Google Whats the best among these eleven Mortlach

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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

June 1, 2017


What’s the best among
these eleven Mortlach?

Ooh I so hate those kinds of headlines, I really do. And I won’t do it again, I promise… What’s sure is that we’ll have, indeed, a rather large bag of Mortlach, some young and some old, some fruity and some meaty. And shan’t we do that at random again, for more fun? With compliments of the wee witchie…

Mortlach 12 yo 2005/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 11595, 329 bottles)

Mortlach 12 yo 2005/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 11595, 329 bottles) Three stars Colour: white wine. Nose: fruity. Cherries and gooseberries, with a little powdered chalk and perhaps just a touch of gunpowder thrown over. Whiffs of iodine over all that, but those are related to the chalkiness (and perhaps to the natural sulphur). A dollop of hand cream. Mouth: this is rather fat! Oily mouth feel, with cranberry syrup and tinned peaches (with a lot of syrup) plus some strong green tea and always this chalky/sulphury touch that many people like in Mortlach’s distillate. And this one’s pretty naked, so there’s quite a lot of that. Finish: long, grassier. Some cardamom in the aftertaste. Comments: very good young Mortlach in its most natural state. Not only for whisky blenders… SGP:561 - 82 points.

Mortlach 1998/2016 ‘Ginger Glazed Gammon’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, barrel, 306 bottles)

Mortlach 1998/2016 ‘Ginger Glazed Gammon’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, barrel, 306 bottles) Four stars These can be excellent… Colour: straw. Nose: this one’s much nuttier, and it’s got this ‘good’ sulphur and chalk, plasticine, sour dough, fresh baguette, linseed oil, even touches of graphite… Doesn’t sound like a Speysider, does it? Mouth: we’re going towards Springbank, really. A big fat mineral and oily arrival, bitter oranges, a pinhead of chilli, then grapefruit peel and green kiwis (I know all kiwis are green, but these ones are extra-green). Finish: long, a tad porridge-y, and a little less fruity than other similarly aged Mortlachs. Comments: rather an austere one, with all of Mortlach’s usual potency. SGP:451 - 85 points.

Mortlach 1996/2015 (46%, Scyfion, Odesskoe Chernoe Cask Finish, Ukraine, 330 bottles)

Mortlach 1996/2015 (46%, Scyfion, Odesskoe Chernoe Cask Finish, Ukraine, 330 bottles) Three starsAnother funny finish in Ukrainian wine wood. I have to say the ones I could already try had been excellent. Colour: gold. Nose: I don’t know what Odesskoe Chernoe is, as all I could find was in Cyrillic, but this is interesting, rather dry, apricoty, slightly resinous/sappy, with chestnut purée and hints of used gunpowder, plus a wee buttery side. Whiffs of fresh concrete, and perhaps the tiniest hints of asparagus. Mouth: all in line, concrete-y, asparagussy (!) and rather nutty, with some oranges in the background. A little gritty, with a greenish tannicity. Finish: long, peppery, curry-like, with some kind of chutney behind that. Comments: I think I liked the other Scyfions I could try better (Linkwood, Mannochmore), but this is fine for sure, just a little more unbalanced. Mortlach is a distillate to handle with care, I’d say. SGP:362 - 80 points.

Mortlach 21 yo 1994/2015 (50.4%, Murray McDavid, Mission Gold, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #2)

Mortlach 21 yo 1994/2015 (50.4%, Murray McDavid, Mission Gold, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #2) Two stars MMcD really seem to have gotten more active again… Colour: gold. Nose: ah, this one’s really sulphury. Used matches, cooking cabbage, truffles, gas, all that. And behind that, a rather blank, almost neutral spirit. Lemon-scented soap? Quick, water… With water: much better! Leather, tobacco, fruit peel, green bananas… Mouth (neat): not quite. Fanta, Schweppes, orange peel, lavender, pepper liqueur (yup that exists, in case you’re wondering)… With water: a little better. The Fanta got more natural, but there’s this sourness. Finish: medium, bitterish. What’s much nicer is this bag of sherries in the aftertaste, where do those come from? A matter of weird molecules, I suppose. Comments: doesn’t taste at all like a fresh barrel. Mildly perplexed (there are currently some much, much better MMcDs in my opinion!) SGP:361 - 74 points.

