Mortlach 11yo 1992/2004 (46%, Douglas McGibbon, Provenance, Autumn/Summer, DMG 627)

Talisker Storm is essentially a young Whisky, one of today’s NAS-expressions. A decade ago, this 11yo Mortlach would be considered a young Whisky and back then we hardly ever heard of NAS-Whiskies to boot. Mortlach is known for its unique distilling regime where the Whisky in the bottle was distilled 2.6 times. Mortlach is also known for dark and dirty Sherry bottlings. Mostly first fill and Oloroso. Just have a look at this Wilson & Morgan Mortlach. So Mortlach fits in the group of Macallan (of old), Aberlour, Glendronach and Longmorn.

However, here we have a rather pale expression of Mortlach bottled by Douglas Laing, from the time Fred and Stewart were still running a business together. Douglas Laing had essentially three series of bottlings. Provenance, Old Malt Cask and Old & Rare (better known as the Platinum-bottlings). There were some more, but lets stick to these three better known ones, shall we? Provenance was mostly reduced to 43% and later 46%, Old Malt Cask to 50% (if possible) and generally older and more special. Finally Old & Rare-expressions were cask strength en even older still (and extra special). Maybe there are some exceptions but in my mind all were single cask bottlings. Here we’ll try a young and very pale Mortlach from the least expensive series of the three. Young-ish and reduced.

mortlach-provenance-11yo-1992-2004Color: White Wine.

Nose: Fresh, soft and fruity. Some barley and definitely some citrus notes. Very fresh and “summery”. Hints of bread, mocha and nuts, but also a chewy, green oaky note. Vegetal. Green leaves and perfumy. Hints of dishwater and latex paint as well, which really isn’t as bad as it sounds. Powdery and dusty, in part like the smell of old books, some leather and cold gravy. Warm butter and vanilla pudding. Quite a lot happening here, and a bit dirty alright. Although all of the aroma’s I’m picking up here, are pretty different, the whole is well-balanced. They mix together well. Mortlach is known for a meaty element (from Sherry casks), but that is lacking here.

Taste: Barley again and a lot of the vegetal, green and oak notes. Chewy again and it has a short sharp edge from the oak. It’s almost like virgin oak this, with a bite. A little bitter woody bite. Don’t think now this is a bitter Whisky, because it isn’t. The bite itself is extremely short, leaving room for a very soft and mellow Whisky. Cannabis and vanilla. Creamy, with cookie dough and chocolate-chip cookies as well. Sweet(ish) and fruity. The taste of this Mortlach is less complex than the nose. Judging by the color, the cask didn’t seem all that active, but it did impair a lot of the woody notes, so it probably was an easy pick when considering bottling a younger Whisky. Hey, but it’s not all (soft) wood notes, there is also some coconut, nutty and creamy aroma’s. (something you can also find in some Glen Keith‘s matured in ex-Bourbon casks). It’s fruity as well. Medium nutty and creamy finish, with hints of cannabis (the first time around). With a medium bitter aftertaste giving the whole experience some backbone.

Mortlach is known as a dirty, meaty Sherried Whisky. However, this probably came from an American oak cask that previously held Bourbon. So does the meaty part come from the Sherry then? Well not entirely. Especially on the nose, the distillate, without the influence of (Oloroso or PX) Sherry casks, still shows a meaty aroma. Cold gravy I called it, and dirty. It doesn’t taste as a dirty meaty Mortlach to me though. Remarkably soft, and pretty decent overall, yet nothing special as well.

Points: 81

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Mortlach 10yo 1989/2000 (57.2%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection)

…and here is my second entry for our Genietschap gathering. Yesterday I reviewed an older expression of the ‘standard’ 16yo Flora and Fauna, and that was pretty good!

This Wilson & Morgan bottle was the opener of the day. Chosen for that reason because it was the youngest one.

Color: Copper Brown.

Nose: Yeah Baby! Heavy thick Sherry, meaty, but without the harshness and without the Sulphur! What a character and that at only 10yo. Raisins. Tarry and dry. Nice and you can even call this fresh and perfumy.

Taste: oh yeah (again!). Dry Sherry (at first) with tar and coal, than sweeter with a peppery attack. The coal, fabulous, just an old steam locomotive in here, and warm asphalt. Again there is nothing off here, not much wood, no sulphur and not harsh.

Very nice play between a sour and sweet note in the finish (amongst others some orange peel). It’s not only very good, but very interesting as well.

Would I have known it then, this would have been bought by the case! I’ll do something bold here, and score this young one at least…

Points: 90

Mortlach 16yo “Flora & Fauna” (43%, OB, L19T00187153, Circa 2002)

This saturday Het Genietschap had another gathering. This time at Jos’. Jos usually has one and the same theme: “lets enjoy any whisky”. This time, like last year, he choose a single distillery theme. Last year he choose Strathisla, after we found some nice Strathisla’s at Max Righi’s shop.

One of the other gems he found there, was a very old 20yo Sestante Mortlach, so the theme for this year soon became Mortlach. I have to admit, I really love a tasting with a single distillery theme, especially when a lot of bottles are brought in. Strange enough that was not the case with Strathisla, but with Mortlach we had 14 of them, and an extensive aftertasting with some other gems. (Laphroaig 10yo unblended bottled in the mid 70’s!).

So I brought two Mortlachs, this one being one of them. This is a Flora and Fauna bottling from ten years ago, and as was proven to me, there can be quite a difference between bottlings in this series. So it would be great to compare this to the most recent version of this. Without further ado:

Color: Orange

Nose: The nose explodes in the glass, and can be smelled from afar. Nice rich sherry, very balanced and warming. There is some coal in there, as is some asphalt, tar and some smoke. A small hint of mint. Slightly perfumy and powdery. Some added lemon peel freshness with vanilla. Not overly complex, but an instant hit.

Taste: Chewy sherry, sweet and very likable. Very smooth. Perfect balance. Small amount of woody bitterness to counterpart the sweetness, but the latter wins. This is a grown (wo)man’s lemonade. Dangerously easy drinkable. Inside the sweetness also some licorice, tar and sugared almonds can be found. The finish is the same and slowly dies away. Late in the finish there is, and dare I say this: pineapple. Very balanced and well made.

This is just a perfect Flora & Fauna bottling. Maybe just a tad too sweet, but that depends on your mood. This bottle is very nice, but at the moment I can’t vouch for more recent bottlings. When I have a chance to taste a more modern one, I’ll write a comment, so watch out for that in the future.

Points: 88