and grapes, mingle with toffee and milk chocolate to begin with. These develop towards an interesting and slightly unusual Turkish Delight note with hints of orange oil, cinnamon and clove.

On the palate this whisky is initially sweet and rich, before becoming more drying and spicy. The richness and sweetness are led by notes of toffee and caramel, along with some dried fruit - think of raisin, juicy sultana, cranberry and prune in particular. Underneath are further notes of heather honey, golden syrup, milk chocolate and bramble jam. These add depth and complexity.

This is a whisky of two halves and the evolving drier and spicier notes signal the shift in direction. Notes of dessicated coconut and bittersweet malted cereals lead the way, but are quickly joined dusty oak and earthy baking spice. Amongst these are cinnamon, clove and all-spice with a hint of ground ginger and a grind of nutmeg. Delicate savoury notes add structure and class to proceedings - these include hints of cigar wrapper leaf, old leather and malting floor.

The finish is long and lingering. The sweetness and fruity characteristics hang around well with the floral Turkish Delight note returning briefly. As they fade the drying spices and savoury notes take hold. This add a pleasant warmth and tannic woodiness.

What's the verdict?

The Warehouse 1 Collection is proving to be very interesting indeed. Having been lucky enough to tour the warehouse in question at the distillery, we know of some of the delicious whiskies that it holds. Each of the three releases to date have offered a new experience and taken the classic Glen Moray spirit in differing directions. 

The Tokaji and Sauternes dessert wine expressions were sweeter but the use of red wine casks here has made the Borolo Finish much bolder, drier and spicier. The extra age compliments these characteristics well and the result is a very nice and expressive whisky indeed.

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