Early May I was invited to the Mortlach Benelux Release Dinner in Brussels where I, along with about 40 other invitees, were introduced to the new range under the skillful guidance of the lovely Georgie Bell. Six weeks later a box was delivered containing samples of the tried expressions so I could re-taste them in the serenity of my whisky basement. Time to try the Rare Old, 18 Year Old and 25 Year Old again, starting with the Rare Old. If I understood Georgie correctly, three types of spirit were used (delicate, medium and meaty) as well as different types of wood: first fill American and European oak as well as refill and rejuvenated casks.
The first time I put my nose in the glass I get mostly sweet malt with loads of floral elements. Think grain cookies, sultanas and a hint of sniffing tobacco. Some earthy notes which are quite common in Mortlach. Light butter. Some bergamot oil and vanilla. Lastly some oak. Pleasant enough nose.
The kick to the teeth upon arrival is quite suprising. Plenty of spices: pepper, cinnamon and some ginger. The sweetness comes from honey and sultanas, but also some orange peel. Touch of leather. Turns a bit dry. The vanilla evolves towards caramel. After the pleasant nose, I had expected a bit more to be honest.
The finish is medium long on spices from the wood with some sweet caramel at the death.
A bit of a brute, this Rare Old. You have to like this type of malt, I guess. I do, which makes it worth my while. But once you realize a 50cl bottle will set you back about 70 EUR, you do raise your eyebrows for a moment.