Mortlach 21 yo 1994/ (52.1%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 210 bottles)

Mortlach 21 yo 1994/ (52.1%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 210 bottles) Three stars Colour: straw. Nose: very interesting, its got a similar sulphuriness, but the cleaner side of it puts it in a better box. Funny hints of williams pears, rubbed orange peel, candle wax, sulphur indeed, natural soap, gravel… All that sounds unlikely, but this time the balance is right. In short, it’s very Mortlachy. With water: raw malt, chalk, and dare I say, ‘vase water’. Huge saponification as well… Now we haven’t got much time, let’s move on and not wait until that settles down… Mouth (neat): there is a wee bit of soap again, but the grapefruit fights it and defeats it. Almost a Netflix malt! (and now for something new…) With water: balance is back. Waxy lemons and some chalky green tea. Finish: medium, malty, with some bread dough and some pepper. Comments: well, not the easiest whisky ever either, but it’s better balanced than the Murray (McDavid). SGP:361 - 80 points.

I have to say I’m a bit surprised. Cadenhead, the floor is still yours…

Mortlach 27 yo 1988/2016 (52.6%, Cadenhead, Sherry Wood, 498 bottles)

Mortlach 27 yo 1988/2016 (52.6%, Cadenhead, Sherry Wood, 498 bottles) Two stars Colour: gold. Nose: lol! Huge sulphur, this smells almost like a Napoleon cannon that just fired. A large box of used matches, the exhaust of an E-Type, many roasted nuts, Paris’ périphérique (ring) on a Friday evening… And yet there’s some charm to this. I don’t know, this is not a flaw, it’s a feature. See what I mean? With water: poo-ah! (in French we say pouah!) A working tyre factory. Mouth (neat): not as extreme, but you’re still feeling like you’re eating a piece of tyre with some orange sauce. Big leather, lemony ginger, green pepper sauce, walnuts, burned rubber, black truffles… With water: notes of high-ester rum. Serious. That’s nice! Finish: long. Balzac’s Human Comedy is long too. Comments: for all the Marquis de Sade in us, some literary whisky. Sulphury whisky in a sulphury cask, dunno what to think. Automatic scoring engaged. SGP:273 - 75 points.

Cadenhead, the floor is still yours…

Mortlach 28 yo 1987/2016 (55.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 198 bottles)

Mortlach 28 yo 1987/2016 (55.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 198 bottles) Five stars I guess this one will be more kosher. Or orthodox. Or catholic. Colour: gold. Nose: in the style of the very nice Wemyss, only with more of these grassy/herbal notes that I enjoy a lot. Capers and olives, damp chalk, concrete, bitter oranges, linseed oil, and a really funny touch of earthy banana (fallen on the ground). Very Mortlachian. With water: class! Lemon barley chalk. Mouth (neat): superb! Creamy yet tart tropical fruit liqueur, grapefruits, spearmint, touches of ginger, aniseed, wormwood in the background (yep even a feeling of absinthe)… All is well and all is good now. With water: have I already written ‘superb’? Fab citrus and perfect light wax, plus these mineral touches. Adopted. Finish: long, perfectly well chiselled, lemony, waxy, mineral… Comments: I love contrasts, don’t you? SGP:562 - 90 points.

Cadenhead, we need confirmation!

Mortlach 30 yo 1987/2017 (48.2%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon hogshead)

Mortlach 30 yo 1987/2017 (48.2%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon hogshead) Four stars and a half In theory, nothing could go wrong… Colour: pale gold. Nose: and nothing does, although this one’s rather more demanding. More buttery/herbal notes (there’s a nice company in France, called Bordier, that flavours real butter with seaweed – a hit!)… More sour dough as well, crushed leaves, lemon peel, paraffin, then natural rubber… Perhaps is it the most Mortlachian of them all, as far as the distillate’s concerned. With water: mud, earth, clay! Mouth (neat): it’s so doggone funny! It’s yet another style, and frankly, kudos to Cadenhead for giving us so many variations, all interesting, many unusual, and all worth buying (even when my scores are low, because remember, that’s all only a matter of individual taste). I’m so glad I could try these three (four?) extremely different Mortlachs in a row! Excuse me? Flavours? Rather mineral/citric. With water: perfect, rather more mentholy. Bay leaves somewhere in the back. Finish: rather long, with fresh oak spices. Notes of dry ale. Comments: more precision in the AC, more complexity in this one. I’m rather in a precision mood these days. SGP:362 - 89 points.

Such a distillate! We just couldn’t stop here… Let’s check some older ones if you please, because you ain’t seen nothing yet (where are BTO?)

