When the Glen Moray distillery was rebuilt in 1958 the traditional floor maltings were replaced with a so-called Saladin box, which remained in use for two decades. In 1978 the malting at the
distillery ceased altogether and one year later the number of stills was expanded from two to four.
In 1996 Macdonald & Muir Ltd. changed their name to Glenmorangie plc.
This was indicative for a stronger focus on the Glenmorangie brand, a focus that grew even stronger when Glenmorangie plc was sold to purveyors of luxury products Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessey in 2004. So, it didn't really come as a surprise when Louis Vuitton announced in 2008 that they wanted to withdraw from the production of malt whisky for blends altogether.
In 2008 French company La Martiniquaise bought Glen Moray.
When Glenmorangie and Glen Moray were still owned by
the same company, Glen Moray's portfolio was expanded
along the lines of earlier Glenmorangie brand extensions;
'finished' whiskies. Some five years after Glenmorangie
launched its Port, Madeira & Sherry finishes in 1994, Glen
Moray followed suit with a Chardonnay finished bottling
without an age statement and two Chenin Blanc versions,
one of them 12yo and the other slightly older at 16yo.
I have to admit that it was around the same time that
I fell out of love with Glen Moray. During the 1990's I
have consumed many bottles of the regular Glen Moray
12yo, depicted at the right. It wasn't a 'high flyer', but
a very decent malt whisky with a very decent price tag.
The friendly price guaranteed the regular Glen Moray 12yo a spot on my Bang-For-Your-Buck List
of single malt whiskies with a good relation between price and quality. However, by the turn of
the millennium the aforementioned 'finishes' appeared and most of the Glen Moray portfolio lost
its charm for me. The recent releases (especially the younger ones) simply didn't excite me quite
as much as they used to. What's more, due to their focus on producing affordable whiskies they
never laid down large stocks of older casks of Glen Moray malt whisky. There have only been a
handful of older releases, there's a 30yo OB and 1963 and 1964 vintages were released in 2006.
Glen Moray (Pronounced: glen MOray)
57°38'36.906 N, 3°20'42.4176 W
Miltonduff, Glenburgie, Linkwood
2 Wash stills, 2 Spirit stills
2,300,000 litres of pure alcohol per year
La Martiniquaise (since 2008)
Elgin, Morayshire IV30 IYE, Scotland, UK
Yes - and it seems they give daily tours as well
Below, on WhiskyFun and on the Malt Maniacs Monitor
Scores & tasting notes:
2004 - For a long time, Glen Moray has been the 'sister distillery' of Glenmorangie, under the same ownership.
Both distilleries came under new ownership when Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy acquiredd their mother company Glenmorangie plc (which had operated under the name Macdonald & Muir Ltd. until 1996).
2008 - French company La Martiniquaise shows interest in the distillery and a so-called 'Heads of Terms agreement' for the sale of Glen Moray is signed. The deal went ahead and the sale was completed on October 31, 2008.
2009 - For the first time in its history, Glen Moray produces a batch of peated spirit with 40 PPM phenols.
The Glen Moray distillery
started out as the West Brewery (founded in
1828), but in 1897 it was converted into a whisky distillery with two stills.
Glen Moray was operational until 1910 when it was closed. It was briefly
reopened in 1912 but closed again the same year, after which the distillery
remained silent for almost a decade.
In 1920 Macdonald & Muir
(who already owned a share in Glenmorangie)
bought Glen Moray after the distillery found itself confronted with financial
problems. The new owners (who were offered to buy Aberlour at the same
time but chose Glen Moray) managed to resume production in 1923. With
the exception of the year 1932 when no whisky was produced at all, the
distillery remained in production until 1958 when it was reconstructed.
Glen Moray's portfolio was rejuvenated.
If I'm not mistaken, the 12 years old OB depicted
above was the youngest bottle in the range during
the 1990's, but these days the standard Glen Moray
is the 'classic' - presumably circa eight years old. This
fits with ongoing attempts from 'the industry' to try to
encourage consumers to get accustomed to younger
and blander whiskies. They're not upfront about this,
though. In 2008 the Glen Moray website said;
"Glen Moray Distillery nestles on the banks of the River Lossie in the city of Elgin, the capital of Speyside, a region synonymous with malt whisky. Glen Moray Single Malt Whisky has been distilled here since 1897 by a small dedicated team of craftsmen. In over a century of distilling at Glen Moray, much has changed, however the ingredients, processes and skills of those responsible for producing Glen Moray remain constant."
Well, that's the romantic fairy tale - or, to be more frank, a big fat fib! For one thing, it's highly likely that the ingredients have indeed changed; more and more of the barley to make 'Scotch' whisky is shipped in from abroad. And as far as the processes are concerned: those MOST DEFINITELY did not include the deliberate finishing of whisky in 'maturing' wine casks - as opposed to perhaps the accidental finishing in a 'transport' wine cask.
1) The Glen Moray distillery is located near the historical Fort George, just below the Gallowcrook Hill (where, until the end of the 17th century, executions were carried out).
2) The original road into Elgin (the capital of Speyside) passes through the distillery grounds.
This used to be an important road and some historical figures are said to have travelled along it, including Macbeth, Saint Columba, King Duncan and Bonnie Prince Charlie.
