Talking whisky with Master Distiller Graham Coull

Graham Coull leading the tasting...Master Distiller
Graham Coull leading the tasting

Alexandra Meyer

Getting the chance to taste not one but five incredible whiskies in one night is something I was incredibly honoured to do. For me, it was a one off event where I got to immerse myself in my appreciation for whisky with plenty of other people who share a similar love for that delicious amber spirit. For Graham Coull, a whisky tasting of this nature is just another part of his day job.

A sea of whiskies...Glen Moray tasting
A sea of whiskies…Glen Moray tasting

Graham Coull is the Glen Moray Master Distiller and Distillery Master. His job sounds even more exclusive when he reveals that he’s only the fifth person to hold the title of Master Distiller since the distillery’s beginnings in 1897. Mr Coull was recently in Sydney to celebrate the release of Glen Moray’s 25 Year Old Portwood Finish Single Malt Whisky.

And it was quite a celebration.

Not wanting to leave out the other incredible work done by Glen Moray the tasting also included a few of their other top drops including the Glen Moray Chardonnay Cask 10 Year Old Single Malt Whisky, the Glen Moray 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky and the Glen Moray 16 Year Old Single Malt Whisky.

While Mr Coull admitted that his favourite way to enjoy a glass of whisky is simply on its own, he is also a fan of matching Glen Moray with a strong mature cheese.

Each of the whiskies tasted on the night were paired with a different block of cheese which really did bring out the natural sweetness of the whisky.

The highlights in my opinion were the Glen Moray 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky paired with parmesan and the Glen Moray 25 Year Old Portwood Finish Single Malt Whisky paired with 36 month comte.

According to Mr Coull the 12 Year Old is really the house style in Glen Moray terms. It’s made in ex-bourbon casks and exhibits some butterscotch toffee flavours as well as a little bit of a citrusy, zesty flavour. The slight sweetness of the 12 Year Old was an excellent match for the harsh bite of the parmesan.

Graham Coull leading the tasting...Master Distiller
Graham Coull leading the tasting…Master Distiller

And while the 25 Year Old Portwood Finish Single Malt Whisky could and probably should be drunk on its own due to its rich and complex flavours the aged comte was a great addition. Despite its long ageing process the 25 Year Old still has quite a kick to it and the rich creaminess of the comte balanced it well.

Mr Coull said he was approached two years ago and asked to come up with a Portwood Whisky. He took a whisky which had spent 23 years in bourbon casks and then transferred it to port casks for the last two years where it took in all the flavour from the wine. The whisky still has quite a spicy kick from the bourbon but takes on a sweetness from the wine as well.

For those of us who expected a smoother finish to the 25 Year Old, Mr Coull explained that the distillers wanted an aged whisky that stood out in the market.

Making cocktails with Glen Moray...the Highland Fizz
Making cocktails with Glen Moray…the Highland Fizz

“Many whiskies, the older they get, they get smooth which is a synonym for dull and plain. But for us we wanted to keep the spice,” he said.

The result is an incredibly rich and full bodied whisky with lashings of fruit and vanilla. And to keep it even more unique Glen Moray will only be releasing 3,482 individually numbered bottles of the whisky worldwide.

Now that my dream night of socially acceptable whisky drinking in excess is over I’ll be busy trying to get my hands on a bottle of the 25 Year Old and continuing to be wistful of Mr Coull’s descriptions of  his favourite things about his amazing day job.

“I cast my eye over the whole process at Glen Moray from ordering raw materials in to selecting whisky for bottling therefore no two days are ever the same,” he said.

“Plus the view from my window is 10 houses of whisky and I’ve got the key. And I’ve got to take homework with me back to the house. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.”

Share this article