Tag Archive: Mortlach


Douglas Laing: Old Particular: Mortlach: 12 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 48.4% ABV)

Visual: Pale greened spirit with fast, thick streaks coming from it.

Nose: Oily peat. Nutty chocolate. Praline. Smooth vanilla toffee. Salt touch. Water makes peppery. Dry oak.

Body: Tangy alcohol. Tangy orange. Bready. Salt. Slightly oily. Dry oak. Water adds dry soot. Vanilla. Pepper. Pears. Oily coffee.

Finish: Soot. Sugared orange. Oak. Charring. Drying alcohol air. Water makes peppery and brings out oily coffee.

Conclusion: Mortlach is always an odd one. Well, I say always. I’ve tried it like, maybe three times before this. So, basically I say that as I am pretending to be more knowledgeable about the distilleries output than I actually am. Hopefully no one will see through this sham.

Initially oily and somewhat peaty the whisky shows decent weight and throws in a touch of what would normally be Island region salty character. Below that though is thicker oily nuts and chocolate against sweet sugared orange. It is one of those that defies easy classification under the whisky regions with Highland Weight, some Islay peat and plenty of fresh Speyside sweetness. Instead what defines it is that oiliness that takes everything else and makes it its own thing entirely.

Taken neat this is just weighty enough, has just enough Island sea feel, and just sweet enough for me. Ok, it is a bit alcohol touched and a bit rough edged, but it is very distinctive and makes for an interesting dram.

Water reduces the alcohol feel, but apart from that it doesn’t really help. It makes the whisky drier and more peppery, more astringent and loses a lot of the core oily weight. It is most notable in how the oily peat instead comes across as dry soot.

So, keep this one as one to enjoy neat. Take the rougher edges it has on the chin and enjoy. It is the unusual, oily dram that mixes in a bit from each whisky region to give a complex, rich experience. Not the best Mortlach I have had – the 16 year is still the standout for me, and that is considering I haven’t tried any particularly old or unusual expressions from the distillery – but it does enough that id say give it a go if you want to drip your toes into the Mortlach style.

Background: So, sixth time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! (I’m repeating myself so much that I’m starting to feel like San at the end of a bad run on Undertale …) These were donated to me by Independent Spirit for me to do notes on – much appreciated! Being a sample this is a smaller measure than normal, so may be slightly shorter notes that usual, not that I’m complaining. A quick google suggests this may be the 2006 distilled, 2018 bottled version. I could be wrong though. I’ve not had a huge amount of Mortlach but have always been intrigued by its strange style. Went with Jack Off Jill, Sexless Demons and Scars for music with this one. Such a great mix of anger and singing talent.

Tartan Mortlach 7 year

La Maison Du Whisky: Tartan : Mortlach 7 (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 7 Years: 40% ABV)

Visual: Very pale, coloured like apple juice.

Viscosity: Fast medium streaks.

Nose: Apples and pears. Fiery. Light oak. White wine. Water adds pepper and more pears, plus a note of cookie dough sweetness.

Body: Creamy. Tannins. Pepper and fire. Vanilla. Water adds more pepper and some oak. Slight cookie dough, white chocolate and banana comes out.

Finish: Oaken and pepper. Creamy. Very creamy coffee. Light apples. Cookie dough. Light nuts.

Conclusion: Young whisky is always interesting, as it seems to rely on having enough character to overcome the fire. This is quite surprising in that rather than matching the fire with a similarly intense flavour and sharp notes, it instead goes for a very restrained and mellow character.

Neat I didn’t find it very interesting, partially for that reason, it was quite peppery with a few traditional speyside pear and apple notes, but it was lost behind the fire. There was a slight white wine note, but not much so.

Water and time brings the whisky much more into balance, the water reins the fire in somewhat. There is now a soft sweetness that you can finally notice, a soft of soft cookie dough. It really is not intended as a huge whisky, the pepper spice still leads the whisky in and out, but you get more time with the relaxing mid point.

Here it is very easy going, very gentle, with just the right amount of water you get a light almost ethereal experience, where you get the delicate sweet and fruit notes. It calls to mind the light end of the cream liqueurs market with make spirit fruitiness.

