Glen Moray Elgin Classic and Glen Moray 12-Year-Old

Glen Moray Elgin Classic and Glen Moray 12-Year-Old


Baruchim HaBa’im  - Welcome: Glen Moray Single Malt whiskies to Israel.


Since the beginning of the 2018, to my great delight, bottles of Glen Moray Single Malt have began appearing on our whisky shelves here in Israel.  For years, Glen Moray has been one of the bestselling single malts in the UK, widely available from most British supermarkets and Off Licenses. Its arrival here in Israel is long overdue as this whisky is probably responsible, (far more than any other brand), for introducing people to the wonderful world of Single Malt whiskies.
There is good reason for this. It is, in my opinion, the most approachable beginner’s single malt on the market which can be enjoyed pouring straight from the bottle with no messing about  with adding water or waiting for the alcohol heat to calm down.

Glen Moray will appeal to a very wide audience as it is, at the same time, so gentle on the palate , yet full of character and multliple flavours. It is floral and fruity without being over sweet, malty without being dry, balanced vanilla flavours without being over charred and heavy. What’s more, for those on a budget, the Non Aged Statement “Classic” expression is one of the cheapest Single Malt whiskies on the market and their 12-Year-Old, probably the cheapest in its price range as well.
Moreover, it is particularly suited for the Israeli religious market as the majority of its bottlings are 100% American Ex-Bourbon cask matured which means no kashrut issues. (However, see below when I discuss a problem with its kashrut certification).


For the time being, the Israeli importers have only brought in the “Classic” NAS and the 12-Year-Old. Sorely missing however, is the sister to the Classic NAS, the “Peated Classic” which uses a percentage of peated barley in the mash for a mild and creamy introduction to smoky peated whiskies, and the 18-Year-Old which holds its own against similar age statement Speyside whiskies yet costs considerably less. Be’ezrat Hashem we shall see these two expressions being added to the range here in Israel very soon.


I mentioned that Glen Moray is more often than not, the first single malt, at least in the UK, that anyone purchases, and that included myself! Consequently, Glen Moray still holds a special place in my heart and remains an essential whisky in my collection, often gracing our Shabbos table, despite many whisky snobs who, because of its reputation for being a budget beginners single malt, say that they would not be seen dead drinking it. In my opinion, their misplaced superciliousness attitude towards this distillery is depriving them of the enjoyment of a really great dram.
The first single malt whisky I ever bought was The Glen Moray 12 Years Highlanders Edition - “The Argyl and Sutherland Highlanders. Commemorative Edition.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
I came across it browsing through the shelves of the Duty Free at Heathrow airport way back in 1988! It caught my eye because of the fancy touristy tin box, the beautiful watercolour style artwork of the bottle label, (which sadly has been discarded for the now generic blue label), and of course, the price! When I returned to my new home in Israel and cracked open the bottle, (pouring it into a giant whisky tumbler as back then I had never heard of Glencairn glasses, or for that matter, chill filtering), I was instantly hooked.

Today, despite having been the cheapest Duty Free single malts at the airport, these 12 Year Olds from the 1980s, unopened in their original tin can are going for a song at auction. Although my bottles are long gone, I still have the tin cans on my book shelf.
I don’t have any samples from the 1980s but from recollection, the quality of these whiskies have not diminished and tastes pretty much as I remember from 30 years ago.
Problematic Teudat Kashrut – Sometimes, nothing is better than something.

 

From my research, Glen Moray Elgin Classic, Peated Elgin Classic, 12-Year-Old and 18-Year-Old have no kashrut issues whatsoever.
From the Glen Moray official Internet site:
The Elgin Classic. “Our signature Single Malt. Aged for an average of seven years in entirely ex-bourbon casks, the majority of which are first-fill. The Elgin Classic is light, smooth, easy-drinking and competitively priced.”


The Elgin Classic Peated. “The intense and subtly-smoked expression of our Classic Single Malt, this is the perfect easy-drinking introduction to peated whiskies. Matured in ex-bourbon casks for added spiciness.”
The 12-Year-Old. “Aged in the finest American oak, there's a hint of toastiness to this elegant malt, a wonderfully balanced whisky with a subtle sweetness. A sublime marriage of summer fruits and mellow vanilla, it's intended to be savoured and enjoyed.”
The 18-Year-Old. “Only the very best finest American oak barrels have been selected to emphasize the incredibly smooth character and taste of Glen Moray 18 year Single Malt. An intense whisky with a perfect structure, the soft flavours of sweet vanilla balanced with oak from the casks.”
However, the importers of Glen Moray have decided (for whatever reason), to pay for their product to bear the Kashrut Certification of the Triangle-K organisation.
Every single Orthodox Kashrut organisation which is universally trusted by mainstream Orthodox Jews all over the world, such as the London Beth Din, Manchester Beth Din, OU, Star-K and CrC, none of them include Triangle-K amongst the list of trustworthy Kashrut organisations, despite the fact that many products with Triangle-K certification are actually approved by them! A case in point is the Star-K of New Jersey which approves the above Glen Moray expressions.

