"A difficult whisky to score due to the big impact of the cask leading to a overly woody, spicy and sour spirit that suppresses the Mortlach richness"
(Photo from Whiskybase)
Mortlach is one of the distilleries that has assembled a large following among whisky enthusiasts based on their past bottlings with the 16 year-old Flora & Fauna forming a prime example. The commercialisation of the brand onto the premium level raised many eyebrows because of decreasing quality accompanied by large increases in pricing. Lately, Diageo has acknowledged its mistaken arrogance with the brand and returned to whisky that is much more reasonably priced and, what I read, has recovered much of its former quality. Luckily for the fans, independent bottlers did not stop with releasing high quality Mortlach in the mean time and captured many enthusiasts with charms of Mortlach’s richness and meatiness. Adelphi has released several bottles of Mortlach that received much praise, including the one from 1993 that I will be tasting today. In fact, Dave Broom called it a whisky that “does not come along very often” rated it with a whopping 95 points, and one of his favourites from 2018. Not that I do not believe Dave (and other reviewers), but I just had to find out for myself what the fuss was about.
The expected Mortlach meatiness is present right at the start, which is good, along with a woody spiciness. After a few moment more fruits appear, in particular some tangerines. I must say that the initial development is very promising. It brings a more sweeter side forward, with strawberry-flavoured marshmallows and nougat, which is mixed with hot peppers, mint tea, more wood spices, some slightly cheesy scents like a good dessert cheese, and more sweet fruits like peaches. The nose continuously seems to switch between spicier and sweeter side, which makes it very intriguing in the beginning. I also get notes of ginger and lemongrass. Ultimately it sticks with the wood spices and lemon grass-ginger combo, no further development noticeable. Water brings a creamier side with lemon-flavoured with thick cream covered with a few drops of fresh lemon juice.
There is orange zest, mint, and lots and lots of spices. Luckily, it develops towards a creamier side, like the nose. I get some chocolate, chocolate cream, tobacco, hot peppers, again this is spicy, white pepper, some cardamon, a hint of ginger, a hint of koriander, and a bag of spicy nuts. The spices do not give way, more wood comes forward, in particular polished wood, and it becomes more citrussy, starting with lemon cream, but towards lemon grass. A hint of bitterness, I would say something like fresh ginger. It is also slightly drying. With water, the bitterness is pronounced, although there is still a wonderfully fresh feeling in between the wood. Although, more and more citrus fruits are appearing and it is really getting slightly too sour.
It is a difficult one to score, this heavily wooded Mortlach from Adelphi. The cask has had a big influence on the end result, and I do not get toomuch of the rich Mortlach quality that I like so much. This has been a very enjoyable dram for me with a enjoyable beginning followed by an initially interesting development, but after a while it just really becomes tiring. I mean, the wood influence of a cask can enhance the spirit, I admit I had some great examples, but I also noticed that it can make the whole lean towards a more sour side, which s not really my thing. I believe this is a whisky that can interest me for a few sips, but I would never buy a bottle, and I am not even looking at the price yet. But that is just the opinion of this humble blogger, others have been raging about this one.
Big thanks to for sharing the sample!
• these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •