Latest update: November 26th 2016
GLEN MORAY DISTILLERY PICTURES
Through the years I developed a soft spot for Glen Moray. It isn’t the most beautiful distillery, it may not be the best whisky, but it has a history in the last few years. Besides that there is Iain Allan, the manager of the visitor centre. Through the years we’ve been in contact and the thing I will always remember was telling him in 2008 that things could only get better. A talk during my visit at the distillery as things weren’t looking that bright for Glen Moray. History proved me right, La Martiniquaise bought the distillery from Glenmorangie, and since then they have been looking in how to develop the distillery. Visiting this year showed the signs of this, a new part of the distillery with 3 new stills being tested by the staff. La Martiniquaise came through and the distillery is growing.
The thing that still is the same is the visitor centre, one of the things that was realised in the early days when Iain started his job was to add a restaurant in the visitor centre, and after all these years this is steal a great feature for the distillery. Good food and drinks, all served by a nice staff that manages the restaurant and visitor centre. As sad it may not be the best whisky, but the entourage of restaurant, staff and of course the nice distillery are very worthwhile to pay a visit. I will surely head back there when I am close to Elgin.
Back at Glen Moray distillery, after two years. How much can change in two years, gets clear quite soon. In 2008, when I visited, the distillery was put up for sale by their owner LVMH. During my visit then the people at the distillery where worried about their future, and my remark that it only could get better was something that they were not too sure off.
Shortly after my visit the distillery was sold to La Martiniquaise a company that with regards to whisky was known for their Label 5 and Glen Turner whiskies. Currently the sourcing of whiskies for these products is also done from the Glen Moray distillery, and they are even talking about adding 2 stills. So the distillery looks at a bright future.
Glen Moray started distilling in 1897. The former West Brewery was converted into a 2 still distillery. The distillery operated until 1910. In 1912 they re-opened briefly, and then went silent until 1920. In 1920 Macdonald & Muir, already participating in Glenmorangie distillery, bought Glen Moray. Production re-started in 1923 and basically ran until 1958, when it was rebuilt. The floor maltings were replaced with Saladin boxes, which were in use until 1978. In 1979 the number of stills was doubled. In 1996 Macdonald & Muir, was renamed Glenmorangie plc. Glenmorangie plc in turn was sold in 2004 to Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessey (LVMH). This led as already mentioned to the sale of the distillery by LVMH in 2008 to La Martiniquaise.
When you arrive at the distillery the former maltings still are the first thing that catch your eye. Manager Graham Coull gave a great tour and gave us a taste of some of their whiskies. This tour was made as part of the Autumn Spirit of Speyside Festival.
I am returning after two years to visit Glen Moray again. Sadly enough the occasion isn’t that positive. Glen Moray is for sale, LVMH, the owners of the distillery, want to put their attention to their core business, Glenmorangie and Ardbeg. Glen Moray has never got that much attention, but now the decision is made that the distillery will be sold.
When I arrive at the distillery, it is business as usual; there are a lot of visitors. The visitor centre is buzzing with people. The coffee shop is crowded and I notice a new feature. You can now bottle your own bottle of Glen Moray. Further there is not too much new, although there is a Single Sherry Cask bottling, that is selected by manager Graham Coull. This is certainly a very good bottling.
Going through the distillery there is nothing new, but the tour given by one of the production people is very pleasant and even more interesting as you don’t see still men giving a tour that often. When we go into the warehouse there are now 3 casks with look through fronts. One of them was in place already 2 years ago, but now there are two with the complete lid replaced, so you can see the colouring of the spirit. It took some time to be able to do this, as there is a lot of pressure on the casks and the lids used to break during earlier attempts. But now they mastered it.
Another great feature during the trip was that when we got to the warehouse, we got a taste of a cask sample of a 10- and an 18-year-old Glen Moray. This of course is something that does very well with visitors.
After I have been round the distillery and seen the visitor centre and the enthusiasm of the people from the distillery, I can’t imagine that there won’t be anyone who is interested in buying this distillery. The distillery makes a very nice whisky and I am sure that there still can be done a lot more with this distillery, but that is up to the new owner. The staff at the distillery won’t be a problem their good enough to get the distillery ahead.
Oh yeah, the first look of the distillery still isn’t that good the huge building were the Saladin maltings used to be, still looks awful, but that is also the only thing that can put you off in this distillery.
GLEN MORAY DISTILLERY VISIT 2006
Making your way to Glen Moray is an experience on its own. You are passing some quite expensive houses as you are passing the “expensive” neighbourhood of Elgin. The least that you expect is a huge black wall that looks terrible. As the first impression is often very important you do expect not too much after seeing this, however the rest of the distillery is rather clean and exceptionally good looking.
The large black building that you see towering over the distillery is the former maltings. As Glen Moray used Saladin boxes for their malting they needed a rather large building. This now, even though the malting has moved from Glen Moray, still towers over the whole operation of Glen Moray.
Talking to Ian Allen, the manager of the visitor centre, it is clear that they are not to happy with this view either. First impressions do a lot, but it is difficult to do something about this. Another hot item for the Glen Moray people is the piece that the mystery visitor wrote about the distillery (shown under Glen Moray Distillery). One thing is sure, they hit back, even if not in a public way as Whisky Magazine’s mystery guest did, but by putting up a nice visitor centre. If ever there was any problem with the Glen Moray distillery’s visitor centre they surely did everything to prevent this from happening again. One of the sign for this is the fact that they are putting wood around all the wash backs, not to achieve the fact that they are wooden wash back, but to make sure that the distillery looks at its best. A quite inventive item in the warehouse is a cask with a looking glass. This allows you to see how the spirit develops and see the evaporation in the future. Glen Moray is certainly worth a visit.
One of the key themes is the fact that Glen Moray decided to let go if their “wine finishes”. It seems that next to me, there were quite a lot of people that were not to happy with these bottlings and Glen Moray is back to its own great spirit. If you have any doubt about this, in the U.K. Glen Moray is in the top 5 of best selling malts. The big task for Glen Moray is now to make their way into the rest of the world, a big task, but with a whisky like Glen Moray there is hope. If ever something shows this it may be the first distillery manager’s bottling, that the new manager Graham Coull made, under the name the “Fifth Chapter” (he is the 5th manager of Glen Moray) he had a whisky bottled that promises a lot for the future of this distillery.
GLEN MORAY DISTILLERY
Elgin IV30 1YE