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The Distillery on Gallow Hill
Glen Moray began life as the West Brewery on the edge of the Royal burgh of Elgin in 1830. The land upon which it was built was once the site of the local Gallows, a structure that had been carefully positioned along the main road into the town in order that new arrivals would be forewarned of the consequences of any misdemeanours. Any who failed to heed the warning were met with a grim fate tailored to the nature of their crime. Some were hanged, some drowned and some even burned alive, their remains left on display until they literally fell apart.
During the 1960s, workers at the distillery were digging earth on Gallow Crook Hill in order to raise the level of Warehouse No. 1 as it had often been prone to flooding. During the excavations seven human skulls were uncovered, one of which was found to have a hole behind the ear and a musket ball lodged in the jaw. Evidence perhaps, of a botched execution that had to be quickly resolved.
This severe system of capital punishment had been eradicated by the time the brewery was founded in 1830 and by 1897, owners Robert Thorne & Sons decided that a distillery would better serve their purpose and the site was converted. Within a few short years however, Glen Moray had slipped down the company’s pecking order with much of their focus set on sister distillery Aberlour. When that premises was seriously damaged in a fire, Glen Moray was completely abandoned so that every effort could be made to revive the owner’s primary concern.
Glen Moray lay dormant until 1910, when Macdonald & Muir of Glenmorangie acquired it in an almost derelict state. The distillery was brought back to life and by the 1950s, Saladin boxes had replaced the malting floor, allowing the site to double its output. Despite such investment however, Glen Moray failed to really flourish under the stewardship of what had become Glenmorangie plc. Single malt bottlings were available as early as 1976 but the brand wasn’t promoted in any meaningful way until the 1990s.
When Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy bought Glenmorangie in 2004, it was made quite clear that Glen Moray wasn’t part of the plan. They sold the distillery and its stocks to La Martiniquaise in 2008 who set about creating an accessible yet creative range of single malts that would launch in 2014 with the affordable ‘Elgin Classic’ series at the forefront.
The Glen Moray single malt has since earned something of a reputation as a budget brand. Rather than this being worthy of criticism however, I personally see it as something to be praised – how many other distilleries offer five or six single malts priced under £30? With most you’re lucky to find one such expression!
The Elgin Classic Port Cask Finish is bottled at 40% and retails at around £27 a bottle…
Full Disclosure: I was sent this bottle by a marketing team in the employ of Glen Moray. As always though, I will strive to remain impartial and give an honest opinion on the product.
Smell: Port influence is surprisingly prominent. Red apples, strawberry & raspberry. Orange. Caramel & toffee. Cinnamon. Oak.
Taste: Berries and juicy fruits. Apple juice. Toffee. Caramel. Winter spices and a pleasant dry, woody finish. Surprisingly good texture for a malt at 40%.
Thoughts: The Elgin Classic range is astonishingly good value and this Port Cask Finish is the best that I have yet come across.
It’s an absolutely fantastic dram for the price. Had I tasted this blind, I fear there is no chance I would have guessed its price range. The port finish has given a surprisingly powerful influence to the spirit and the intensity of its flavour goes above many other 40% drams. A word of warning though, remember this stuff is still whisky! It’s so delicious and drinkable that one could easily get carried away. Remember to drink responsibly! Outstandingly good value.
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