Two Glen Morays, One Islay Rum but No Partridge in a Pear Tree

Hello everyone

Catching up this time on samples that have been waiting for a few weeks in the tasting queue and my cold is now gone. One is the latest rum from Islay Rum and which I picked up while over there for the Islay Whisky Festival at the end of May. I dropped in to the distillery to see how things were going and came out with this sample, courtesy of distiller, Ben Inglis. The other two are the two latest additions to the Glen Moray Warehouse 1 offerings. I‘m always keen to taste what they bottle so am glad to have my sensory faculties back to try them.

Let‘s start with Glen Moray Rioja Matured, distilled in March 2015 and bottled in August 2023. I wonder why the delay from bottling to release. This one is bottled at 59.8% abv and, as mentioned above, is another in their very interesting experiments with various wood types. I find their wood choices largely very well judged, just like another, unrelated distillery some way up the road from them.

Appearance: Glowing amber with orange marmalade highlights. Tears are very slow to form and sticky; medium distance apart. This one went cloudy and the colour of oxidised apple juice when water was added.

Nose: Oak, as you‘d expect from a rioja cask. Spiced wine, a tiny touch of varnish; tropical fruits and soft caramel; banana skins; earthy; dark honey. Maybe a little dab of sulphur. With water, it goes a little flat at first then the soft toffee notes return with some leather. Baked apples and honey; sweet, soft spices and gentle oak. Cooked banana. From the bottle I got notes of jasmine and night stock.

Palate: Quite mouth-drying; medium mouthfeel;oak and some tannins; wood sugars; peppery. A bit less fruit on the palate.

Finish: Medium length; peppery and quite dry with residual oak.

Now we move on to Glen Moray Peated Rioja Finish at 58.8% abv, distilled in March 2012, initially matured in ex-bourbon casks before the rioja exposure and bottled in August 2023, so another one which waited for release. Note finished, not fully matured in rioja casks this time. For me, Glen Moray isn‘t about peat even though they produce an occasional peated expression so I wasn‘t sure about this one before I tried it.

Appearance: Light amber with pale pink and orange copper highlights. Again , slow, sticky tears quite close together at first then more widely spaced.

Nose: Fairly gentle peat smoke; a hint of ginger and warm spices. Then the peat smoke begins to come a little more forward, deeper and darker. Honey and oak. Not as fruity on the nose as the Rioja Cask Matured. Slightly overcooked orange marmalade. Vanilla and also leather and tobacco leaf. With water, softer smoke but more honey, oak and ginger. A little bit of waxiness. Fudge. It feels fresher, yet richer on the nose than Rioja Matured. From the sample bottle there wasn‘t so much smoke, more oak and baked fruit.

Palate: Medium mouthfeel; smoky and astringent; spicy – ginger and black pepper plus some chilli heat. Char and tar; liquorice.

Finish: Quite long with smoke, char and wood tannins. Dry.

Well, definitely glad I tried it as I think I got more out of the peated Rioja finish than the Rioja fully matured. I would expect the extra aging has something to do with it as it has another three years over the Rioja Cask Matured. The only other difference is the 1% less in cask strength and I‘m not counting that as significant. Note also the rather subtle blue tones used on each label and make sure you’re picking up the one you want – if not buying both, that is.

Both of these whiskies will be available in limited quantities in the UK, France, U.S, Netherlands, Japan, Sweden and at the Glen Moray Distillery. Expect to find them at around £85 for the Rioja Matured at UK prices and from £92 – £104 for the Peated Rioja Finish.

Lastly for this piece, the Islay Rum mentioned at the top – Islay Rum Barrel Aged. Now, I‘m not usually a rum drinker but like to support this lovely little distillery, an offshoot of the family-owned Vintage Malt Whisky Company. This one is at 46% and aged in casks which formerly held peated whisky.

Appearance: Sunshine gold with ripe, white Burgundy highlights. Tears quite sticky and close.

Nose: Soft toffee; warming spices and sharp at first. A hint of rubber; cooked apple juice. With water, more of the spirit notes come through. Green apples and cooked sugar beet leaves, even if not a beet base. Waxy with a dab of lemon zest. The smokiness is fairly light.

Palate: Medium palate with a slightly oily mouthfeel.Some tannins and slight spice. Green leafiness and rear sweetness. Spiritous with a little of the note that you get from varnish if it catches in the throat. Plant sugars and a touch of salt. There is some smoke but you have to wait a little if you dilute the strength. It‘s more obvious if tried neat.

Finish: Medium length with definite smoky overtones.

An interesting one for those of you who are cocktail barmen as it will bring a new flavour dimension to your creations. Give it a whirl to offer your customers something new. Price is around £49 per bottle at UK prices.

Well that‘s all from me this time. I have some House of Hazelwood and more Glen Moray samples coming so hope to get some of those into the mid-July column. Meantime, happy dramming whether it‘s summer or winter where you are.

Slainte mhath,



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