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

October 17, 2018


More Mortlach than in Dufftown

So to speak. Seriously, we may try many of them today, let’s see how far we’ll get, while praying to The Wee Witchie…

Mortlach 12 yo (43.4%, OB, 2018)

Mortlach 12 yo (43.4%, OB, 2018) Four stars
Owners Diageo have recently turned the brand upside down, as it seems that the earlier deluxe ‘positioning’ did not work too well. Too much branding and some ambassadorship that was clearly too un-natural, if you ask me (say it S., it was artificial!) Mortlach is not vodka! So this is the new entry-level expression, a well-aged 12. Exit NAS, apparently, triple-hurray! Colour: gold. Nose: the whisky remains modern, do not expect anything too leathery, tobacco-y, or even sulphury, as we’re rather on roasted peanuts, walnuts, and baked raisins and dates. There’s some pumpernickel too – love pumpernickel! Great with tasty foie gras, by the way. Mouth: really very good, more Mortlach than on the nose, with some modernity again (gingerbread, raisins, cinnamon) but also some tobacco and some drops of mineral oil, as well as some perfect citrus. They may have nailed it this time. Finish: medium, maltier. Brownies and pancakes plus some dark pale syrup and some lemon squash. Comments: they say it’s 2.81 x distilled on the label. A shame that they wouldn’t further explain why – but they’d almost need a poster then.
SGP:451 - 85 points.

Mortlach 16 yo (43.4%, OB, 2018)

Mortlach 16 yo (43.4%, OB, 2018) Four stars and a half
Everyone seemed to like the 16 Flora and Fauna, but it’s never been a favourite at WF Towers. One has to distinguish himself, I suppose. Colour: deep gold. Nose: I dig this, there’s earth, moss, pine needles, mushrooms, Cuban cigars, old rum agricole, chocolate, heather honey (calluna), mint, chestnuts… I say hurray, but let's not get ahead of ourselves… Mouth: exactly yes! Pure orangey Mortlachness, with perfect honeys (several), corn syrup, maple syrup, drops of bitters, gingerbread, stout (I remember Mackeson’s back in the 1970s, but I haven’t tried them since… ach, around 1980) and quite a lot of moderately sweet orange liqueur. Splendid. Finish: rather long, wonderful, orange-y and perfectly honeyed, with a perfect texture until the end of the aftertaste. Comments: to whom this may concern, very well done, Mortlach is back!
SGP:551 - 89 points.

Mortlach 20 yo (43.4%, OB, 2018)

Mortlach 20 yo (43.4%, OB, 2018) Four stars
Oh and looks like they have improved their closures mucho. Adios crumbling corks, let’s just hope there’s no bisphenol or phthalates in these new ones. Yeah right. Colour: gold. Funny that the 16 was a little darker. Nose: this one’s even earthier, but in a way, there was more happening in the 16. This 20 is rather more on fern, moss, old fabric, old wood… Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely, but the 16 was much brighter, and more entertaining. Mouth: no, there, now we’re speaking. Mint, oranges, heather honey, triple-sec, quince jelly, damson liqueur, sloe, rosehip tea…. That one very vivid I have to say. Love rosehip. Finish: medium, honeyed and very remotely smoky. Some eucalyptus honey in the aftertaste. Comments: extremely good, it’s just that I have a weakness for the new 16. Anyway, great work on Mortlach, fast and smart. And genuine.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Good, we have dozens of other ‘lachs, let’s try them completely at random and come what may!

Mortlach 1995/2015 ‘Flambé Fruit’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 337 bottles)

Mortlach 1995/2015 ‘Flambé Fruit’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 337 bottles) Three stars
Haven’t heard much from Wemyss’s in recent times, hope they’re doing well! Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s a more naked, fruity and slightly sulphury Mortlach, with orchard fruits and linseed and groundnut oils. Apples, gooseberries, sunflower oil… Nice vanilla-ed earthiness, as seen and smelled at Ikea’s (what?) Mouth: indeed, there’s a lot of vanilla, and some coconut. Some oranges too, which really saves it, but there’s really a lot of sweet oak. Not bad at all, but the spirit’s a little dominated, shall we say. And we all know that Mortlach’s big. Finish: medium, rather oily, with a little too much coconut for me. Love good American oak, but even a worm will turn. Oh well… Comments: really very good, just a tad too US-oak-led for me. Indeed, oh well…
SGP:641 - 80 points.

