Monday, January 5, 2015

Whisky Review: Glen Moray 12 Year

Glen Moray is another distillery in Speyside that has mostly focused on production for blends, though their single malts have garnered a certain amount of fame/infamy. I'll let Malt Madness give you the details, but Glen Moray followed its big brother Glenmorangie's lead during the 1990s, releasing a number of wine cask matured and finished whiskies. Some of these were well-received, others less so.

This particular expression is about as basic as you get - all of the spirit was matured in ex-bourbon barrels for a dozen years, then proofed down for bottling at 40%, presumably with coloring and chill filtration.

Thanks to Florin for the sample.

Glen Moray 12 Year

Nose: lots of new make notes - sour green grass and barley, sugarcane, white wine, a whiff of vanilla and cinnamon smoke, dry grain, very light oak (more with time), lightly floral, pineapple, berries underneath. After adding a few drops of water, there are some odd sour citrus overtones, along with more grass and floral notes, and something kind of soapy, but it does get creamier with a bit more vanilla.

Taste: sweet barley throughout, rather green and bitter, with new make and slightly sour wine notes riding over everything, uncomplicated but soft. After dilution, the new make character settles down a bit, though the barley itself becomes more grassy and bitter - not much improvement, but it doesn't fall apart either.

Finish: fresh barley, a touch of wine, bitter grain/oak

This reads to me like a much, much younger whisky. It seems like most of it came from relatively inactive casks, as there's very minimal oak influence and the spirit itself is in the fore. To put a positive spin on that, it is, as Florin puts it, 'honest'. There are some vaguely interesting things going on with the nose, but it kind of falls flat on the palate for me. Overall, I found that it improved a fair bit with time in the glass, but never really lost its youthfulness. It's possible that this would be improved by higher strength - my experience with a bottle of Arran Bourbon Single Cask found that the off-notes were strengthened significantly by dilution - but it's hard to know.

All of this should be taken with a grain of salt, since I tend to be rather sensitive to new make character in a whisky (this is also why I've never been able to warm up to genever). Glen Moray also has the virtue of being extremely cheap - you can find the 12 Year for under $30 in some places - though I would pony up the extra cash for Glenmorangie Original if I was looking for a basic bourbon cask whisky.


  1. I remember a time, cca 2006, when I'd walk to Vons, grab a bottle of the Glen Moray NAS (or was it a 8yo?) for $18, and drink a good deal of it with a visiting old friend. This is before whisky became the point of the conversation. Somehow I remember that to have been better than the current 12yo, or than the Speyburn 10yo. Today, I'll pick the Speyburn over the Glen Moray 9-10 times out of 10.

    On the other hand, I have a handful of bottles open right now that are less inspiring than the GM12, and similar in style, - including Benromach Traditional and a couple single casks from random distilleries.

  2. I thought it was pleasant enough--an unchallenging easy drinker but there's a time and place for those. And I don't think I remarked any new makey notes beyond a slight, initial butyric note (or at least none I identified in that way).