I tend to be more towards the big and booming whisky, but given enough time this really grew on me – very well crafted for the gentle style, it feels like one that you could have over a long conversation and enjoy every moment. It needs just the right time, water and circumstance, but when you get it there is a fine whisky for that moment.

Background: It was 48 hours before Burn’s Night. So time for some whisky tasting at Independent Spirit. This was the first of five whiskys on offer that night. Due to it being a group tutored tasting this is much more likely to be influenced by other opinions due to the power of suggestivity. Still, a chance to try a bunch of new whisky was far too good to pass up.

Mortlach: 16 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky:16 Year: 43% ABV)

Visual: Very dark honeyed amber.

Viscosity: Thick heavy streaks, very slow as they pour out of the spirit.

Nose: Quite powerful and distinctly heavy. Heavy oak influence. Engine oil (Martin has helpfully suggested two stroke oil as the best comparison) Brown sugar, possibly caramelised. Syrup.  Water adds shortbread, pungent passion fruit that mellows to dried apricot with even more water.  The alcohol tingle does not diminish throughout.

Body: Crème Brulee, golden syrup. Beef and walnut. Slight sherried fruit. Raisins. Water brings more toffee and some kiwi.

Finish: Burnt oak, caramel. Milk chocolate, coffee. Water adds vanilla and nut oil.

Conclusion: Quite the powerhouse this one, thick and initially it seems quite enclosed only giving out its heavy notes that were hard to define. All thick and oil touches.  Each drop of water then opened it up adding subtle fruits and developing the detail on the oils. Making them distinct styles rather than generic punches.

It never stops feeling oily, which I must take to be the whiskys characteristic style, a strong flavour which includes black coffee and nut oils as resolute elements.

Heavy rounded and oily, though it is a heavyness of lingering flavour rather than Laphroaig style assault, in many ways reminds me of a coffee and nut cake take on a  whisky. A slow burn heavyweight.

Background: I’ve been hoping to try Mortlach for a while, it has a reputation as a hidden beast from speyside, and its influence on the Brewdog Mortlach Reserve beer was very well received.  Had as part of the visit to newfound pub with a fine whisky selection as described in the Dalmore Cigar Malt entry.

Brewdog: Mikkeller: Devine Rebel Mortlach Reserve 2008 (Scotland: Barley Wine: 12.5% ABV)

Visual: Fruitcake to black cherry coloured with a bubbling beige head.

Nose: Cherries, fruitcake, smoke and brandy.  Bitter chocolate, roasted nuts. Figgy pudding. Gin alcohol styling, quite bready as well. Sultanas. Almonds, or possibly a hint of marzipan. Shortbread.

Body:  Silk smooth but very strong. Fruitcake.  Dried apricots. Treacle and cherries. Blueberry crumble. Slight rock salt back and smoke. Port, raisins and toffee round it off.

Finish: Treacle. Dry mouth and slightly bitter. Light charring and cherries mix. Milk chocolate, and a white wine alcohol air.

Conclusion: So we come to this, after the harsh beast of 2010, and the more subtle 2009 original, we find the reserve edition of Devine Rebel.  This edition takes the style and smoothes it out, allowing the massive fruit flavours to jump out and surprise you

Fruity with whisky smoke just playing around the edges. It’s a beast, but now a controlled beast, tugging at the reigns as it wishes to break free. Definitely keeps the journey exciting. New flavours make themselves known with every sip.

Frankly the best incarnation to date of this devine (sic) beast. The fruit is huge, the alcohol obvious but not burning, and the whisky styling enwrapping an amazingly complicated core.

If this is the devine, I would become a happy studier of its theology.

Background: Bottle 80 of 1000 made. This whisky aged collaboration beer has had several releases before, two of which I’ve tried and found enjoyable if slightly harsh in the case of the 2010 release. The Mortlach Distillery of whisky is one that I’ve yet to try the products of so cannot compare to the spirit. I will openly admit I am not 100% unbiased on Brewdog beers, but do aim for it when it comes to tasting notes.

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