Mortlach 19 yo 1996/2016 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, casks #182-183)

Mortlach 19 yo 1996/2016 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, casks #182-183) Four stars
In theory, nothing could go wrong here. Colour: white wine. Nose: yep. More spirit, less oak. More bread, grapefruits, grape pip oil, rye, a wee touch of mustard, some espresso coffee in the background, some pipe smoke… Mouth: bang, Mortlach in its purest form. Sultanas aplenty, then tobacco, this faint sulphur (rather candles instead of matches), roasted chestnuts, speculoos, bitter oranges… It’s all perfect and very true to the distillate. Finish: medium, with a little more pepper and once again a little sweet mustard. Oh well, English mustard, if we must. Comments: a lovable Mortlach. More character than elsewhere, we do applaud even if it’s not totally perfect. Mind you, this is not the Kardashians.
SGP:562 - 87 points.

Mortlach 20 yo 1995/2015 (55%, Riegger’s Selection, second fill, 179 bottles)

Mortlach 20 yo 1995/2015 (55%, Riegger’s Selection, second fill, 179 bottles) Three stars
Love it that they would tell that it’s second fill. Colour: pale gold. Nose: these notes of burning candle, that’s very Mortlach! This is a much rawer beast, let’s be careful. Smoky tea, burning garden peat, potatoes, soot, walnut wine… It’s got all of Mortlach’s trademark sulphury side. Chocolate cake. With water: paraffin and court plaster. I know. Mouth (neat): a beast indeed, and nothing really civilised I’m afraid. Lamp oil, licking tyres, plastic, lemon oil, cologne… Indeed what a beat. With water: more of all that, lamp oil, wax, leatherette, perhaps a wee bit of hard-boiled egg… Finish: rather long, and still rather pleasantly unlikely. Comments: not sure the true Mortlachs are the best Mortlachs. What’s sure is that this one was very rock and roll.
SGP:362 - 82 points.

Mortlach 1994/2017 (54.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, cask #8/92, 1st fill sherry butt)

Mortlach 1994/2017 (54.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, cask #8/92, 1st fill sherry butt) Three stars
That’s right, the older livery. Isn’t it already becoming a little cult? Some say the prices were cult too… Colour: full gold. Nose: sweet Joseph! Mustard, walnuts, Guinness (let’s stick with the owners), truffles, black earth, chocolate. With water: used matches and new tyres. Pirellis or Michelins, naturally… Mouth (neat): yeah right, tobacco, sour wine, the bitterest marmalade, more walnuts than on a walnut tree… With water: bittersweet development. Cranberry sauce, chocolate, a drop of balsamico, some tyres. Finish: long. Smoky chocolate and coffeeish seafood. I know. Comments: indeed, there’s some sulphur(ness) in action in this one. But as always with ex-sherry Mortlach, cask and spirit are joining forces. It’s a style, as they say in Hollywood.
SGP:452 - 80 points.

Mortlach 25 yo 1993/2018 (56.1%, Adelphi, refill sherry, cask #4466, 385 bottles)

Mortlach 25 yo 1993/2018 (56.1%, Adelphi, refill sherry, cask #4466, 385 bottles) Four stars
A new Adelphi, always a joy (but not for my poor old eyes)… Colour: gold. Nose: we’re close to the new official 16, which cannot be bad news. Superb old agricole rum, chestnut purée, rye bread, chestnut honey (king of honeys, drop manuka), Jamaican coffee, chocolate, a pinhead of mustard… Fantastic and oh-so Mortlach! With water: some kind of Asian spicy dish, perhaps something Thai. Utterly love that! Mouth (neat): bang, we may have a winner if it swims well. Juniper, ginger, cloves, chocolate, caraway… All that suggests it was very spicy European oak. The problem is that in my book, European oak just wouldn’t swim – it would rather sink to the bottom, so let us see… With water: phew, that was close, but oranges save it. It is a little too spicy for me (spice cake, gingerbread) but good water would regulate it. Nah, it’s very spicy whisky. Finish: long and very spicy indeed. You could drink this on Sichuan Hot-Pot! (in lieu of Dom Pérignon rosé). Comments: a matter of taste, really. One of the spiciest drams I’ve found this year. Conservative score then…
SGP:462 - 85 points.

