Okay, time to head north. Let’s go all the way up to the Speyside, to Glen Moray. I still regret not finding the time to tour Glen Moray when I visited in 2018—hopefully, I’ll get the chance again someday. However, since then I have got to enjoy a few Glen Morays, including a 23 yo, distilled in 1994 that was part of K&L’s exclusive haul last year. Today’s Glen Moray is a year older and distilled a year later. Where the K&L cask was a refill barrel this one is from a first-fill toasted hogshead and I suspect that difference will mean more than the closeness in age and vintage. Hopefully, it won’t mean overbearing oak. I’ve been reviewing a lot of SMWS casks of late courtesy a bunch of bottle splits. Every time I hit a run of strong casks I begin to think that maybe I should join the SMWS after all these years despite their high prices. There isn’t a lot of interesting indie whisky around these days at reasonable prices after all. But then I invariably run into a cask that makes me iffy again. Where will this one fall? Let’s see how it works out.
Glen Moray 24, 1994 (53.5%; SMWS 35.244; first-fill toasted hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: Polished oak with a bit of plum. The oak seems to expand with every sniff (this does not bode well for the palate). After a few minutes it begins to open up with a mix of floral sweetness and savoury herbs (oregano, sage). This is a bit of a wild ride, for sure. The oak is still the top note but with a few more minutes still of airing softer notes of vanilla begin to emerge as does some cherrywood. Quite bourbon-like now in many ways. After about 15 minutes the nose is quite nice: mellow oak, cream, plum sauce, flowers. With a lot more time—more than an hour—the plum finally tops the oak and the citrus from the finish emerges here as well. A squirt of water pushes the oak back further and brings out a lot more of the florals and the citrus (more citronella than lemon now).
Palate: Not as oaky as feared, which is not to say it’s not oaky (not tannic though). A big indistinct sweetness after that. Tastes hotter than the abv would indicate, no doubt due to the effect of the oaky bite. Time and air mellow the oak here as well but don’t make it very much more interesting on the whole. Okay, let’s see if water can do more for it. Well, yes, it pushes the oak back and pulls out the citrus here as well; some roasted malt too now and maybe some ginger biscuits/cookies.
Finish: Long. It’s the oak that keeps going, getting more peppery as it goes. Some citrus emerges with time (lemon). As on the nose and palate with water as regards the oak; the citrus expands and the pepper expands with it.
Comments: Was this finished in a first-fill toasted hogshead? This is pretty oak-driven as is but I’d imagine it would be even more so if full-term matured in a first-fill toasted hogshead. Neat, it’s drinkable enough but it’s not interesting. Water improves matters considerably all around. I’m not sure though that it all adds up to a strong advertisement for joining the SMWS. Wish I’d found everything they put down in their notes.
Rating: 84 points (pulled up by water).