Friday, October 30, 2015

that's a moray

Wait a minute - do you realise that it's over a year since the last whisky post? I'm not going to bang on about having two kids to feed and all that, as I've moaned about that in at least three previous posts, so enough, already. But nonetheless it's fair to say the halls of Halibut Towers haven't been flowing with endless streams of whisk(e)y over the intervening twelve months.

I have been able to rustle up the occasional few shekels for a dram or two, though, and this is probably a good moment to log a couple of items that were new to me.

So here's a half-bottle of Glenlivet (or "The Glenlivet" to give it it's official title) which I think I was bought for me either last Christmas or for my birthday in February. We have featured a Glenlivet before, here, but that was a very sherry-rich version not typical of the regular official bottlings. According to Wikipedia it's the biggest-selling Scotch whisky in the USA, and I would hazard a guess that the bulk of that is in the form of the standard 12-year-old, which is what I've got here.

As with the Glenfiddich, you'd expect very little to frighten the horses here, and sure enough it's very inviting. It smells very sweet, with just enough of a hint of cork and leather to keep you interested. You get the same when you taste it, with just a hint of something a bit fresher and zingier, like maybe Listerine. It's very quaffable, but the big pudding-y sherry monster version I had before is probably more interesting.

The other bottle is a standard-size Glen Moray I picked up in Tesco for £20 a couple of months back. Like Glenlivet, Glen Moray is a Speysider, but somewhat less celebrated, and often to be found at the bargain end of the supermarket ranges. But we're not at home to whisky label snobbery here, so I thought I'd give it a go. As it happens this isn't the standard no-age-statement version, but a 10-year-old that's been matured in casks that previously held Chardonnay wine. We've had a red-wine-cask Bruichladdich and a port-pipe-matured Glenmorangie here before, but I think white wine is a first. I also have to say I don't particularly like Chardonnay to drink (indeed I'm not big on white wine generally), so I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

While it was obvious that something non-standard had been done to the Bruichladdich and the Glenmorangie, both by look and taste, I'm not sure I'd have known anything out of the ordinary was going on here if I hadn't read the label. It's the usual Rice Krispies and custard creams and bananas that you get with bourbon-cask-matured whisky, although there is a hint of magic marker in there as well, something you'd ordinarily associate with younger, rawer whisky like Penderyn. Maybe that's a bit of sharpness from the Chardonnay coming through.

They're quite similar, these two, as befits classic examples of the Speyside style, nothing to ruffle the feathers too much. As I've said before, my preference is for something slightly more rugged and outdoorsy, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with either of these. If I had to express a preference I'd probably go with the Glen Moray, as it's just a bit darker, richer and more interesting. I'm still not drinking any Chardonnay, though.

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