This Mortlach is a K&L exclusive selection via Chieftain’s. With characteristic understatement they inform that this is the best Mortlach they’ve ever found or ever will find again (every exclusive sold at K&L seems to be in that range); alas, with similarly characteristic lack of attention to detail they also say that the majority of Mortlach sold in the US by independent bottlers is from bourbon casks. Well, while there do seem to be a few recent releases from bourbon hogsheads and barrels of late, I can think of three sherried selections from Signatory and G&M for Binny’s alone in the last few years, and the somewhat dangerous 15 yo from G&M that’s the most ubiquitous Mortlach in the US is also sherried. In other words, sherried Mortlachs are not such unknowns in the US. Once again, accuracy loses to enthusiasm in K&L’s marketing.
But is this Mortlach better than all of those? Let’s see.
Mortlach 22, 1990 (58.1%, sherry butt 5160; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Ah yes, this is good stuff. Intense raisins, caramel and maple syrup with the savoury notes–meat stock and soy sauce–following. A strong rye note too and a bit of pencil lead. Gets richer and fruitier with time–apricots and oranges–and sweeter too (dark brown sugar). After more time, a fair bit saltier. Seems to get drier with water.
Palate: Rich, velvety texture; very drinkable at full strength. And a classic sherry bomb–like the very best A’bunadhs but without any of the rawness or spiritiness of youth. I know this is from a sherry cask but it’s really quite reminiscent of older bourbons and ryes like the George T. Stagg or the Sazerac 18. Strong notes of clove and cinnamon along with the raisins, maple syrup etc.. Very little oak and no smoke at all. Gets sweeter as it sits and oddly, unlike on the nose, water emphasizes the sweetness. I certainly find it far sweeter than David Driscoll in his more extended notes on K&L’s Spirits Journal blog.
Finish: Long and mostly as on the palate, with the syrup and clove notes hanging on. Gets drier with water.
Comments: Really quite good. This seems more like a PX than oloroso cask, but it doesn’t say on either the sample bottle or on K&L’s site or in David D.’s writeup. What keeps it out of the 90s for me is the absence of a counterpoint to the increasingly intense dark sweet notes, especially on the palate. Just a touch more oak or some smoke would have put this over the top. It is really very good though and may even be the best Mortlach I’ve had too; so in that sense I guess I agree with David D.–I just wish he could give us the stuff that’s accurate without clouding it with other irrelevant crap. Now, is it worth $169? I dunno–I might have to think about it though.
Thanks to Tim R. for the sample!
Rating: 89 points.