Mortlach is one of the distilleries that has often been named as a hidden gem amongst whisky enthusiasts. I myself have become one of the may fans of this distillery that offers a small set of official distillery bottlings, but has a large number of independent bottlers who regularly release casks of the meticulously crafted spirit for us to taste. I got a chance to taste this Mortlach from the archives of Gordon & MacPhail, put into their first set of the Speyside Collection series, which distilled on the 27th of January 1954, matured in first fill Sherry butt #494 and bottled at an age of 58 on the 20th of November 2012. A rare opportunity to taste a Mortlach of this age, for which I am – needless to say – very grateful.
43% abv, €12.500*
Nose: A nose full of dried fruits, cranberries, raspberries, raisins, blackberries, brambles – the works. Dirty, earthy and waxy as we know and love about Mortlach, with minty thyme filling in the herbal gap, and a hint of milk chocolate.
Palate: A fruity mouthful of sweet and sour pineapple juice, slightly dirty and mouth drying sweet red wine
Finish: Very dry. Clearly an ex-Sherry cask with lots of dry red wine notes and dried berry fruits. Slowly the tannin bitter takes over from the fruits, yet, after a minute or so, the fruit is fighting back to win the battle.
Conclusion: Give her some time to open up. She has been in a cask for 58 years, and this is clearly noticeable. I eventually – hesitantly – added a couple of drops of water, but she took it favourable. Still a long and dry finish, but that could just be the thing you are after. Not mu favourite of the series, there is a lot of “oumph” to be dealt with, maybe a little too much for my palate.
*for the set of six bottles