Aug 302014

This is a youngish 10 year old, fully matured in chardonnay wine casks, offering a very high value for money.

Glen Moray is La Martiniquaise’s sole malt distillery (they own a grain distillery at Bathgate, halfway between Edinburgh and Glasgow ), providing single malt whisky for the Glen Turner and the Label 5 blends. Incidentally, Label 5 is one of the top 30 selling whisky brands in the world (at number 27), and the 10th highest selling Scotch brand. This position created some apprehension around the sale of the distillery from Glenmoarngie to La Martiniquaise’s. In fact, Glen Moray actually got a boost by being sold off by the Glenmorangie Group following its acquisition by LVMH, where it was only an afterthought brand. While remaining in French hands, Glen Moray is getting its own time in the limelight as a bona fides brand. About 50% of the 3.3 million liters produced annually are sold under its own label. Half of the remaining 50% of production goes into the blends and the other 25% are traded in reciprocal deals with other blenders.

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Glen Moray’s core range includes the NAS Classic, the 10 years old Chardonnay Cask, the 12 years old and the 16 years old – all of them chill filtered, caramel colored and bottled at 40%. A 25 year old Port Finish and a 30 year old are also available, bottled at 43%.


Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Glen Moray 10 Year Old Chardonnay Matured (40% ABV)

Appearance: Light copper, very quick legs.

Nose: Fresh bakery scents, flowers, cereal, fruity (fresh fruit – apples, pears and some tropical fruit notes) rather than heavily white wine-y. The nose isn’t overly complex yet is very enjoyable.

Palate: Sweet and sour with some spicy notes of cinnamon and pepper.

Linger: Very short and a little peppery with a lightly dry note.



Light and very drinkable, this expression is an lesson in creating good quality, good value products using basic ingredients. Chardonnay is by no means a high end wine, quite the opposite. Yet, having sourced good barrels, brought them over to Scotland whole and having allowed the spirit ample time to mature (albeit only for 10 years, but the results speak for themselves) Glen Moray has created a delightful expression. Yes, I would have preferred it to be bottled at 46% ABV and non chill filtered and with no coloring. But when you compare it to the whiskies it’s competing against (both on price level and maturity) – the Glenfiddich 12, Glenmorangie Original and The Glenlivet 12 – this expression will hold its own. All in all, this is a very nice dram, delivering excellent VFM.

I had this whisky while visiting my friend Dr. Raviv for a lovely whisky aficionado evening! 🙂

May 192014
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Not technically about the size or shape of the stills, this post will focus on the “smallest distillery in Scotland”.

The reason I put that title – so proudly etched on the distillery’s sign – in quotation marks is that it’s, quite simply, no longer true. Typical for boom times in the industry, new distilleries are being established in Scotland, and some of them are really small craft distilleries, even compared to Edradour, which is really small. Such are Wolfburn, Daftmill, Strathearn and Abhainn Dearg. Of these, only the Isle of Lewis based Abhainn Dearg has some limited editions out there (see here), but I have, however, yet to come across it in the flesh. So for the time being, limited as it may be, I’ll treat The Edradour as the smallest distillery in Scotland, with an output of just 130,000 liters per year (compare with Glenfarclas’ more than twenty fold capacity at 3.4 million liters) , and a really impressive wood policy.

The small core range includes the 10 Year Old and the 12 Year Old Caledonia Selection which is sherry matured, and is expected to grow at the end of this year with another permanent additon.  What sets The Edradour apart is the very broad selection of wood maturation and finishes which is untypical of large distilleries and astonishing for such a small one, considering the work and expense involved in sourcing quality barrels.

The distillery has a colorful history with American mafia connection, sunken ships and a novel written based upon these occurrences (Whisky Galore by Compton Mackenzie), but has really hit its stride (and became really interesting wood wise) since 2002, when Signatory Vintage  bought the distillery. At that point, a plethora of wood finishes and full maturation in special casks appeared, and you can find “Straight from the Cask” series and some regular bottlings of whisky finishes in sherry butts, port casks, Chardonnay, Ruby Port, Marsala, Burgundy, Barolo and Gaja Barolo, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Sauternes, Moscatel, Bordeaux, Madeira, Sassicaia red wine, Super Tuscan wine casks, Cotes de Provence, Tokaji and Grande Arome rum cask together with a bourbon cask release straight from the cask. Obviously, some of these were received better in the marketplace than others, so some were available from only one cask (about 450 bottles of 50cl) while others have enjoyed multiple releases of casks in the SFTC line. Nevertheless, this is a mind boggling richness of wood for any distillery, especially one producing only about a dozen barrels a week, and much exploration can be had with this series.

Another direction the distillery is taking is the heavily peated Ballechin line, with about one fifth of its production. There have been eight releases so far in Burgundy, Madeira, port, oloroso, Marsala, bourbon, Bordeaux and Sauternes casks. It’s expected for a 10 Year Old Ballechin to become part of the core range from the end of 2014.

Which sets the stage for tonight’s tasting of the 18 Year Old 1993 Sauternes Finish:

Edradour 18 Year Old 1993 Sauternes Finish (52.7 ABV, uncolored, non chill filtered) 

Edradour 18 Year Old 1993 Sauternes Finish

This whisky was distilled on December 20th, 1993 and transferred to Sauternes wine casks from Chateau D’Yquem for a 42 month long finish. It was bottled at cask strength in April 2012.

Color: Deep gold with a yellowish hue I attribute to the Sauternes. Legs are slow, thin and close

Nose: Tangerines, orange toffee candies, nutmeg,  fresh peaches and cream overlying a layer of malt.

Pallate: Sweet and mouth coating, like biting down on that orange toffee with an alcoholic filling. Ever so slight lacticity and Cointreau over orange and vanilla ice cream.

Finish: Slightly metallic sweetness, giving way to a somewhat dry mouth feel. Long linger all the way into the stomach.