And here we are, the first review of 2017. It’s been a while since I’ve got round to writing one of these, not for a lack of enjoying a dram every now and again! I’ve been busy with my new job and also decided to give myself a wee break after the marathon that was the Whisky Advent Calendar – a dram every day in December in the run up to Christmas, what an advent season it was! So to kick 2017 off I thought we would enjoy a lovely little dram from Glen Moray, their 10yo Chardonnay cask.
Glen Moray is located in Elgin, the capital of Speyside, which is a lovely town only a few miles from the Moray coast. On my Speyside Road Trip I actually spent a day walking around this historic town, as well as stopping by Glen Moray for a dram and a tour. Glen Moray is one of those distilleries, like so many, that were built on the site of an old brewery, owing to the areas abundance of reliable water and fertile barley growing land. Unlike most others, and on a not so cheery note, the ground that the distillery was built on also once included Elgin’s gallows, how lovely… If you are ever in Elgin then visiting Glen Moray is a must, simply for their warehouse experience, you get the chance to nose whiskies maturing in different types of casks which is a brilliant experience – my personal favourite was a 2007 Burgundy cask matured, wouldn’t mind getting a bottle of that to try! While on the subject of wine, the dram that we are enjoying today has been matured solely in ex Chardonnay wine casks for the whole duration of its ageing. I’m getting into my wine cask matured and finished whiskies as I find they give a whole new dimension to the usual range of flavours. Let’s get started.
It’s quite sweet upfront on the nose with a light hint of caramel and Caramac bars, which almost instantly is joined by a winey fruitiness. I wouldn’t say that it is overly like chardonnay, but more like fresh white grapes or grape juice. While on the fruitiness there is also a good amount of peaches and apricots here, which are covered in white chocolate and golden syrup. A strong character that comes through with this dram is a buttery-oily note, which carries a sweet malt aroma and the subtlest hint of smoke. Towards the back of the nose dried apple rings come through, as well as red apple peel, with a small dusting of vanilla. Overall the nose is sweet, surprisingly so and very rich and buttery, with a good amount of fruit coming through. I’m looking forward to taking a sip now!
There is a sweet tannic grapeyness upfront on the palate. It’s a note I always seem to get with these wine cask matured whiskies, especially white wine casks. It’s a note that reminds me of the flavour you get when you chew on the skin of a grape. It’s tannic and bitter, but sweet at the same time. That buttery and oily character carries through to the palate giving a rich and full bodied mouthfeel. Malt is again present, even more so than on the nose, though it is quite a drying malt character which is actually quite dominant. Just a splash of water opens this dram up dramatically; an intense sweetness comes through with caramel, butterscotch and runny honey. The water also brings forth more fresh fruits with apples, white grapes again and pear drop sweets. The palate is spicier than on the nose too with more vanilla and some white pepper pushing through.
The finish is packed with sweet and drying malted barley and a strong honeyed sweetness. The tannic grapeyness continues into the finish as does the apple, which is also joined by a lovely cinnamon-sugar taste. The finish is fairly short but it is quite characterful.
I think this is a great example of what different casks can offer in terms of innovation for Scotch whisky. Wine finishes are becoming ever more frequent but it is still quite a rarity seeing whisky that has been solely matured in ex-wine casks. For me personally I prefer red wine casks as I feel that the richer and more robust red wines are able to alter the casks more than the more delicate white wines. That said, this is very nice, it is a subtle wine character which means more of the distillery character comes through which I think is for the good. This bottle only cost around £25 – though I think it was on offer – and if you see it I would recommend giving it a shot. I have heard that this will be getting replaced very soon by an NAS bottling as they are struggling to keep up with demand, so if you haven’t tried, or you do like this one then get out to the shops before it’s too late.