Glen Moray Distillery – A Visit
Nestled in a private housing estate in the town of Elgin is the wonderful Distillery, Glen Moray.
First a little history. In 1897 the Elgin West Brewery (dating from 1830) is reconstructed into what is now The Glen Moray Distillery. In 1920 the distillery got into financial troubles and was sold to Macdonald & Muir. (Who eventually changed their name to Glenmorangie plc). From the late nineties to date saw the distillery go from strength to strength with expansion and many new expressions including wood finishes and aged bottlings.
The Whisky. In 2004 Glenmorangie was purchased by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, and in that year a 1986 cask strength, a 20 and a 30-year-old were released. In 2008 Glen Moray was once again sold this time to the French company La Martiniquaise. Over the following years, many new expressions were released including, Mountain Oak, 14-Year-old Port finish, Chenin Blanc finish, Glen Moray Classic Port and Peated finishes to mention just a few. In 2017 to celebrate their 120th Anniversary The Glen Moray Mastery was launched. The most recent releases were Fired Oak and The Glen Moray Rhum Agricole.
I cannot finish this section without mentioning the Glen Moray Cider Cask Project, this is an Elgin Classic that was finished for two years in casks that previously held Thistly Cross Scottish craft cider. This bottling was my dram of 2019. But alas this process was not allowed by Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) as cider casks are not technically permitted within their guidelines. The SWA says that spirit can only be matured in “Traditional Oak Casks”. This is such a sad situation as this dram was utterly delightful.
I have visited Glen Moray Distillery on at least a dozen times, once or twice with Nicola (the other half of the Whisky Boys) and as an Ambassador for The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, I have taken many overseas Society Ambassadors and VIPs (from all around the world, USA, China, Singapore, Australia and Japan) on 3/4 day trips to Speyside/Highland Distilleries. On every trip, I have made certain that a visit to Glen Moray is on the Itinerary.
This distillery has a fantastic visitor centre which includes a coffee/snack shop, a full range of Whiskies and memorabilia, branded clothing and Whisky related books. In the centre you can also bottle your own, which in the past have been peated, port, sherry and wine finishes and the prices usually range from £50.00 to a little over £100.00.
When you visit you must take the distillery tour. Highlights include the three new wash stills built in Italy. My highlight of the tour is Warehouse 1, a traditional dunnage warehouse, but, resting against one of the walls was a selection of their casks. These casks were all casks that had previously contained other spirit or wine, they included bourbon, sherry, cognac Chardonnay, red wine, port, IPA, rum and last on the line is a cider cask. Behind each cask is a bottle of the Whisky that is from the cask below its plinth. This shows the variance of colour. Each cask has the bung loosened so that you can get into the cask and have a sniff of the fabulous aromas emanating from each cask, quite an experience.
After a tour around the distillery, it is time to have a tasting in the visitor centre. If you visit the distillery and Iain Allan (Glen Moray Global Brand Ambassador) is on duty then if you speak to him nicely he just might bring out something special from under the counter. After you’re tasting you will have ample time to browse the shop and pick up a bottle or two, or indeed fill your own. Also available at the shop is the smashing blend Label 5 and just recently purchased by La Martiniquaise is the Cutty Sark expressions. This distillery has approx. 25,000 visitors a year and The Whisky Boys hope you can become one soon.
Most of Glen Moray’s production falls into the style that is grapey, grassy with a good touch of barley, an ideal aperitif.
I cannot finish without giving you my impression of what I get on a visit to Glen Moray. I feel that after a short while I have become part of an extended Glen Moray family. The visitor centre staff are so welcoming and the tour guides are knowledgeable and enthusiastic and if they do not know the answer to a question they will spend time finding out. Whilst doing the tour all the production staff you come across to say hello and welcome you with a smile. Very experienced Visitor Centre staff are always on hand to give you recommendations.
The next time up we are in Speyside we will not miss a visit to Glen Moray.