How we make our whisky
We've been handcrafting Glen Moray on Speyside, in much the same way since 1897. As a single malt Scotch whisky, Glen Moray is distilled from only malted barley and water, in copper pot stills, at a single distillery. Here's our step-by-step guide to making our smooth, well-balanced whisky.
We start by 'malting' our barley. This involves steeping grain in water to begin germination, then laying it out as it continues sprouting, to make 'green malt'. At a particular point, the barley is transferred to a kiln where it is dried with hot air, to stop further germination. When we make our Peated Single Malt some of our barley is dried in a kiln fired by peat, to create its distinctively smoky taste.
Milling & Mashing
The malt is then ground up in our mill, which has served our distillery for 50 years, to make 'grist'. We add this grist into our large mash tun, where we mix it with water, heated initially to about 64°C. Our water is uniquely sourced from the River Lossie, which runs right by our distillery. During mashing, we convert the starch in the barley into sugar. Dissolved in the water, it makes a sweet liquid called 'wort'.
Next, we pump the wort into our washbacks, where yeast is added to begin fermentation. As the yeast feeds off the sugar, it makes alcohol and creates fruity and floral compounds, such as esters, which will influence our whisky's taste. After 60 hours of fermenting, our 'wash' is ready to be distilled. At this stage, it is around 8.7% ABV.
To distil our spirit, we boil up our wash twice, in our nine copper stills (the copper helps to create certain flavours in our spirit and remove unwanted compounds). Our first distillation takes place in our wash stills. Here, the wash is heated to create a vapour, which rises up the stills and is cooled in a condenser, making 'low wines' - a spirit of around 21% ABV. This liquid then passes into our spirit stills, where it is distilled for a second time, creating a spirit of around 70% ABV.
Making the cut
We collect only the purest, 'heart' of each spirit run, as it runs through our spirit safe. This is known as taking our spirit cut. The stronger, impure 'heads' which come first and the weaker 'tails' which follow after are collected separately, to be used again in the next distillation. At last, we have our new-make spirit.
Finally, we fill our spirit into oak casks, most usually American oak (it is the Speyside tradition) but we also use many different cask types giving our spirit different flavours. Then we roll them into our warehouses to age. There they will remain for many years, as wood and spirit interact, adding complexity and flavour to our whisky. Watched over by our craftsmen, some will be chosen some to be aged as long as 20 or 25 years, or perhaps even longer still...
Sharing with the angels
Our distillery is ideally situated for ageing whisky. We enjoy a milder climate, as we are sheltered from the extremes of Scotland's weather by the nearby Cairngorm and Monadhliath Mountains. And so, the temperature in our warehouses stays relatively stable throughout the year. Since Glen Moray is located in the Laich O'Moray below the water table (laich means 'low' in Scottish Gaelic), our warehouses [have a higher humidity than some others]. All this creates great conditions for maturing whisky... and helps ensure the angels' share (the amount of spirit which evaporates from our casks each year) remains at 2% and no more!
Being in the Laich O’Moray the distillery benefits from the regions milder climate as it is afforded protection from the Cairngorm and Monadhliath Mountains. The distilleries geographic location and also sitting in a hollow below the water table, means that the warehousing has the perfect conditions to allow for the Angels to take more of a share of our whisky than they will of others. A perfect geographic location for cask exploration and maturation !
We've been maturing our spirit in an array of different casks for more than 120 years. It's this tradition which inspires our diverse range of single malt whiskies. Using skills passed from generation to generation, our craftsmen are expert in marrying contrasting whiskies, 'finishing' aged single malt into port casks, wine casks and more. In this way, they bring new flavours to our Speyside whisky. Enjoy the results in our Classic Collection and our Heritage Collection, and discover our most intriguing cask innovations in our Curiosity Collection.