Mortlach 16, 2018 Release


Okay, after a week of bourbons followed by a week of 20+ yo whiskies followed by a week of peated whiskies let’s maybe close out the month with no theme at all. This is the new’ish 16 yo from Mortlach. It’s all a bit hazy now but some years ago Diageo had suddenly put out a range of Mortlachs, including an 18 yo which replaced the old Flora & Fauna 16 yo (reviewed here). The original range was rather overpriced even by Diageo’s enthusiastic standards, especially considering the bottles were 500 ml. This must have been when everyone thought the market for single malt whisky was going to go through the roof in Asia and that the appetite for expensive whisky would be bottomless. Well, that second part isn’t entirely untrue but high prices on that Mortlach  range didn’t quite work out. Apart from the enthusiast crowd no one really had heard of Mortlach and the enthusiast crowd were not enthused by the high prices (£180 for the 18 yo). And then something rather unusual happened: Diageo withdrew that range and in 2018 relaunched the official Mortlach range with new whiskies at far more reasonable prices. This new 16 yo was part of that and was offered at less than half the price of the 18 yo. It’s matured in American and European oak sherry casks, a mix of first and refill. Let’s see what it’s like.

Mortlach 16, 2018 Release (43.4%; sherry cask; from a bottle split)

Nose: Very pleasant sherry notes with orange peel and apricot mixed in with leafy, salty notes and copper coins. There’s some cured meat behind and the brine gets stronger as it sits. Brighter with a splash of water, with more orange peel; less salty now.

Palate: As promised by the nose, on the whole, but the copper coins and meaty notes are to the fore and it’s less salty. This has a nice bite to it despite the low strength and that’s down to the more sulphurous spirit, I’d say. With time the citrus comes to the fore. Water integrates everything nicely and doesn’t do any damage to the texture; a little sweeter now.

Finish: Long. No new development. The leafy notes rise again at the end. Almost smoky with water.

Comments: Very nice sherried whisky of a non-cookie cutter type. This would be a good buy at a reasonable price—the $88 plus tax it’s going for in Minnesota might be pushing the top end of that a bit.

Rating; 87 points.

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