Mortlach 23 yo 1972 (59.4%, OB, Rare Malts, B291, +/-1995)

Mortlach 23 yo 1972 (59.4%, OB, Rare Malts, B291, +/-1995) Five stars There had been different batches or even single casks (some early RMs were single casks indeed) of this black baby, identified by a cryptic code, in this case B291. Oh don’t we all so miss the Rare Malts (when whisky was all about elegance and content)? Colour: gold. Nose: stop it. This is immense, as perfect as a Patek Philippe Grande Complication, and yet extremely concise. Now you see, it’s a 1972, and in 1972, all planets aligned to perfection over Scotland. Sunflower oil, compote, graphite, plasticine, paraffin, soft sulphur, citrons… You might start to think about calling the Anti-maltoporn Brigade. Just saying… With water: astounding, it reacts to water even better than pastis. Superb beeswax. Mouth (neat): terrific, as Cosmo Kramer used to say. Lemony, mineral, medicinal, oily, yet sharply herbal… And this fatness, this is no empty malt whisky! As they say, it’s superlative. By Jove, 1972… With water: bang, the waxes are back. You may call that brigade NOW. Finish: I so like it that this wee sulphury side is still there. Comments: Diageo, now that retro’s gotten so ‘today’, why not restart the Rare Malts series? Take our money and do it! SGP:462 - 93 points.

Mortlach 1954/2012 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail)

Mortlach 1954/2012 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail) Five stars G&M have kind of relaunched these bottlings under the ‘the wood makes the whisky’ banner. Well, so far these whiskies have proven that they’re rather the distillates AND the bottler that make the whisky. Both excellent. Love G&M anyway, they could launch a new ‘the underback makes the whisky’ campaign and we would still follow them… Haha… Colour: deep amber. Nose: indeed, this is very G&M, it’s not (only) about the wood. Smoking beedies, puréed chestnuts, pine needles, a box of puros, soft ham, acorns, fir smoke, dried kelp on a beach, burnt caramel, garden peat… Need I add more to tell you how brilliant this nose is? (no frankly, if it were all about the wood, where are the Speyburns and the Glenkinchies of similar quality?) Mouth: the exact antithesis of the Rare Malts. Old herbal liqueurs, cocoa, more pine-y things, mocha, tarry liquorice, overbaked brownies, prunes, old armagnac, a drop of pastis, burnt wood… Okay, okay, there is some wood, but still… And does the distillate shine through? Yes it does, with these chestnutty notes, the very faint sulphur, the very discreet meatiness (the tiniest bit of Spanish ham), the oranges… Finish: sadly, yes. On chocolate and hundreds of tinier flavours. Old oloroso in the aftertaste. Comments: you made the whisky. Emphasis on ‘you’. SGP:472 - 92 points.

Ah control… Now I swear to sweet Vishnu that the next one will be the last one, it just won’t be just any Mortlach. Cross my heart!

Mortlach 39 yo (86° proof, George Strachan, 26 2/3 fl oz., +/-1970)

Mortlach 39 yo (86° proof, George Strachan, 26 2/3 fl oz., +/-1970) Five stars 1930s distillation, most certainly. Pre-war, for sure, although it’s well known that Mortlach was one of the three or four distilleries that kept producing during the Second World War. Maybe is this war distillate? Peat fired? As for Strachan’s whiskies, we’ve tried a few, all were great. Why no one’s taking up the gauntlet, I don’t know. Colour: deep amber. Nose: sit down, relax, we’ve got plenty of time. Mind you, this wee baby’s spent almost 40 years in wood, and more than 40 years in its bottle. In truth, it’s poetic. This is what’s missing from most contemporary bottlings, poetry. I’ll mention thin mints, chestnut cake, tropical humus, burning pinecones and needles, carbon (paper, remember?), roasting cocoa pods, coffee beans (robusta, no one likes them, but I do), charcoal, cigars, dried beef, soy sauce… Now all that isn’t big, it’s even whispering, it’s a ballad, not a symphony. Mouth: this is what often happens with these old glories, the palate is a bit ‘below’ the nose. It’s till great though, but it’s more or less a simpler combination of cocoa, coffee, roasted peanuts, black tea, ham, and dried mint. Not quite umami-esque this time, but yeah, it’s still great old whisky. Chocolaty ham, that’s very ‘Mortlach and sherry’. Finish: medium, very chocolaty, with a few gamey notes in the aftertaste. Say wild boar stew. Comments: whether they already had the small still working in pre-war times, I couldn’t tell you, but there, on our behalf, I’m sending compliments to our friend Wee Witchie! SGP: - 91 points.

(Thanks a lot mucho, KC)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Mortlach I've tasted so far


Whiskyfun fav of the month

May 2017

Favourite recent bottling:
North British 55 yo 1961/2017 (55.1%, Hunter Laing, The Sovereign, cask # 13328, 144 bottles) - WF 93

Favourite older bottling:
Miltonhaugh 28 yo 1966 (63.5%, The Whisky Connoisseur, cask #3154, +/-1994) - WF 96

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Bruichladdich 10 yo ‘The Laddie Ten Second Edition’ (50%, OB, 18000 bottles, +/-2016) - WF 87

Favourite malternative:
West Indies Dark Rum 1948/1991 (49%, Samaroli, 800 bottles)- WF 95







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