3) According to their website, Glen Moray exclusively uses ex-bourbon barrels from North America to mature the Glen Moray malt whisky. These are said to produce a whisky with rich and spicy characteristics, delivering a superior product that has a smooth and well-rounded taste.
4) New French owners La Martiniquaise already owned several blend brands, including Glen Turner & Label 5.
5) The last time that new pot stills were installed at Glen Moray distillery was in 1992.
Glen Moray 24yo 1986/2011 (51.7%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, C#2306, 249 Bts.)
Nose: Organics and spices right away. Coconut - the liquorice all sorts variety rather than the real stuff.
Quite lovely. String beans. Echoes of the organics I found in the start. A lovely and evolving complexity.
Taste: Fairly mellow and not as 'fresh' as the nose. Menthol. A gentle but very long, cool finish.
The tannins hang around extremely long. Touch of pine. Vanilla too - I usually have a blind spot for that.
Score: 85 points - this one was pushed into the shadows a bit at the Malt Maniacs Awards 2011.
Glen Moray 12yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2007)
Nose: Prickly. Chloride. Some subtle fruits (kiwi) emerges after a while. Not as 'round' as it used to be.
Taste: Chalk and yoghurt - I'm afraid that's all my notes say. So, not too expressive I guess.
Score: 70 points - this old favourite has now ended up at the bottom of the 'average' bracket.
Glen Moray NAS 'Chardonnay' (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2001)
Nose: Sweet and sour. Yeast or dough? Some oil in the background as well. It has a very distinct fruity element.
It reminds me of a young white wine or grappa. Smokier, spicier and peatier after five minutes.
Taste: Sweet and malty on the palate. A little nutty. Not very powerful.
Alcoholic. Quite flat, to tell you the truth. Dry and winey finish. An unbalanced bottling of Glen Moray.
Score: 71 points - Nice, but it lacks depth and complexity. Light and accessible.
Glen Moray 12yo 'Chenin Blanc' (40%, OB, 'Mellowed in Wine Barrels', Bottled +/- 2001)
Nose: Faintly oily with a few woody notes. Soft sweetness. Peppery.
Some salt after a while. More 'winey' after a few minutes. Oily with something reminding me of sweet cakes.
Taste: Round and smooth at first. Some sweetness. Then bitter and sour. Oaky - more so than the 'classic'.
Very dry finish, a little gritty. This stuff makes you thirsty and go for a quick refill.
Score: 72 points - the finish of the Chenin Blanc version is oakier than that of the older 'classic' version.
Glen Moray 12yo 'Elgin Classic' (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 1999)
Nose: Heather with a dash of sherry. Some smoke; a little peat later on. Slightly smoky?
Sweet. Grassy? Some very faint citrus notes after 10 minutes. Really opens up.
Taste: A warm glow; very malty. Rather smooth and creamy. A little too dry in the finish.
Score: 75 points - too bad this whisky was replaced with the 'Chenin Blanc' version.
Glen Moray 12yo 'Elgin Classic' (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 1995, 70cl)
Nose: It displayed a fresh and round aroma. Sweets?
The bouquet of this Glen Moray triggered an overpowering flashback of heather in August.
Taste: Fresh and spicy, but unfortunately it disappeared too soon. Quite dry.
Score: 75 points - a nice autumn-malt by Glen Moray at a very nice price, too.
The Glen Moray 13yo 1980/1993 (43%, Master of Malt, Cask #80/81)
Nose: Grainy and a little oily - but altogether not very expressive. Something dusty?
Much lighter than any of the OB's I've tried - it has none of the 'malty' character.
Taste: Oy! A little soapy at first. Then sweeter and fruitier, followed by smoke.
Hmmm, despite a weak start it grows on me very quickly. Very pleasant mouth feel.
Score: 72 points - not a bad malt whisky, but it loses points in the nose AND on the palate.
The nose has none of the warm and fuzzy maltiness I found in the old OB's of the 1990's.
Glen Moray 10yo (70° Proof, OB, Black label with vintage in red square, Bottled +/- 1980)
Nose: Sweet with a hint of raspberry. Very elegant. Drops off relatively quickly, though... Chartreuse.
Taste: Hmmm... Something 'herbal' (Jagermeister) I'm not too crazy about. Incredible body. Bitter finish.
Score: 80 points - making it the best Glen Moray I've tried so far. Gradually loses a few points over time.
These were not all (official & independent) bottlings of Glen Moray Scotch whisky I've tried over the years.
Besides, these tasting notes only reflect my own, personal opinion; your tastes might be different from mine.
Fortunately, you can find the scores and tasting notes from up to two dozen other whisky lovers in the 'Malt Maniacs Monitor' - an independent whisky database with details on more than 15,000 different whiskies from Scotland and the rest of the world. Visit the Glen Moray page on the MMMonitor and select 'scorecard view' if you want to know how other whisky lovers felt about the hundreds of Glen Moray expressions that were released in recent years. However, if you'd like to learn more about whisky in general (and single malt Scotch whisky in particular), you might want to check out the Beginner's Guide to Scotch whisky (10 chapters filled with everything you need to fully enjoy and appreciate a glass of single malt whisky) or the mAlmanac (sort of a rudimentary whisky shopping guide.)
Is the distillery or