Lain Allan grew up in Elgin in the heart of Speyside. He always had a passion and love for whisky, living near so many distilleries. He went to university, studied law and management, but didn’t really know what he wanted to do at that time. Turns out he ended up in the drink industry as a retailer. He then decided to get more involved in the drink’s industry and in 2002, he joined The Macallan as manager in charge of developing the visitor center. In 2005 he joined Glen Moray and since that time, his role has evolved from building the visitor center and visitor site, to now being the international and home brand ambassador for The Glen Moray.
I had the opportunity to spend some time with Lain and asked him few questions.
• Do you remember the first time you experienced whisky?
I do not really remember the first time I experienced whisky but it was always around me. My dad and grandfather always had whisky around, and no matter the events, whisky always came up. As a kid, whisky was always put under my nose to smell and I was very curious about it.
• Did you know what you wanted to do growing up?
It was a controversial time in the UK and I decided to study European Union at the University, which is also the topic of my dissertation. During my studies, I decided to focus on the drink industry, and immediately fell in love with it!
• How did you decide to become a brand ambassador?
While working on The Macallan visitor’s center, a colleague mentionned that Glen Moray was looking for a Brand Ambassador. I applied and fortunately was chosen.
• Which distillery would you have liked to work for?
A lot of them! I can’t really pick one as I like the industry in general. I would be sad to leave Glen Moray, and I wish to stay here for a long time.
• How do you see your future?
I’d like to stay with Glen Moray as the brand has evolved a lot in recent years, and the future looks bright. Being involved during the promotion and seeing it grow and develop is fantastic. A couple of years ago Glen Moray was not really on the map; so to see everything that has been achieved and is yet to be achieved is great!
• Do you have any advice to give to people who want to become a brand ambassador?
You need to drink whisky ! (😂) Product knowledge is really important and probably at the basis of the industry. Future Brand Ambassadors should live to bring with them the love of whisky in general. Having the confidence to stand up in front of people and hosting a tasting with knowledge takes a lot of time. It’s a subject that you’re always learning on, and even I am still studying distillation and the processes behind it. If you think you know it all, then you should stop immediately what you are doing. Anybody with a passion for whisky and a hunger for knowledge could be an ambassador. It’s a fun job, but there is hard work happening behind the scene. As long as you know your stuff and you have the passion for whisky, you should not be worried.
• What is the most memorable moment you have related to scotch ?
There is one moment that I always look back at, a couple of years ago, as I attended a gathering with people from the industry. There was a meeting on Orkney at the Highland Park distillery and at the end of the meeting we all went on top of a hill. We brought a bottle of whisky up there and as a group we drank it while watching the sunset. Doing that with people who carry the same passion as me, all working for different distilleries, was something really amazing. I highly recommend to travel there.
• Which one of the Glen Moray’s scotch is your favorite?
The 18 years old is currently my favorite.
As you don’t always drink the same beer, the same goes with wine or whisky. You pick one that suits what you are eating, what you’re doing, who you are with. The right whisky for the right moment.
• Which scotch do you drink often?
The Glen Moray 12 years old. And if you have never tried Glen Moray, start with this one.
• A whisky you are looking forward to open?
I really like Comic books and science fiction, so I ordered the complete set of Games of Throne whiskies. I am super excited to receive them, but I don’t think my boss will be as happy to learn that I bought another brand 😬
• What is your second favorite distillery?
The first distillery I worked for was Highland Park, so that one is special to me. The Macallan also because they gave me a chance in the industry, and because of the way they are now. I also really really like Glendronach, with the big sherry influenced whiskies they produce.
• What is the best whisky you ever drank?
The Glen Moray’s 120th anniversary. Such a complex and elegant scotch, and every single time I’ve sampled it, I always found something else coming out of it. Some of the oldest casks have been used to created this whisky. It costs around 800£ and only 1,000 bottles were produced.
• Where is your favorite spot to go drink whisky in Scotland?
Right in the heart of the Speyside there is the Craigellachie bar that has a decent choice of whiskies. There’s also a bar downstairs that is less formal, more relaxed. The pub is called the Copper dog.
• Where do you have to go when visiting Scotland?
It has to be Speyside. There is so many great distilleries, a lot of castles, great golf courses, greats bars and restaurants . It’s a very calm part of the world, and is way different than the big cities there. You have the opportunity to walk along the Spey, the river which provides the source of water for so many distilleries. And of course, sipping Speyside whisky in Speyside makes it better than anywhere else in the world.
• Is there someone that inspires you?
Graham Coull Master Distiller for Glen Moray is someone that helped me a lot. Graham has always been supportive at Glen Moray throughout my career. We joined Glen Moray the same week, and we kind of grew up and learned on the distillery together. His assistance and knowledge gave me the confidence to be the brand ambassador I am today. He has been a great influence on me.
Afterwards, I had the opportunity to taste 7 scotches from The Glen Moray at the Bootlegger. Here is my review for them:
• Glen Moray Chardonnay
Nose : an explosion of vanilla submerges me out of nowhere, making it light on the nose. Some apple and pear, with nice cinnamon finish.
Palate : really smooth when at first, then slightly spicy, well balanced, with a touch of lemon zest.
Finish : nice balance, the finish is full of spices. It stays for a medium period in the mouth. The vanilla comes back at the end to say goodbye.
• Glen Moray Port Cask
Nose : apple, pear, light oak. This is a warm and complex nose. Dried fruits at the end.
Palate : warm in the mouth, touch of spices, citrus and cinnamon.
Finish : apples and pears stay at the end. Medium finish with some spicyness.
• Glen Moray 12 years old
Nose : a touch of vanilla, it’s floral with some cinnamon. Notes of fruits and sweetness.
Palate : It is sweet, but relatively smooth in the mouth. Beautiful roundness, but I was expecting something more for the 12 years old.
Finish : it got a sweet finish, lingering for a medium period of time.
• Glen Moray 15 years old
Nose : What an elegant nose that we have here. I can definitely smell the sherry oak.
Palate : honey, really smooth, some spices, dark chocolat really intense but just enough.
Finish : starting to be longer than the others and more complex.
• Glen Moray 18 years old
Nose : now we’re talking about something different. A warm toffee comes to your nose, it’s really creamy and generous. A touch of ginger at the end.
Palate : the alcohol is more present but well balanced. The flavors just doubled and get creamier in the mouth. The oils make the honey and the warm spices stay in the mouth longer than previously.
Finish : A floral finish that gets mellow, notes of ginger and cinnamon. Really long and smooth.
• Glen Moray Peated
Nose : fabulous, it’s really strong and balanced. It reminds me of some Ardbeg or Laphroaig, really impressing.
Palate : the nose is better than the mouth, which is a bit disappointing. Lightly peated and smoky. A touch of vanilla.
Finish : long and spicy.
• Glen Moray Mastery
Nose : big explosion of Sherry. I can definitely smell some really sweet and fresh and intense Sherry. Dried fruits comes after with some hazelnut. A big rich fruit cake then comes, with some prunes, grapes and warm honey. The end goes stronger with notes of orange.
Palate : alcohol again is strong but with a perfect balance. Again the fruit cake comes back, so mellow, so smooth. Some old grapes, chocolat, vanilla and coffee are present.
Finish : perfect !! Even better when I grabbed a Poutine. For those who doesn’t know what a poutine is, it is french fries, cheese and dark sauce. The combinaison between this 2k scotch and this 15$ poutine was just really interesting and really satisfying.