Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mortlach - hit or miss?

Mortlach is a distillery that has caught my eye with some excellent bottles in the past and also caught my eye with some, well, not so excellent bottles. I know several whisky enthusiasts who have Mortlach among their top distilleries, but for me so far it's been either hit or miss. It's been a while since I had a Mortlach - time to put that right with one of the most popular releases from the Flora & Fauna series, the 16 year old Mortlach, which I actually never tried before. I bought this bottle in 2010 at Blair Athol Distillery and at the time they had plenty. Those days are surely over... For good measure let's oppose it to another youngish Mortlach, a 1991 from Gordon & MacPhail.
Mortlach, 1991/2004, Gordon&MacPhail, 10th Anniversary bottling for Danish wine shop Vinens Verden, Slotsgade, cask 7863, refill sherry, 43%
Ok, the colour suggests that it is indeed a sherry cask. Unfortunately caramel has probably been added so nothing to read from that and besides, what does colour tell us about the quality of a whisky? You're right, absolutely nothing!
Nose: boiled fruits, lemonade and figs. Then comes some dark notes of sweet cherries. Add to that orange peel and apple pie and you have an entertaining albeit not spectacular nose.
Taste: Again boiled fruits, also dried fruits and some citrus. Not really complex and fades a bit fast but hey, it's well made and has no flaws.
Rating: 81
Mortlach 16yo, Flora & Fauna, 43%
Nose: starts on candied apples and apple juice, peach and walnuts. Orange notes of dried oranges, delicious fruits at full speed forward. Very confident and lively. After a few minutes coffee and sugar join the party. Let's see how this one tastes.
Taste: first some sherry followed by dark coffee and a little unexpected peat! Dried fruits, orange chocolate and prunes. Gets drier in the medium length finish that ends in dark chocolate, flint and bonfire smoke.
Surely a fine dram which I' sure would have hit a couple of extra marks had it been bottled at, let's say, 50 %.
Rating: 87
Concluding comments: These two Mortlachs are not in amongst the best I've tasted from this distillery, nor are they in the hat with the not so good Mortlachs that have come my way. Let us say that they are in the group of the interesting and entertaining Mortlachs which is not bad.


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