Glen Moray doesn’t receive much love or attention and that’s a shame as we should spread the whisky love around; including distant outposts such as Jura. With so much money flowing into and out of the Scotch whisky industry, it’s so easy to focus on the big names and brands.
A welcome opportunity then to talk a little about Glen Moray. Personally, I do enjoy their bottle your own options at the distillery which show a fun and adventurous side. Here at MALT we’ve also reviewed their recent 12, 15 and 18 years olds along with the Glen Moray Mastery which represents a new twist for the distillery. All in all, we have a healthy selection of reviews that give you a perspective of this overlooked Speysider.
Glen Moray itself burst into life in 1897 on the crest of a whisky boom. This was an era dominated by the rise in popularity of the blend and especially the more approachable style of Speyside. Blends were dominating the market and blending houses across Scotland were desperate for stock. We’ve touched upon the influence of the Distillers Company Limited (DCL) around this time who tried to manipulate prices and demand in the Cadenhead’s North British 32 year old review. This was a tremendously exciting era full of optimism and growth. It also marked the start of the foreign investment in the industry – if we count the English as foreigners – with W & A Gilbey purchasing the Glen Spey distillery.
Just to give you a taste of the expansion during the 1890’s the following distilleries were built solely on Speyside in addition to Glen Moray; Aultmore, Balvenie, BenRiach, Benromach, Caperdonich, Craigellachie, Dufftown, Glendullan, Glen Elgin, Glentauchers, Knockando, Knockdhu, Longmorn, Speyburn, Strathmill and Tamdhu. A huge list I’m sure you’ll agree and compiling it for you also underlined the sheer focus on Speyside with a couple of Highland exceptions. The other regions during the 1890’s received no love or investment. Times were changing and after the building of Ardmore in 1899, a new distillery was not built again in Scotland until the arrival of the great one in Tormore in 1960. Yeah, I know about Glen Keith around the same time, but that was an existing building converted into a distillery.
Glen Moray is situated near the river Lossie and since its establishment in 1897, the town since has engulfed and surrounded the distillery. The site original played host to a brewery that stretches back to 1828. Also, fact fans nearby is the Gallow Hill where all sorts of grizzly executions took place – mostly criminals and witches – until the late 1600’s. Needless to say, the area has always been a popular one with the locals.
Converting the existing brewery in 1897 with plenty of hope and ambition was torpedoed by the Pattison crisis in the winter of 1898. This effectively put an all stop to the Scotch whisky industry. I’ve talked about this critical event in other reviews so the short and sweet summary is consumer demand fell and many distilleries faced financial ruin. With no demand, Glen Moray hardly produced any whisky as blenders no longer required the anticipated level of stock. For several years until 1919, the distillery effectively produced nothing. Meaning a huge drain on the finances of the owners who went into liquidation around this time. This was the eve of consolidation across the industry where larger more robust and powerful groups were formed. In effect, this was the beginning of the corporations that we know today and their stockpiling of distilleries.
Finally, Glen Moray could deliver on its original purpose by producing for the blenders and has pretty much since remained constantly in production excluding the 2nd World War. The floor maltings were dispensed with circa 1958 and the interesting machinery in the form of the Saladin box remained in use until the end of the 1970s. Since then Glen Moray has claimed more of a single malt presence through affordable and well-made whiskies featuring a variety of imaginative cask finishes or a peated edition. This combined with widespread distribution means for many it is a safe choice and a pleasurable whisky to drink and on the wallet.
This Glen Moray was bottled by the Thompson Brothers in 2018 at an impressive 55.3% strength. Distilled in 2007 the ex-bourbon cask resulted in an outturn of 223 bottles with just 45 of these kept for the UK. This release is still available at £65 for a taste of Speyside. Thanks to the Dornoch bar for the sample and their distillery crowdfunding is still active.
Dornoch Glen Moray 2007 – review
Colour: apple juice
On the nose: a delicate arrival with a gentle vanilla influence and light honeyed nature. Ceylon cinnamon is in the mix as is pancake batter, sweetcorn, mace and lemon pepper. A lovely creaminess and balance with the cask even at this age.
In the mouth: juicy fruits with a bubblegum dynamic and creamy vanilla. Not overly complex but the wood isn’t forceful either just that balance again. I was too busy enjoying its captivating charms to remember to add water. Caramel and a floral aspect linger with mace and a touch of ginger.
A difficult whisky to score. Always the case with something that is youthful and maybe not hugely detailed, but delivers once you’ve poured a dram and taken a moment to reflect upon the price. Certainly less wood driven than many Glen Moray’s I’ve had in recent times, I find this one oddly compelling and another strong cask choice.