Glen Moray Distillery: Speyside’s cask explorer

Glen Moray Distillery: Speyside’s cask explorer

Elgin single malt distiller Glen Moray has marked its 125th anniversary with new packaging for its Explorer Range and a limited distillery exclusive.

Whisky Focus | 01 Dec 2023 | By Partnered Promotion

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This promotional feature was created by the Whisky Magazine team in partnership with Glen Moray

After 125 years at the heart of the Speyside community it calls home, Elgin’s Glen Moray Distillery has unveiled a modern evolution of its packaging and a special limited release, Elgin Edition 10 Years Old, to mark the latest chapter in the brand’s journey in cask exploration.


While the updated packaging remains predominately in the distillery’s classic dark-blue hue, a bold and angular splash of colour has been emphasised to help consumers easily navigate the wide variety of taste profiles offered by the Explorer Range. With six bottles in the collection, the distillery offers a dram for every palate, with a variety of wine-cask finishes that stem from its long history of exploring ‘secondary maturation’, demonstrating how the spirit can evolve from the baseline represented by the bourbon cask-finished Our Classic and peated Smoky Classic expressions.

Glen Moray Our Classic is the pure expression of the distillery’s fruity Speyside style, aged solely in ex-bourbon casks.

Prominently displayed in the new packaging, the distillery’s coat of arms combines four elements, each pointing to a key influence on the brand’s development. A barley sheaf and casks represent the intrinsic tools of the distillers’ trade, a beehive represents the new-make spirit’s inherently sweet character, and a ship reflects the Moray region’s maritime history. Together, the crest’s design gives a nod to the elements that combine to create Glen Moray’s much-loved whisky. 


The distillery’s position on the edge of Elgin means it has a place in the heart of the community that has grown up around it. Global brand ambassador Iain Allan is keen to point out the often-unheralded activities the brand supports locally. Whether that is offering placements to local hospitality students or simply a coffee shop that is frequently full of local residents, the symbiotic link between a distillery that’s proud of its town and a town proud of its internationally renowned distillery is a powerful factor in the decision to represent iconic Elgin landmarks on Glen Moray’s most recent distillery-exclusive release.

Glen Moray Elgin Edition 10 Years Old.

The Elgin Limited Edition 10 Years Old puts the heartland of Glen Moray at the centre of the bottle with a striking design inspired by its hometown – chosen by the distillery’s community of social media fans. This whisky, which champions Speyside’s capital town and Glen Moray’s home, has been finished in Chardonnay casks and bottled non-chill filtered, with no added colour.


Similarly, cask influence is given the spotlight in the presentation of the new Explorer Range. Having been among the first distilleries to experiment with secondary maturation, back before the term was an industry standard, the reference to ‘Double Cask’ gives prominence to the wines that have imparted so much to the story of Glen Moray. As Allan explains, “Back in the 1990s we were making a Chardonnay-finished whisky that we were calling ‘wine mellowed’ because the term ‘finishing’ hadn’t even been coined.”

Glen Moray global brand ambassador Iain Allan.

Having had a head start over many of their local rivals, the cask explorers of Glen Moray did not rest on their laurels, with wine casks being regularly filled with the distillery’s sweet new-make spirit. The distillery’s acquisition by French owner La Martiniquaise in 2008 opened the warehouse doors even wider to a range of Spanish sherry and French wine casks that would be the envy of any whisky maker, but it was access to the port casks of sister brand Porto Cruz that has been heralded as one of the major benefits of the purchase, particularly as the combination of Glen Moray and port wine had been revered since the 1990s.


The current Explorer Range recognises the best of these combinations, with the Sherry Cask Finish for spice and vanilla sweetness, the Cabernet Cask Finish for dark chocolate, the Chardonnay Cask Finish for tropical fruit, the Port Cask Finish for red fruit flavours. The Explorer Range offers a wine finish for every palate and familiar flavours for those with a pre-existing taste for wine.

Glen Moray Double Cask Chardonnay Cask Finish.

Away from wine casks, the bourbon cask-finished Our Classic offers a touch of citrus, while the lightly peated Smoky Classic delivers a camp-fire aroma, allowing the brand to offer a bottle for anyone, regardless of their level of experience with whisky. With the tasting notes given front-of-pack prominence on the new range, the approachability of what could otherwise be seen as a dazzling array of finishes is maintained.


Stephen Woodcock, the brand’s head of whisky creation, can be sure that he is getting the most out of a wonderful cask inventory, one he has been quick to make his mark on since joining the brand in 2022. It is the essential character of the new-make spirit flowing from the Elgin stills for 125 years that allows Woodcock and the distillery team to explore such diversity in maturation styles.

Glen Moray Double Cask Port Cask Finish.

With a viscous, sweet distillate, Woodcock has the flexibility to fully explore a world of possibilities through Glen Moray’s cask programme. Placing the new-make spirit in a traditional ex-bourbon cask is not a problem – its honeyed character will shine through, as evidenced by the Our Classic expression – but it also has sufficient robustness to stand up to the strong flavours of more powerful casks sourced from the wineries of the Old World, as seen in the Explorer Range.


It is this robustness that is prized by connoisseurs and has been praised in recent reviews as well, with recent special releases in the rotating Warehouse 1 range picking up the top honour of ‘Editor’s Choice’ in Whisky Magazine Issue 178 for the “heavenly” Tokaji Finish and Issue 189 for the “delightfully dark” Oloroso Fully Matured. New Warehouse 1 releases are coming soon, and awards seem set to follow for the whole range, with a number of Glen Moray expressions reaching the latter stages of 2023’s whisky competitions.

Glen Moray master distiller Stephen Woodcock.

Glen Moray’s wide range of top-quality single malts appeals to newcomers and enthusiasts alike, as the Explorer Range can lead whisky lovers to the Heritage Range, which includes 12-, 15-, 18-, and 21-year-old expressions; the experimental Curiosity Range, featuring the likes of rye and rhum agricole cask finishes; and unique limited releases, such as those bottled under the Warehouse 1 and  Distillery Editions labels. With 125 years of cask exploration behind it, a firm following in the UK, and a growing number of fans in Europe, the USA, Asia, and Australia, the future for Glen Moray appears as bright as its new packaging and as captivating as its spirit. 

Glen Moray Double Cask Sherry Cask Finish.
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