[See the CrC Directory of Kosher Certifying Agencies as an example].

I do not know the decision process that went into choosing Triangle-K but I strongly suspect that the Israeli importers are not aware of the fact that many Orthodox Jews, particularly those who are makpid (careful) and who look for a kashrut certification on a product, DO NOT consider TRIANGLE-K a reliable hechshir.
Ironically, printing Triangle-K certification on their product will actually have the effect of putting many Orthodox Jews off purchasing it. Many of my friends have told me that they have had to think twice about buying Glen Moray for their simchas as a direct result of the Triangle-K symbol printed on the label, because they don’t want guests to think that they are somech on Trangle-K. This has resulted in them choosing another whisky that has a more reliable hechshir or actually one that has no hechshir at all! In order words, sometimes, nothing is better than something!

*** UPDATE ***

After speaking to a source in the Israeli Kashrut business who will remain nameless, it seems that this is the explanation:

Triangle-K is, for some reason, (as can be seen on the importer's label), (unlike KLBD, Star-K, CrC, MBD, OK etc), is recognised by the Chief Rabbanut of Israel!

So purchasing a teudat hechshir from the Triangle-K happens to be the cheapest way of obtaining an ishur from the "Rabbanut HaRashit LeYisrael". This then enables the importers to sell their product to all the kosher restaurants here in Israel. It's as simple as that!

Glen Moray distillery is situated in the town of  Elgin, Moray.

 

Glen Moray Distillery visits.

 

 
 

Not only was Glen Moray the first single malt whisky I ever bought, it is the very first distillery I visited where I received a private one-on-one tour of the warehouse to discuss the use of Ex-Sherry casks in whisky maturation and its kashrut ramifications. I was escorted round the warehouse by the warehouse manager, Malcolm and spent some 2 hours pelting him with questions…and so began my education in Ex-Sherry Cask use in the Scottish Whisky industry. Despite Glen Moray being sold in almost every Off-License and supermarket up and down the UK, the distillery itself does not look like a chemical factory (unlike Tomintoul and Tamnavulin) and retains that quaint “oldy-worldy” atmosphere about it.
Over the years I have been back there a few times and it remains a very pleasant distillery visit experience.
My fondest whisky drinking memory in Scotland.
Last year, my father was recovering from a serious illness and I invited my parents to join us in a beautiful log cabin near Forres for a relaxing getaway. There we were, after a delicious dinner of freshly grilled Scottish salmon and hot vegetable soup, sitting with my father in this Speyside log cabin in front of a [fake] open log fire, chatting away whilst sipping Glen Moray Elgin Classic bought for £18 at the local Tesco supermarket. The perfect dram to finish a long day of touring. After our glasses were drained, I asked my father if he wanted a second. He didn’t say no. This whisky, as my mother says, is very-very “More-ish”!
Packaging and Art Work.
The two Glen Moray expressions available in Israel so far, come in thin cardboard boxes. In the past, Glen Moray came in a solid tube canister or, back in the early 1980s, in a touristy tin box.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The overall artwork design is to me, frankly cheap looking. The use of single colour blue and bland display of “Glen Moray” on the label gives it a cut-rate, bargain basement priced Blended Whisky appearance. This is a far cry from the exquisite bottle label of the 1980s.


To me, the picturesque water-colour style painting of the distillery and elegant font used, gave it a romantic, tranquil and small cottage industry craft presentation which in my opinion, would really appeal to today’s whisky punters. They really ought to bring this label back.
Colour and viscosity appraisal.


Despite the fact that the label does not state this is natural colour, my guess is that it is, or at least very near natural colour with only subtle use of E150a caramel colouring. The colour is a pale straw to Chardonnay wine, totally consistent with exclusive maturation in American Ex-Bourbon casks.
I am sure that all Glen Moray’s are chill-filtered to some extent as the whisky remains crystal clear after adding water. It shows if you swirl the liquid around in the glass. The tears (or legs) drop down almost immediately.
The Glen Moray Elgin Classic (NAS). 40% abv, Price: 109 Shekels.


Nosing:
The first thing you appreciate is that there is absolutely no alcohol burn on the nose whatsoever. This will be very appealing and reassuring to those new to drinking spirits. The next thing you notice is a delightful fresh white and yellow fruity sweet aroma and hints of perfume florals like a female body spray or walking through a summer garden. Finally, there is a distinct aroma of freshly cut grass after a down pour.
This will very much appeal to the single malt whisky newbie, especially one who has only drunk Blended whisky before. It will immediately become apparent to anyone that this is something completely different. Gentle yet substantial and distinctive aromas will set this apart from any Blend. I say substantial because underneath all that summer garden florals and fruity sweetness, the Glen Moray has a delightful malty digestive biscuity smell. This shows through in the tasting.


