ABV: 56.2% Distillery: Mortlach Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society Flavour Profile: Old & dignified Region: SpeysideAge: 31
31 year old Mortlach that spent 28 year in an ex-bourbon hogshead before being transferred into a 2nd fill Moscatel barrique for a decent length of finishing period. Bottled at 56.2% ABV and with an initial RRP of £315.
Nose: Well-named – there’s certainly sherry rancio here – it’s part sweet and sticky (red berries, plums, raisins, and peanut butter) and part drawn from a by-gone era – musty cellars, wet soils and clays – ancient and unearthed. Woodiness is as polished as you’d expect from three decades of maturation – ebony and mahogany. In the background, almonds (marzipan), black pepper and rye bread. Water brings out sweetness – raspberry coulis, pan fried figs and crystalline brown sugars.
Taste: Rich, sweet and spicy – chocolate sauce and orange peels are joined by boot polish, anise and cinnamon. Dank cellars and wet soils sit with reduced red and black berries, whilst toffee sauce and sponge cake are deepened by smouldering tobacco. Reduction brightens things up greatly – redcurrant jelly and white pepper alongside charred cask ends.
Finish: Long, but sharp and bitter with balsamic and jagged oak tannins. Burnt toffee and charred wood fading slowly.
Well-aged Mortlach is always a pleasure to taste and this is no exception – there’s a ton of depth and character here, backed up by a strong vein of dank sherry. Sadly though, it’s not all a match made in heaven – the finish has taken on far too much of both casks and presents as fairly acerbic and spikey – in stark contrast to the rest of the experience which is silky and well-judged. Very tasty stuff without a doubt, but at £315 I’m not just expecting age, I’m expecting poise and balance throughout.
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