Scotland may not have been the ones who invented whiskey, but they did well to adopt it and make it their own. How whiskey made it from the Emerald Isle to Scotland, perhaps only a well skilled historian could tell us. But however it made it there, it would be more than an educated guess that it made it there by boat. Scotland so too, has a strong connection to the sea. The Scottish coastline is pounded by the harsh, rich seas. Rough seas, that granted, are too the result of the bracing arctic winds that race south across the far northern hemisphere that bring nourishing breezes and rain to the many plots of barley that breed and grow the very malt that we drink. The seas, churned up by these violent winds are the habitat of the plethora of life that indwell the Scottish seas. The quarry of the brave and weathered fisherman of the United Kingdom. The seas of which, have been the source of the harvest of food for the Scots since thousands of years before the birth of Christ. Back in the ages of the ancient Scottish whom would plunder the seas with primitive fishing traps and snares. By the much later medieval days, much of the fruits of these seas, herring and salmon, were exported to continental Europe. With the introduction of rail transport, the Scottish fishmonger was afforded the rapid export of tons of cured herring to the continent. It was in this time, that the herring came to be known as the delicacy it’s promoted as today. In the height of the Herring Boom in nineteen-oh-seven, two and a half million barrels of herring were cured and exported to markets such as Germany, Russia and many other peasantry eastern European countries. A trade that was, as expected, halted in progression by the arrival of the first World War when many able-bodied Scots enlisted to fight the Kaiser, the like of fishermen would assuredly come to serve in the Royal Navy. A conflict that so negatively affected the industry, that by the time of the second World War, the industry practically grinded to a halt. In this day, the Scottish seas are a visited by thousands of aspiring anglers yearly from near and far to brave the brutal weather and the frosty winds in pursuit of triumph and trophy. And taste the flaky white flesh of herring. Here in Queensland, we of course, cook our native barramundi, whiting and snapper in breadcrumbs or beer batter. The Scots press coarse oatmeal into their herring and fry them oil, and serve them with lemon, something the Scots of the earlier days didn’t have the luxury of. Something that as a fellow outdoorsman, I relish the thought of. And the first drink recommended by waiters and cooks to go with a nice piece of fish, is white wine. I myself, always prefer my old reliable, Irish whiskey and water in a tall glass with plenty of ice for a nice piece of fish. But your average diner wouldn’t go so far for the sake of whiskey. But if ever there were a whisky for fish, I think I’ve found it…
G’day guys. We’re here today keeping the ball rolling with Scotch, with a whisky that ticks a lot of boxes. Not only, a well overdue single malt, but this site’s second whisky from the area of Speyside, after this site’s article of Glenfiddich. Another reputable whisky-producing area of Scotland, that the label says is the “whisky capital of Scotland”. From the label Glen Moray, one I’ve seen a plentiful range of on the shelves. Glen Moray, it seems, takes pride in selling their malts in a range of different methods of oaking and finishes. All primarily aged in Kentucky Straight Bourbon barrels, you have your choice of their port cask finished whisky, their portwood finished whisky, their sherry cask, and this, their Chardonnay finished whisky. That crisp, light fruity wine that in restaurants, as well as Sauvignon Blanc respectively, goes hand-in-hand with a well served fillet of fish. The label, named after the distillery from which it is born. Originally known as the Elgin West distillery that opened in the year eighteen-thirty. How and why it came to be known by the name it goes by today, as of eighteen-ninety-seven, the stories splinter a dozen different ways, through either swapping of hands, abandonment of owners, all sources seem to confuse and entangle with others. But eventually anyone who attempts to answer the question will lose interest and conclude that it was named that by however was then in charge, original or non. Legend has it that “surviving hand-written ledgers” trace the first spirits run made of Glen Moray on the day of the thirteenth of September, eighteen-ninety-seven. It was then, when they began experimenting with aging the malt in different barrels, perhaps inventing the practice of aging whiskies in different sorts of barrels. In nineteen-fifty-eight the distillery took in two new copper stills, and furthered the advancement of their plant by switching from using coal to oil to boil the stills. And then in ninety-ninety-nine, their master distiller Edwin Dodson reintroduced the practice of finishing the whisky in preowned casks as the label did in the beginning.
The Chardonnay finished barrel bottle, only distinguished so by the writing so on the label, indifferent from all other twelve year old single malts in their range. The Scotch, arriving boxed in a simple cardboard box. A practice implemented by many Scotch labels to impress buyers, most notably by the more well-known labels as Chivas Regal and Glenfiddich. Glenfiddich, although comes boxed in a robust and neatly appointed tin box. Glen Moray, like Chivas Regal, is simply cardboard. Something more reusable or recyclable than occasional. The bottle is similar in appearance to the bottles of Buffalo Trace and The Dubliner. A bulb in the neck, and an elegant curve outwards. Discernible only by the embossed logo of Glen Moray. The label, navy blue in colour and a matte gold trim. The closure, not just a cork, but one branded with the seal of the Glen Moray distillery. The nose, unsurprisingly however. No attention-grabbing reminiscence of Chardonnay, but a sweet, spicy pungence of Scotch. The raspy, boisterous smell of single malt, a dash of earthy peat within. Over ice, the nose expectedly becomes light and refreshing. There’s fewer things more refreshing on a hot day than a Scotch on ice. Herbal notes and discreetly so, but also fresh ripe fruit, I’d almost go as far as saying a hot minced pie, not unlike Meukow, as well as hot caramel. So to taste. The first taste takes me by surprise, tastes of sweet shortcrust pastry, and fruity flavors. The tastes imparted upon the single malt, by the chardonnay casks, result in tastes sweet and light of the crust and filling of fruit pie. Surprisingly, canceling out any tastes of peat that the palette is conscious of, assuming they are present.
In summary: Whether or not this whisky pairs well with seafood, or so to compete with Irish whiskey or a white wine, remains to be said. I, for one, could easily imagine that this would have to go well with a crumbed or battered fish fillet. What I would know, that this whisky would definitely pair well with is your dessert pastries. Your apple pies, your blueberry danishes. But what should be evident by this point, is that this is whisky, by product of the sum of it’s parts, is a very unusual and characterful whisky I would easily recommend to others.