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Mortlach is referred to by some as a "Beefy Malt". The person who sparked my interest in Scotch had gifted me a bottle of Diageo's Rare Malts series. That's a 22 year old distilled in 1972 clocking in at just over 65%. Thing is, he gave me one bottle.
Now it just makes sense that I not make that my first taste of Mortlach. So my plan has always been to find a few independents and get a taste for it before finding a special occasion to take the plunge. With the introduction of the new (and worrisome) OBs, I thought I'd better act soon. This is my first try.
In December I was in Calgary and saw this bottle a few times. But at nearly $100 I balked. But it turns out you can't get cheap Mortlachs in Canada. Last weekend brought my brother in law to Toronto and so before he came I asked him to pick up a bottle. Last night we sat down and opened it. Tonight I'm going to try to review it.
This is a G&M bottling exclusive to COOP. They squeezed out 271 cask strength 700 cc bottles from a refill sherry hogshead (Distilled Nov or Dec 1998 and bottled June 2012). I did the math and I suspect it was the entire contents of the cask minus a few sips for the Angels.
Cask number 14454 was bottled with no added colour and no chill filtration. Good start. The bottle has been open approximately 24 hours and was sprayed after each use. I did impressions first neat and then with a few drops of water, leaving it to open up for 10 minutes., and will describe my findings in the traditional manner:
Visually, this does not look like a sherried malt. It's a similar color to my Laphroaig Quarter Cask. Makes me wonder just how many times the hogshead was "refilled".
Nose: Neat - spirity. thin. Not much other than vanilla. A touch of green apple. After a few sniffs, raspberry (fresh). No hint of sherry. Nothing to draw me in. Water - Perhaps the faintest whiff of sherry- raspberry is still there. Touch od sulfur? Something musty? Vanilla is gone.
Palate: Neat - hot on the tip of the tongue. Sweet. A little sour on the sides of the tongue. Some bitterness. Warm vanilla. Water - It tastes like Scotch, but I'm having a hard time teasing out any specific or remarkable flavours. It's a little less sweet. Still has vanilla.
Finish Neat - short, unremarkable. Water - I'm getting a little red wine on the finish, which remains short, but nothing that says "Sherry was here".
I really, really wanted to love this whisky. I wanted to like it so I could say "aha! This is why XXXX liked whisky and why he gave his bottle of rare malt to me". I wanted to want to ask my brother in law to snap up a couple more for me before they are gone forever.
I don't love this whisky. Looking at the composite mark I realize it looks worse than it is. I don't hate this whisky. It's not bad. I do like it. It's interesting. But I don't think it's spectacular. Looking at the reviews I've rated in the low 80s I'd probably choose one of them before this one.
What's good? Cask strength NCF, no caramel. I do like it. The flavours improve with time in the glass, but it's like a steamed potato. Good, but nothing spectacular. Nothing to recommend it over other drams.
And I have to say this...Did the spirit really spend all its formative years maturing in a sherry cask? You could have fooled me...
I will enjoy sharing this one with other interested parties. I enjoyed putting together this review, and I've learned some things that will help with future reviews.
I do want to try other Mortlachs. I'd like to do it before I crack the special bottle. So I will by more. But not this one.