I've always heard a lot of hype surrounding these older cs releases of Signatory Mortlach, so for Christmas, I decided to order a sample from Master of Malt. Here are my thoughts on this particular batch and if the hype surrounding Mortlach is merited or not.
Nose: Initially you get a phosphorus smoke smell reminiscent of burnt match heads. There's also a very clean but dry note, very similar to boiled grains such as a plain oatmeal. Occasionally there are notes that waft up from the glass of smoked meats as I've heard other reviewers mention. Although to me, it smells more like a smokehouse than smoked meat. Only after letting it breath for a good 15min does it begin to smell of the sherry cask this was aged in.
Taste: Neat- It's has a tangy, bitter, taste of burnt match heads, that's unbearably strong. It's also very very hot! The heat combined with this burnt phosphorous taste literally feels like someone lit a match in my mouth. The flavor intensity made the hairs on my neck stand up. The heat is not even a pleasant heat of a big abv spirit, this is just annoying, burning heat, of bad cask or bad flavor combination. I imagine rubbing alcohol tasting more pleasant that this stuff.
Finish: There's really not much of a finish to be quite honest. It arrives in a flash and finishes just as quickly as if you blew out the match this dram tastes like.
After cutting it with water and letting it rest for 30min:
Nose: More subdued, I once again get boiled grains, wood smoke, and finally, a distinct smoked sausage note, some sherry, but not much else. However, it's much more pleasant this time around. This is due to the fact that the predominating smell it no longer phosphorous but the boiled grains and smoked sausage. Interesting nose that I took my time to enjoy.
Taste: What a dramatic turnaround that some water and half an hour has produced. Excellent balance of flavors. The sherry and wood intermingle beautifully with the smoked sausage. The heat? Gone! completely gone. In terms of weight, it's light, but full flavored. Balance is excellent. Not one flavor dominates, and the complete taste spectrum is enjoyed.
Finish: Wood, sherry, smoke, and smoked sausage.
This whisky is quite the challenge. Initially it tasted terrible that I started to wonder what's was wrong with this whisky? I had to add water to it. There's such a dramatic turnaround when give time and a few drops of water that, if this was given in two glasses to someone, one neat and the other with water, they'd taste like they're not even from the same cask.
Neat this scores a 60 or less, it's that bad, but with water, it's different, and interesting. Easily an 85 once given time and some water.