Mortlach 29 yo 1988/2018 (55.1%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, butt, 534 bottles)

Mortlach 29 yo 1988/2018 (55.1%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, butt, 534 bottles) Four stars
Colour: deep gold. Nose: smokes! Old pipe, tobacco, used matches, roasting coffee, chicory, cocoa powder, cold-brewed Ethiopian coffee (oh whatever)… With water: mud, floor cloth, new tweed jacket (only one place, Walker slater in Edinburgh, but please do not mention my name), truffles, gas… Mouth (neat): oh, chocolates, grapefruit marmalade, coffee beans, black olives, pipe tobacco, lime-y soot (really), black olives… All this is a little uncertain, but it’s extremely funny. With water: some kind of St. Germain-infused gingerbread. But be warned, St. Germain kills – or will make you blind, at least. Finish: long, spicy, gingery. Comments: or when sulphur rather is an asset. Or a style, at least. Conservative score again.
SGP:462 - 85 points.

Mortlach 1995/2014 (57.5%, Malts of Scotland, for Sylter Trading, bourbon hogshead, cask # MoS ST-003, 260 bottles)

Mortlach 1995/2014 (57.5%, Malts of Scotland, for Sylter Trading, bourbon hogshead, cask # MoS ST-003, 260 bottles) Two stars and a half
Dunno who these Sylter people are, but I’m sure they’re very fine folks. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a greasy, oily, austere Mortlach, very grassy and a tad unsexy. Whiffs of green sawdust. With water: oak, sawdust, Ikea. If we must… Mouth (neat): much better than on the nose, and rather all on pears. Mortlach and pears? Why not? With water: it’s a fact that I love my pears, and this is a perfect pear eau-de-vie. But Mortlach? No, could be any other Dufftown distillery, especially Glenfiddich. Finish: medium, spirity, pear-y, rather unnecessary. Comments: it’s okay but I wouldn’t call this a milestone. A bit disappointed – despite the pears. Apologies, fine Sylter people.
SGP:451 - 78 points.

Mortlach 25 yo 1987/2013 (59.4%, Adelphi, barrel, cask #3100, 208 bottles)

Mortlach 25 yo 1987/2013 (59.4%, Adelphi, barrel, cask #3100, 208 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: ah, sweet meats, nuts, old sémillons (some old Sauternes), bandages, embrocations, iodine… It’s just as if this cask had contained Laphroaig before. Pure speculations, of course. With water: yes, lovely unfolding with mandarins and minty mushrooms, the name escapes me. In French we would say clitocybes – hey why would I have to do all the work? Mouth (neat): extremely very good. Angelica and woodruff, lime, green olives, more lime… anything tart and green, really, even humus and greener earths. With water: perfect, more on anything honeyed and citrusy. That’s the winning combo, always, everywhere. Finish: long, on earthy mushrooms plus this lemony earthiness. Comments: it’s the earthiness that makes it a winning Mortlach.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

We’re losing steam, so a last one and we’ll call this a tasting session – if you don’t disagree.

Mortlach 25 yo 1992/2014 (55.2%, Douglas Laing, Director’s Cut, hogshead, cask #10321, 129 bottles)

Mortlach 25 yo 1992/2014 (55.2%, Douglas Laing, Director’s Cut, hogshead, cask #10321, 129 bottles) Four stars
A series also called ‘Executive Decision’ here and there, apparently. And why not? Was Donald J. involved? Colour: gold. Nose: back to beehive-y smells, tiger balm, Chinese plastics, yoghurt… With water: sour sauces, English gravy, onion sauce… And bone marrow, perhaps. And yet t’s not a thick saucy whisky. Mouth (neat): very good, just not very great in my book. Some green tannins, green tea from last night, grapefruit… With water: back to onions and sauces, with a handful of sultanas thrown in, as well as a cup of average chardonnay. Finish: rather long, rather malty, always with the meaty side. Comments: that’s the thing with Mortlach, it’s not a malt whisky that you could more or less control. Would you call it inconsistent? We’ll ask the blenders next time, I’m sure they would know.
SGP:451 - 86 points.

More Mortlach? Hell, no!

(Gracias Greg, Paul, Tom and other friends)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Mortlach we've tasted so far






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