On Wednesday I posted the first of five reviews of some recentl K&L exclusive casks. I very much liked that Bowmore 20, which was bottled in Douglas Laing’s Old Particular line. Today’s Mortlach is a couple of years older but was bottled under K&L’s own Faultline label. More than any K&L casks, those bottled in the Faultline series have proven the most disappointing. Then again, I had low expectations of Wednesday’s Bowmore as well and those were easily exceeded. Will that be true of this Mortlach as well?
Sherry cask Mortlach—which is the most common version—can be a bit of a bruiser. The distillery produces a meatier, rougher spirit—their production process uses old-fashioned worm tubs for the condensation step, and with lower copper content in worm tubs, the spirit retains more of a sulphurous character. This can be a bit of an acquired taste but once you acquire it, it becomes a very specific pleasure. And a good sherry cask can amplify those pleasures. Let’s see if that has happened here or if this will be a regression to K&L’s cask selection mean.
Mortlach 22, 1995 (53.3%; Faultline; first-fill sherry butt; from a bottle split)
Nose: Orange and dusty oak and a bit of rubber. The oak gets dustier and sharper as it sits; a little bit of red fruit emerges as well. The orange expands with a few drops of water but so does the oak.
Palate: Not as hot as I feared it would be from the nose but the oak is too tannic; it dominates the orange and nothing else of interest shows up to compensate. No change with time. Let’s see if water does anything for it. Nope.
Finish: Medium. The wood is the main story here along with indistinct alcoholic heat. The wood gets more bitter with water.
Comments: This is utterly ordinary, I’m afraid. It may be 22 years old but it’s not a good deal at $120 and it tastes like a young, over-oaked NAS whisky. Your mileage may vary. And there’s nothing very Mortlach about this: just garden variety sherried whisky. But there’s a good market for that. Me, I’d suggest buying a bottle of A’bunadh and saving some money.
Rating: 80 points.