I’ve said for a long time ‘Gin is my first love, whisky is my second’.
Admittedly it’s then closely followed by all other forms of alcohol (except cider as early drinking memories make it really difficult for me to drink it, let alone like it).
As a kid I always associated whisky with the gifts given to my dad from people at the office at Christmas. Most of the time these involved a bottle of Bells Whisky. Unsurprisingly, it was the first whisky I ever tried, and the first drink to force in me a look of horror. I did not like it, I still do not like it. There was always something about it that reminded me (apologies if you’ve never smoked) of Benson and Hedges. A smooth creaminess in the roof of my mouth that always made me feel a bit nauseated.
I’m also pretty sure it’s the brand my sister drank when… Yeah, let’s not go into that one.
Fast forward to my early thirties and still the thought of whisky would have me pull a face. I associated it with those first tasting memories, but eventually, being an adventurous sort, I went to a whisky festival with Mr GFB.
And had my eyes opened. Wide.
37 whiskies were sampled that day (by me, no honestly, we all shared sips, and had a break halfway for a coffee). It’s still my record (wines is 45, thank you Three Wine Men).
Now I’m a whisky adventurer. I don’t know it as well as I know gin, but I’m always learning, always trying new ones, and learning the ones that I like and enjoy. And, as it turns out my dad hated those bottles of whisky as much as me, what I want to say with this post is that you don’t have to buy an expensive whisky for it to be a good one.
Let me introduce you to a bloody good example.
Glen Moray is a single malt scotch whisky. Single Malt 101: To be called a single malt scotch, the spirit has to have been distilled at a single distillery, using a pot still, and made from a mash of malted grain. So grain is taken to the distillery. It’s dampened and it’s temperature and humidity maintained until it begins to sprout. This is malting. It’s then turned into a mash with water and yeast which over time results in a sweet mushy liquid, similar to a beer. It’s then distilled, via pot still, then put into casks to age.
Three years or so later, ta-dah! Single Malt.
Of course, it’s the latter stage where the distilleries can have a little fun. Whisky is primarily, and initially aged in an old ‘single fill’ (it’s been used once) bourbon barrel. Although you need to age a whisky for a minimum of 3 years, you can then age it further, change the casks and barrels used, to impart different flavours into the whisky. It’s one of the reasons that there is such variety in whisky styles and flavours.
This particular Glen Moray is finished in Oloroso Sherry casks. We aren’t told for how long, nor indeed how long old the whisky is aged for, but it doesn’t matter. The result is delish. It’s also, believe it or not, in Sainsbury’s for a measly £20.
Complete and utter bargain.
On the nose, it’s a classic sherry cask whisky. Vanilla, fruit, cinnamon – so much of the latter it’s almost akin to a bourbon with a spicy note. On the palate there’s a good hit of cinnamon, vanilla and spice, warm toffee, but the finish is all dark chocolate.
It doesn’t linger overly, which makes it a bit moreish – you want to get that bitter chocolate flavour back in your mouth and let it sit a while. In fact I suspect pairing it with a little bitter chocolate would be a delicious experiment.
And it’s only £20.
All I’m saying is, try something a bit different.
Spend the extra £4 and get this.