Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mortlach 16 Year Old Scotch Whisky Review:

When one hears the word, “Speyside,” if you are thinking about whisky, fragrant and floral notes seems to make their way into your mind. As is well known, Scotland is vast when it comes to distilleries. Yet in terms of flavor profiles we commonly think of its 4 to 5 regions and Speyside whiskies seem to be a prisoner to this notion just as equally as one would think of the peaty whiskies of Isla. However this concept, that all Speysiders taste the same, is one people are beginning to move away from. Mortlach 16 Year completely blows the hinges off this perspective. This old-world big bruiser of a Speyside has nothing to do with the fragrant and floral, and everything about the rich and meaty.

Possibly the heaviest and most outspoken character of the Speysiders, Mortlach holds one of the most unique distillation methods of any whiskey in Scotland.  Starting with the washbacks, even though all 6 can hold 90,000 liters of wort, they are only charged with 55,000 liters. With distillation, Mortlach uses what you could call partial triple distillation (technically 2.8). The only distillery in Scotland with such a practice, the spirit is finally condensed using five worm tubs made of larch and one made of stainless steel – this is where much of its potent nature originates from. And with this old style of production a spirit is created with a character that fits perfectly into the Johnnie blends (especially the black label) – which for a time made the obtaining of a bottle very difficult. So with my wife and I having the rare opportunity of visiting Scotland last summer, we grabbed a bottle at the Cardhu distillery before heading back to the States.

Mortlach 16 Year Old Scotch Whisky Review:

Price: Around £42.00 for a 750ml bottle.

Packaging/Labeling: The legendary Flora & Fauna label. It’s hard to dislike this on any level. You feel privileged to have such a bottle.

Alcoholic Content: 43% abv, 86 proof.

Nose: A large beefy nose – think of a syrupy stew or doughy pot pie. Tightly woven. Rummy with figs, sweet plum. 

Palate: Quickly lets its presence be known. Sherried panforte. Soft fruit cake. Drops off into a beautiful dry finish with a little smoke, pepper, and ginger spice.

Conclusion: Mortlach has been labeled a cult malt for good reason. It’s assertive and powerful in a place where elegant and graceful rule. It breaks all the rules by way of holding on to tradition. Of course we would love a cask strength or higher abv, but one cannot complain with this too much. All I can think about is how sad it will be when this bottle is gone. If you can get your hands on this, savor it. Take it slowly.

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