Glen Moray was our second distillery stop on our first full day in the Speyside. I’d originally planned for us to eat lunch at their cafe, with the possibility of a quick tour. But things didn’t pan out that way.
We started the day at Glen Grant and drove up to Elgin. After a visit to Elgin Cathedral, a large part of the group broke off to do a “Murder Mystery Treasure Trail” (highly recommended if you have small children with you) while a small splinter went off to check out Elgin’s other cathedral, the Gordon & MacPhail store—you’ll never guess which group I was part of. (Gordon & MacPhail was a hugely disappointing experience, as I will report later.) As the Treasure Trail had not been completed by lunch time we decided to eat in Elgin, finish the trail, and then go straight to our primary afternoon destination: Roseisle Beach in Burghead. On the way, we popped into Glen Moray while our friends went grocery shopping for dinner. While the kids used the facilities, I did a quick walk around the shop and distillery grounds, snapping crappy pictures, and then we were off. But there’s no reason why you should not look at those pictures now, is there?
Glen Moray is an altogether smaller distillery than Glen Grant—at least their grounds are much smaller—and there are no attractive gardens here. It’s very much a no-nonsense working distillery with a little visitor centre with cafe added on. It’s also not going to challenge Strathisla for the “most beautiful distillery” title. Nonetheless, it has a very nice atmosphere. The compact structure of the distillery makes it feel intimate as does the fact that casual visitors are not kept away from production buildings. Indeed, the main visitor car park is between the still and tun houses and the mash store. The warehouses are just past the visitor centre and nobody gave me a second glance as I walked a little closer to them to take some pictures. And I very much appreciate how they refrain from ripping off people who want to visit them. Their tour runs one hour and includes two complimentary drams but only costs £5 (under 18s are free). Other distilleries should feel ashamed. If I do make it back to the Speyside again, I would like to tour Glen Moray in earnest.
The visitor centre is small, and was quite crowded (we were there midday on a Saturday), but it felt homey and friendly. As with all distilleries with visitor centres, they sell whisky and branded paraphernalia but there’s nothing very over the top here; it feels like a shop, not a showroom (as some of the fancier visitor centres in the Speyside do). And the display of the distillery’s history is also low-key. There’s a distillery exclusive whisky but no “fill your own” option (not that I saw anyway). This whisky on my visit was a 23-24 year old from the 1994 vintage. Only 600 bottles of a sherry finish at cask strength for £125. That is a very good price compared to what most distilleries are charging. There was an 18 yo as well—though I’m not sure if it is a distillery exclusive—at a lower price but the tasting notes did not entice me. I’m not sure if there’s an opportunity at less busy times to sample any of these whiskies (as I was able to do a few days later at Balblair, Clynelish and Pulteney).
The cafe is a part of the visitor centre and offers various sandwich and toastie options, as well as a soup and quiche of the day. There’s also breakfast for early arrivals. I realized on seeing it that the indoor area would have been too hectic for us with four small children in tow (our friends have kids the same age as ours) but there was a calmer outdoor seating area as well.
Herewith, pictures of it all. Scroll down to see what’s coming next.
Thanks to James for help with identifying the various distillery buildings. I did not do the tour (as noted), and as I was hurrying around I didn’t pay enough attention to remember everything clearly enough a month later. All mistakes are obviously the sole responsibility of James and you should take your complaints up with him.
Up next from the Speyside, the aforementioned disappointing visit to Gordon & MacPhail’s store. Then a roundup of some meals. The next distillery stop will be at Strathisla.