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I’ve never reviewed a beer before but I’ve often thought about it. Not long after I set up WhiskyReviews.net I acquired the BeerReviews.net domain as well, with the intention of branching out. For one reason or another it hasn’t quite happened, only so many hours in the day I suppose and in any case I rather relish the opportunity to sit back and enjoy a beer, without having to be overly analytical about it. I don’t even know that much about it, which is quite deliberate. I tend to obsessively fact-collect on subjects that interest me and I’m not sure I have the room for another obsession at the minute so I have thus far held back. Stumbling upon this partnership between the Windswept Brewing Co. and Glen Moray Distillery proved too tempting however, so here it is, my first official beer review…
The Windswept Brewing Co was named after the breezy beaches of Lossiemouth on the Moray coast in the Northeast of Scotland. The Brewery was founded by Al Read and Nigel Tiddy, former RAF pilots who apparently enjoy nothing more than finishing a day spent in the great outdoors with a pint of good beer.
Inspired by those experiences they created the Windswept Brewing Co in 2012, taking delivery of brewing vessels from Oban Ales in Fort William. By November of that year they had produced their first beer. Though originally intended to be a blonde, the efficiency of the equipment caught them off-guard and the resultant beer became their APA – Accidental Pale Ale.
2013 saw the Windswept Brewing Company launched to the world. That same year they produced their first ever barrel aged beer “The Wolf of Glen Moray”, so named because the oak casks came from the Glen Moray distillery five miles away in Elgin. Appropriately, Glen Moray itself began life as the Elgin West Brewery, but was converted to a distillery in 1897. Once owned by Glenmorangie plc it is now operated by French distilling firm La Martiniquaise.
Windswept meanwhile expanded in 2014 and entered the export market with shipments to Andorra, Germany and Belgium. By 2016 demand was such that they had to expand again, reaching a production capacity of some 15,000 pints of beer per week. Their brewery Tap Room has become immensely popular, thanks in no small part to the frequent tours and events held onsite, not to mention a visit from TV chef James Martin during the filming of his Great British Adventure. Such activities have of course been curtailed thanks to the coronavirus pandemic but I managed to pick up a bottle of their product whilst browsing the website of the Good Spirits Co.
The Wolf of Glen Moray is matured in freshly emptied “second fill” casks that were previously used to create the “Elgin Classic” single malt. Unusually, each bottle is numbered and comes in an attractive gift tube.
Smell: Wonderful burst of yeasty beer fills the nostrils as the cap comes off. Just like the scent of a frothing washback on a distillery tour (remember them?). Toasted malt, chocolate, liquorice and just a wee hint of that Speyside whisky.
Taste: Pleasantly effervescent on the palate. Malty at first. Lots of caramel and dark chocolate. Figs. Some berry notes even. A touch of whisky and wood on the finish.
Thoughts: A 330ml bottle at £6 is hardly cheap but 9.2% alcohol by volume at least partially justifies that. The gift tube is a nice touch but perhaps a little excessive for a bottle emptied at a single visit.
I’m not an expert in anything, but especially not in beer. As I mentioned earlier there’s an element of purpose about that because I spend an awful lot of time thinking about whisky and it’s nice to be able to relax and sip on a beer without overthinking the situation. Having said that, there’s so many interesting and exciting beers out there that it feels like I could be missing out by not giving them a little more consideration. As a fan of Glen Moray this wee Windswept number seemed the perfect place to dip my toe and I’m glad I did. Delicious to my palate, with good depth of flavour and just enough of the whisky to make its presence felt. Thoroughly enjoyable.
I believe there’s also a Port Cask version of this beer, and since I love that Glen Moray whisky and currently have a bottle in the cabinet, I’m going to have to track it down.
Thanks as always for reading my reviews, do let me know if you’d like me to cover some more beers!
For more on Windswept Brewing Co, click here
For more on Glen Moray, click here