Mortlach – 18 Year Old – 1995 – C&S Dram Collection – Cask #4121 – Single Malt Scotch Whisky | 56.2% (112.4 Proof)
Color/Appearance: Pale gold. This Speyside whisky was matured in a bourbon hogshead for eighteen long years. I know very little about this independent bottler, but certainly the whisky is non-chill-filtered and features natural color. This bottle design is truly awful. I know that means basically nothing, but I still mention it for a great bottle can enhance the drinking and owning experience. As whisky drinkers we should ignore these non important details but as humans we can’t. I still get some satisfaction looking at a great looking bottle in my cabinet. Wish I was a purist enough to say it wasn’t a factor but it is. Though in this case I just have a tiny sample I ordered from the fine folks at Whiskybase. Hopefully this single dram will result in some sort of review, lets see.
Nose: Pears, peaches, figs, and caramel. Holy shit this smells great. Sorry to swear but the creamy exotic fruit thing is very awesome. Figs and more figs. An apple tart covered in caramelized figs with a creamy glaze. A glass of grape juice, exotic women’s perfume and musk. Oh my! Damn you small sample bottle.
Palate: Liquid sunshine. Warm malt cooked down in a fruit compote. Drips of pure sugar and honey. Apricots, grapes, apple, and vanilla. Then a little grassy freshness percolates through, lifting it up and keeping things moving nicely. Really, the palate compliments the nose rather well, not mirroring it exactly, but giving a little bit of a counterpoint. Delicious stuff.
Finish: A spritz of tangerine peel, limestone, sandalwood, and oak. A long tingling sensation of warmth and vibrancy. Turns a little dry and slightly bitter at the end. Really that minor bitterness is one of the few things holding this back.
Overall: At eighteen years old this cask strength beauty is really starting to show the charms of the high quality Mortlach distillate. It is also my first taste of Mortlach and I am already impressed. This whisky is showing some great development as the bourbon cask and spirit are well integrated. A properly aged bourbon cask whisky can really be a thing of beauty, bringing a multitude of bright fruit and its own form of sweetness that merges with the whiskies own maltiness to give wonderful complexity. It goes without saying that if you find an eighteen year old cask strength Mortlach you can pretty much buy it on the spot. I have a refill sherry aged one in the cabinet waiting to be opened and after this little tasting session I am sure that I will be popping it very soon. With the recent premium-ization of the official Mortlach brand, finding this distilleries whisky from independent bottlers is really the only option. I have heard wonderful things about the actual liquid contained in these new official expressions, but all but the lowest level and curiously named “Mortlach Rare Old” are way out of my price range. Maybe someday I will meet the lovely Georgie Bell and get a chance to taste them and see for myself. Till then I will probably just keep my eye out for some more independent bottles.