I purchased this Glen Moray from Cadenhead’s Small Batch series at the same time as this Aberfeldy 17 and opened it alongside it. I did not like it as much as that one when first opened and indeed I didn’t really like it much, period, then. I took it to my local group’s July tasting and my opinion was echoed by a number of others. But as so often happens, as the bottle stayed open it began to improve, and by the halfway mark it was a lot fruitier and some of the funkier notes that I hadn’t liked very much at first became more appealing. I took it back to my group’s September tasting earlier this month and my revised opinion was again echoed by the group (who were tasting blind as they always do). Even though it never turned into anything spectacular this is another reminder/lesson to not come to quick conclusions about newly opened bottles (especially those at cask strength). And it’s a reminder as well that the “reliability” of any review you’re reading anywhere is susceptible to uncertainty re the point in the bottle’s life the review comes from (and the reviewer may not even know when it comes to samples): in other words, please don’t take my notes or scores too seriously.
Glen Moray 16, 1998 (55.5%; Cadenhead’s Small Batch; hogsheads; from my own bottle)
Nose: Malty, biscuity and almondy at first sniff; then it gets tart with lemon and lemon rind and a bit of gooseberry or is that cider? Somewhat chalky and gingery too and a touch of plastic. Hints of richer fruit below but it seems a little closed. Gets more peppery as it sits and the lemon turns to citronella with faint whiffs of kerosene. With water there’s a note of wax crayons at first along with some ozone and then concentrated lime and malt.
Palate: Tart to start and then there’s a big, sweet wave that includes wet stones, wet cloth and I want to say paper (like licking an old envelope). On the second sip there’s something medicinal (though not in the phenolic/Islay sense)—more like uncoated tablets from my childhood and the glass bottle they came in and its rubber gasket (my apologies to those who have no idea what I’m talking about but it’s the thing that comes to mind); there’s some plastic here too and it gets more and more peppery with each sip. With more time it gets sweeter and muskier/maltier. With water it gets more peppery still and those notes of rubber and plastic get a little more pronounced too.
Finish: Long. Pretty much as on the palate but less intense. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This is reminiscent in some ways of some lightly peated 1970s malts that I’ve had. It’s no cookie cutter whisky, that’s for sure, and quite far away from the few official Glen Morays I’ve had. Still, while I liked the nose quite a bit (especially neat), I’d say most people will probably find it more interesting than enjoyable in some ways, though it’s not finally unenjoyable in any way.
Rating: 82 points.