Thursday, August 15, 2013

A taste of things to come - Glen Moray 25yo Syndey Launch

Glen Moray expressions up for tasting on the night
On the 1st August 2013, I was invited to attend a special launch of the Glen Moray 25yo recently released here in Australia. Hosted at the humble small bar Since I left You we were treated to a fine selection of entree's and cocktails before proceeding to straight into the tastings presented by Distillery Manager Graham Coull.

Glen Moray (or Glen Murray as Grahams accent made it sound) is a Scottish Speiside distillery founded in 1897. At present it produces around 2 million litters of whisky annually. Of note the distillery resided briefly in the direct control of Glenmorrangie from 2004 until 2008 (which gained Glen Moray the reputation as The Unloved Distillery) where it was then sold onto the French liquor company La Martiniquaise. Why The Unloved Distillery? According to folk lore but more so based on what Graham told me after I brought the subject up was that Glenmorangie simply got the bulk of marketing focus even though at times he felt Glen Moray was producing some superior whiskies. Note that Graham never use the words "Unloved Distillery", that was my comment at the time.

Graham Coull settles in for an educational experience
Cheery Graham of course started the presentation with a quick overview of the brand and products but wanted to make things quite clear from the onset that that this was going to be an "educational exercise". Very well put by Graham as he wanted us to explore the whiskies on hand and complimented each whisky with a choice of cheese to suite the pallet. Graham was more than happy all the way through the event to field any questions we may to through at him an he was not reserved in hushing the talkative energetic crowd as things got a bit wild. I personally found a selection of the crowd a bit rude with the general chit chat going on as though this was just another catchup with old friends. I have seen this happen a couple of times at tasting events in the past and it is easy to see how insulted and frustrated the speakers can get. No need for it people.

Table setup clearly showing the variation in colours of the expressions
Arranged for our tasting was 5 drams of the full family lineup. Below are my brief notes taken on the night and the accompanying cheeses selected by Graham to additionally enhance the flavour. It is nice to have something paired with a whisky as quite often at home I will have something like cheese, chocolate, or fruit cake to keep the pallet fresh.

Glen Moray Classic

This standard release is a no age statement though Graham offered that the whisky spends 5 to 9 years in first and 2nd fill ex bourbon cask before being vatted together to create this standard expression. I have never found this expression to my tastes but it was paired quite well with a creamy goats cheese and I cannot complain that it did not go down well.

Glen Moray 10yo Chardonnay Cask

By far a much more approachable whisky with a crisp poppy essence on the pallet and spicy notes toward the back. This whisky is aged 100% in French Burgundy Chardonnay casks and paired very well with the crumbly blue vein cheese giving a nice spike. I really enjoyed this dram.

Glen Moray 12yo

This whisky has always held a lot of bitterness on my pallet. Sure enough much more complex than the Classic but it gives me a harsh burn. The Parmesan cheese cut the burn down and the added cheese salts gave a nice lift but still no to my tatses.

Glen Moray 16yo

This was my 2nd favourite on the night. A clear deference from the lighter floral Speiside's one expects. Some nice coffees notes followed by dark fruit and nut chocolates coming through almost immediately. The fruit and nuts is a classic case of a sherry finish but it is not so overpowering. Half the batch sees 16 years in ex sherry casks while the other half sees its 16 years of servitude maturing in ex bourbon casks before being vetted to create this complex whisky. Accompanied by an aged cheddar was enjoyable though a spicy fruit cake would have enticed my pallet even more. I do enjoy cheddar with my whiskies though.

Glen Moray 25yo Port Wood Finish

I liked this whisky but can't say it was my favourite. All the subtle complexities of an aged whisky is clear and the casks were well chosen as no musty mothballs could be sensed on the pallet (something I have come to expect with many older whiskies of this vintage). This release of 3,482  bottles is 1986 ex bourbon casks that then saw a final 2 years in ex port casks. I sensed a lot of green herbs, fresh cut oregano, cola and a spicy dryness on the finish. This whisky was served with a aged gruyere which went down a treat. Price wise it is up in the $200+ and I am a bit edgy on saying it is worth it. I think if it could get down around the $170 a bottle or a bit less it would see some good sales. I think I need another few drams of this to do a proper tasting also so I do not think I am doing it justice here.

Since I Left You inside and out
Eye opener for the night is certainly the 10yo Chardonnay Cask. It took the light from the 25yo in my opinion, as it is a much more accessible whisky for the general putters like myself. It certainly has reinvigorated my interest in the brand as past experiences have not be overly great. I urge you to go try the 10yo Chardonnay Cask if nothing else.

In Australia Glen Moray is a Woolworths exclusive release so you will only find them at your local Dan Murphy's and BWS. Pricing of the family is reasonable and as some in the club have recognised as good value for money. My local Dan Murphy's in Castle Hill only holds 3 expressions but I am sure there will be more soon enough.

Graham Coull was great to talk to and gave a wealth of information about the distillery and the whiskies. Graham was obviously out here for the Glen Moray 25yo launch but he was making appearances at Whisky Live in some cities around Australia. Graham is only the 5th distillery manager in the history of Glen Moray and is very proud not only of the status that the position delivers but also in what he has produced and where he is guiding the distillery for the future.

The bar only moments before the crowd arrived.
The bar, Since I left You, was great and even though it was packed out the door. The staff were on hand constantly and eager to help out wherever possible. Unfortunately they were way to eager and though I had crept through the tasting well enough, I had deliberately reserved half drams of all in order to return to them at the end of the session. As I got up momentarily to say hi to a few fellow whisky appreciators and when I turned back around my entire placement was cleared and cleaned including additional notes jotted down next to each whisky on the tasting sheet. Pity. Not sure if this was the bars first whisky tasting hosting but I shall give warning that passing plates of dripping cheese and crumbling toast over tables full of uncovered glasses of whisky it a big no no. Ouch! I must have asked the waiter to back off a good 4 or 5 times over the course of the night as food started falling left and right around my glasses.

On a good note Since I Left You had a great little menu to back up the quite large selection of wines, beers, and sprits on offer. An enjoyable location with a unique outdoor seating in the lane to support the inner bar. Towards the end of the night a rather devilish sandwich was served that tasted pretty naughty and is one of their biggest sellers. I am not sure what it was called but it was a combination of Mashed Banana, Nutella, and Peanut Butter, toasted and then sprinkled with Cinnamon. Sweet and savoury all at the same time.

Thanks to Brittany Conner and DEC PR for the personal invite it was much appreciated. Graham made for a great presenter and a passionate manager adding to the overall enjoyable experience.

The Baron

D.T.W.C. was invited as a guest this event. All views and opinions are our own unless otherwise stated.