EDIT; this whisky was found to be in violation of SWA rulings and is no longer produced.
Ah, Glen Moray. I have a special place in my heart for these guys. They produce weirder and more wonderful stuff than almost anyone else, and constantly the whiskies they release feel to be well thought out attempts at making something different as opposed to some companies doing the same thing for a shameless cash grab “special edition” (you guys know the companies I’m talking about). And, Glen Moray combines two things I love; the ingenuity of the Scots and the experimentation of the French.
Changing like many from a brewery to a distillery way back in the tail end of the 19th century, Glen Moray sits on the banks of the River Lossie, Elgin. Closed in 1910, it was picked up by Macdonald and Muir (The Glenmorangie) in 1923, and by 1999 we saw the first of Glen Morays forays into the unknown; the Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc releases. Shortly after in 2004, LVMH sold off Glen Moray to La Martinique. Why? I couldn’t tell you, and I’ve had many evenings in a pub where people have tried to explain it to me but they can never seem to get it right either.
In any case, Glen Moray really are pioneers when it comes to special cask releases and finishes, and continue to this day to impress with their creativity. Take this for example; the Glen Moray Cider Cask. So if I wanted to mature a Scotch in a cider cask, it would that easy, right? Wrong. Due to some pesky laws from the SWA, if I aged whisky in a “virgin cider cask”, it would fall out of the boundaries of whisky, and would not be permitted under their current laws. Glen Moray found a clever way around this by sending Thistly Cross some ex-whisky casks, having them mature some cider, and then when those casks returned matured their whisky in it.
A roundabout way, to be sure, but the SWA sure does like to make things fun for all of us. The result is unlike any Scotch to come before it; the first Scotch whisky matured in ex-cider casks. Initially only available through The Whisky Exchange, now the Cider cask can be found in retailers all over, and well worth picking up for those looking to grow their more interesting and exotic collections.
It all starts very sweet, plonking us down next to a tree of yellowing apples, grown wrinkly in the sun. These wizened apples drip with juice, and lead into lemon, oak, honey, hay and young green grapes with a touch of tartness, sherbet sweetness coming through the back as the nose rounds out. If we delve further then the sweetness of these fruits drop off and cooked sugars start to comes through, with demerara sugar melted over baked apples and juicy roast figs, spreading warm summer time through us as we pick at soft vanilla fudge and apple slices dipped in lemon juice.
A single drop on the palate has all the flavour you might ask for; sweet apples (think Granny Smith pressed juice), lemon sherbet, ground passionfruit and dried kiwi fruits before vanilla ice-cream topped with melted caramel, quickly hardening and showcasing all manner of flavour. As we move through we are met with a stampede of oak, lemon oils, and some vaguely acetonal drops before a sharp finish that wakes you up, but is inconsistent with the rest of the dram before touching down into salted young apples once again, rounding out the finish but leaving us a touch wanting.
I liked it. It was a change of pace, something new, something different, and made we wonder what Glen Moray might be foraying into next. Weirdly enough, the mouthfeel of the finish is quite bubbly, and for a split second here and there you might think you were drinking a super heavy cider, and that was the most appealing part of the dram due to the sheer change it was from the norm.
If you pick up a bottle, and I say do try to, it’s not one you’ll finish in a week. Rather it’s something you’ll sip here and there over the next few weeks and months as you try to come to grips with the difference in the flavours and show it to all your mates. Now if you’ll excuse me, Somewhiskybloke is flying back to the UK for Christmas, Whisky, and most importantly, Somewhiskylass. Who knows what we else we might try over the next two weeks?
(Credit and thanks to Master of Malt for the photo)