Tasting:
The Glen Moray Elgin Classic tastes fresh and lively with crisp white fruit and tangy, juicy white melon, pears, travel sweets pear-drops and Sauvignon Blanc white wine. There is a very apparent malt digestive biscuit mouth feel. It’s like placing a few slices of honey-dew melon onto a malty biscuit, placing it on the tongue and leaving it there until it melts in the mouth. There are some nice nutty honey flavours from the wood but not much spice there, perhaps due to the fact that this Classic is predominantly made from young whisky, I would guess a vatting of 8 to 10 years.

 
 

Finish is deliciously fruity, soft yellow apples, vanilla biscuits, honey, walnuts and apple travel sweets, leaving a lovely tangy taste in the mouth. Far from satisfying, the whisky is extremely moreish. Added to the fact that this is such a gentle, easy drinking classic Speyside whisky, you will find yourself pouring another glass all too quickly.

The Glen Moray 12-Year-Old. 40% abv, Price: 139 Shekels.


Going from the Elgin Classic to the 12-Year-Old there is no doubt that we are dealing here with the same whisky, just with a bit more maturity.

 

There is a big influence of ripe summer fruits and garden flowers. That hint of female floral perfume spray is not present with the 12-Year-Old, it’s all soft fresh real flowers after a down pour. Another big difference is a good dose of kitchen cooking spices mixed with honey cake and roasted almonds, covered in burnt caramel.


[Photographs: Daniel Gritzer]
Taste:
The 12-Year-Old has a lovely malty barley oily and caramised almonds and walnuts mouth feel to it. Whereas with the Classic, they were white fruits, the 12-Year-Old tastes of yellow fruits like ripe honey-dew melon, yellow apples, peaches, vanilla custard, malty digestive biscuits, toast and cinnamon butter, barley sugar. The 12-Year-Old has all this but with the addition of lemon sherbet, tangy with spicy wood notes and yummy caramalised nuts on the finish.
Despite the fact the 12-Year-Old is also bottled at only 40% abv minimum, I am tempted to add a single drop of water and personally feel that this brings out more fruit and spices, or at least puts it more into focus. If you however choose not to add water, I’d understand.

 

Not surprisingly, the 12-Year-Old is a lot more complex than the Classic but in my opinion, is far more complex than any other single malt in its price range with the possible exception of the Deanston Virgin Oak which to be fair, a very different whisky, having a very dominant rich caramel burnt fudgy wood style. The Glen Moray gives you a much gentler experience, revealing all those classic Speyside floral notes which the Southern Highland Deanston lacks.
The nearest comparison to Glen Moray 12 in terms of Speyside style and price, is probably the Tomintoul 10. The Tomintoul 10, although a competent enough budget malt, tastes watery and thin in comparison to the 12-Year-Old.
Ironically, I’d say that the 12-Year-Old is less “moreish” due to the fact that the finish is more satisfying. Does that make sense?
The nearest comparison to the Glen Moray 12 is the now long discontinued classic Tamnavulin 12-Year-Old. Regarding whiskies on the market today, I’d say it gives the Glenlivet Nadurra NAS and Tomintoul 14 a run for their money but is considerably cheaper!
Conclusions:
I would imagine that this whisky, as well as appealing to the newbie single malt whisky drinker, it will be a big hit with the ladies due to its gentle floral fruity nature. Perhaps this will put some men off?
Its cheap price and packaging might also put some off. Here in Israel, It’s specific Kashrut Certification will certainly put some off. The boring, ubiquitous, budget looking artwork will not exactly catch someone’s attention whilst looking for something new. However, the price tag will!
If one does manage to traverse all these purchasing hurdles and to open the bottle, then you are in for a real treat…..and if your whisky drinking friend or fellow whisky club member sees you drinking Glen Moray and makes a disparaging comment about you or/and the whisky, you just tell them that this Glen Moray is Reb Mordechai recommended.
Some last words…
I feel that Glen Moray are really not using their full potential. They have a beautiful looking “oldy-worldy” distillery. Their product tastes great. It’s just their image as a budget single malt which is letting them down. Why not use their French parent company to their advantage similar to Glenmorangie, to add a touch of je ne sais quoi? Revert to the old romantic artwork label. Release a limited edition craft presentation whisky every year which is natural colour, Non Chill Filtered and bottled at 46% abv, and state it on the label! That I would love to drink.

Comments

  1. Glen Moray makes very descent clean and uncomplicated whisky for a fair price. They are under-appreciated for sure, I hope their new core range and packaging helps change that.

    Great point about a 46% limited edition. I saw some interesting 10yo cask strenght independent bottlings of Glen Moray from the Maltman series, would love to try a Glen Moray at their full potential sometime. Greetings from notify send from the whisky bloke channel.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. Much apreciated mate! I have ordered the Glen Moray 18 from Master of Malts (the only plavce I found it for sale) despite getting really bad reviews. I will please G-d, get it tonight and will hopefully doa review of it within the next month...

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