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One of the most well-balanced whiskies I've tasted, Mortlach 15 yo (Gordon & MacPhail bottling) is kind enough for the novice, yet full-bodied and layered enough for the most demanding anorak. From nose to finish, it's a winner in every department.
Nose: Very malty at every stage, whether straight from the bottle or after 30 minutes of opening up. Also plenty of sherry, apples, sour citrus, vanilla, cake, and tiny dashes of just about everything on the spice rack. The only slight negative in the entire experience is a teensy trace of dust that emerges from time to time. But it's usually well-hidden by the many other delights.
Taste: Delicate -- almost fragile, in fact, as it opens up -- but so well-rounded and layered. Nothing screams; everything is whispered, yet there's so much going on that the total effect is as rich as it is cloud-light. Malt, sherry, vanilla, toasted wood, caramel, raisins, slight meat notes, a hint of milk chocolate, and I think I get a touch of spearmint in the finish. The arrival is a bit neutral, but the development reveals countless delights the longer you chew it. Finish is as smooth as butter on silk, and as satisfying as Grandma's Christmas dinner.
I've rated only two other whiskies in my cabinet as high as this one, and I would have awarded this an extra point or two were it not for one puzzling factor: why is my bottle at 40% ABV when it seems to be widely available at 43%? (I might have scored it even higher had it been at least 46%!)