Australians are notoriously adventurous drinkers, and one of the major trends currently affecting the Australian whisk(e)y market is the interest in unique, craft styles.

Though Scotch Whisky is governed by firm legislation surrounding origin and the distilling process, there are still new and experimental styles to excite the Australian market. Glen Moray Global Brand Ambassador Iain Allan explained that these styles are often found in limited edition releases.

“Australia seems like quite a mature whisky market. People have their tastes, have their profiles and it is those limited editions that will catch people’s attention when we do something a little bit different, a little bit out of the ordinary,” he said.

While limited edition whiskies draw attention and excitement, they unfortunately cannot generate repeat customers on their own due to their limited stock.

“The limited editions burn brightly, burn quickly, and disappear. That is great fun, and they’re always fun to work with, but the problem with that is you’ll always find customers who’ve fallen in love with it. They’re like, ‘Are you bringing it back?’ and you’re like, ‘Maybe, eventually, but we have to move on to the next thing.’ We have to keep it fresh, keep it interesting,” Allan described.

This is why Glen Moray has the core Explorer range, which include surprising expressions such as a Chardonnay cask finish. This is a particularly popular expression in the Australian market, with distilleries such as Starward and Cape Byron both releasing single malts with Chardonnay cask finishes.

“We have a versatile spirit. We have a spirit which allows us this opportunity to experiment, which we lean into really heavily and we have done for years,” Allan noted.

These core whiskies support the more experimental whiskies by providing both consistent supply and an accessible entry point into the brand and category.

“We have such a wide portfolio, especially with all the limited editions which are rotating very often, so you can grow with us. You can start your path, and you can keep evolving and changing,” said Marion Divaret, spokesperson for Bardinet, Glen Moray’s parent company.

The Explorer range appeals to Glen Moray’s three customer bases: new entrants to the Scotch whisky category, those searching for traditional whiskies, and those looking for experimental casks.

“We’re trying to be a whisky for everyone. Whether that’s everyone in the sense of your taste palate, or the depth of your pockets,” Allan said.

As the cost of living increases, more customers will be looking at the price of their drinks. Glen Moray is known for its relatively low cost when compared to other Scotch whiskies, but Allen emphasises that this is not representative of a lower quality.

“One of the most commonly asked questions we get is, why is Glen Moray so cheap? I’d turn it on its head and say, why is everybody else so expensive?” he queried.

“As for how the cost of a whisky affects production, it doesn’t. Scotch whisky is one of the most protected industries in the world so we can’t cut corners, we can’t not do what the other guys are doing because we want to make it cheaper. We have to follow the SEC guidelines,” he continued.

Though regional distinctions and a sense of place are vital to Scotch whisky, sticking too close to a regional style risks stifling creativity.

“Under this ownership and previous ownerships, the distillery was a very experimental distillery, one that liked to push out of boundaries. To do that you have to step away from your region because if you keep it all the same, trying to keep a certain characteristic, you end up with a homogenous mass of same, same, same, same,” Allan explained.

The most obvious case of pushing these boundaries at Glen Moray is the introduction of peated whiskies, which actually use Speyside peat.

“Peating is not a Speyside characteristic, it’s West Coast Islands, so we’ve had to beg, borrow and steal a little bit from what they do. We’re not trying to steal their market share. We put our own spin on it. It’s that accessible word that we’re using. We do a peated whisky that we feel is accessible for people to come in and they want to feel that it’s affordable. And from a flavour profile, it’s accessible as well,” Allan detailed.

In Allen’s opinion, it is Glen Moray’s long heritage that allows the distillery to release these interesting expressions and finished.

“It’s not a quick turnaround of eight months finishing in a cask and bringing something new that we started eight months ago,” Allan explained. “Some of these projects range back 15, 20 years in the making. These were started by people that have left the business, retired, or gone elsewhere, so you kind of feel like you’re carrying somebody else’s baby to bring it out to the market. It’s fun to revisit these things because these casks have been sitting there for years and it’s great to see them get a light shone on them in the market,” Allan concluded.

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