The biggest exporter of whisky in the world, Scotland is renowned for its expertise in the distilling process that spans centuries. While some favorites have managed to come out of plants in America, Canada, Ireland and even some parts of Asia, the characteristics synonymous with the prestige and pioneering of distillery process and expression is unique to the climate, geography and culture of each whisky making region to Scotland.
In a country with over 130 whisky distilleries, Glen Moray hosted a masterclass hosted by its Ambassador, Iain Allan who reintroduced us to its history with a compelling story defining the brand’s edge. The single malt has been produced since 1897 in Speyside, a town that flourishes amid many barley farms, it’s where more than half of the country’s whisky is produced. Sitting in the north east of the country, the high levels of quartzite in the River Spey which feeds into the town prevents natural minerals from dissolving and therefore altering the taste of its water serving as a desirable base for the decade long processes of maturation. More than 2.3 million litres of single malt is produced in the modest compound which draws water for its batches from the River Lossie.
The knowledge of Glen Moray is embodied by Allan who meticulously details the company’s distillation process and how it is carefully controlled to ensure that the desired flavors and aromas are captured. He reminds us of the subjective experience of whisky which is why Glen Moray has continually evolved for scores and decades with a comprehensive range of 23 brands. It’s this evolution that has seen their range build on their previously peated only selection and experimentation with wine and beer cask barrels. It’s their obsession with the maturation process which visitors to their distillery can see in progress through transparent casks as single malt comes of age and as product inevitably evaporates that has led to new enhancements and renditions beyond their predominantly fruity and light signature profiles.
The selection that is highlighted in the day’s masterclass tasting demonstrates various contrasts and evolutions to the Glen Moray finishing. Starting with their traditional baseline signature of their 12 year old single malt, a safe and classic choice that expresses with a perfect balance in spirit and cask wood. As we are introduced to the Elgin, we learn the oilness and velvety texture that lingers longer than their classic staple results from the finishing of 5 years respectively in bourbon then chardonnay casks. It’s in these unpacking of technique and formulation that any novice begins to understand the true relationship the drinker has with a particular batch of whisky at a given point in time. Throughout the tasting are perfectly weaved anecdotes and inside stories to the company’s history. Trials and development with the introduction of new processes and finishing techniques in a mission of perpetual innovation while remaining true to its origins. In one rendition, the carbonic charcoal smokiness of an unpeated expression takes the Glen Moray flavour to new heights.
This International Whisky Day (20 May), the confidence in the Glen Moray is an ideal choice for enthusiasts. Each batch, a reflection of complex flavors and aromas unique to the pallate of its drinkers carefully articulated through the development of finishing techniques in its repertoire. As result, creates an intimate experience with its capturing the rich history and spirit of Speyside in each bottle.