Let’s talk for a minute about butterfly kisses. They are “kisses” made by fluttering one’s eyelashes against another’s fluttering eyelashes or cheek. But seeing that butterflies lack eyelashes, and even eyelids, one wonders about the name. Such are my thoughts with a glass of Mortlach 16 in my hand. Can one receive butterfly kisses from an Iguana? What do you call butterfly kisses between creatures with nictating membranes? [Ed. This went on for a while.]
The nose on this sturdy dram is classic Mortlach. It’s braised ox tail, but not in a stew. It’s in a taco, with lime zested from the hide of an armadillo. We get seed pods after being harrowed by a burr grinder. In this way, there’s a dusty, vegetal quality that redounds with umami. In time it opens up like a Maillard reaction on a brown toffee crumble.
Ooh, this mouth! Again there are the sturdy, broad shoulders of the sort you find on a man you don’t mess with. A man who can handle himself, you think. But really it’s a gentle giant. We get blood oranges studded with completely spent cloves. There’s also eucalyptus leaves washed in lake water with the gentle, leathery hands of koalas. Mint and lemongrass macarons round this out with intriguing piquancy.
The finish folds all the spices of the mouth into a Pocket Operator™ by Teenage Engineering. [Stephen: uh, John? We’ve talked about how our ethics forbid product placements in our reviews. Bill: <spit take> Ethics? Ethics?!?] The thumping bass like a roux, the hi-hat and snare like hot peppers, and the mid-range toms serving as acoustic counterparts to okra and sausage—this is a gumbo dram. If this beast of Dufftown was a rugby player, you’d feel good about your chances in every match.
On the scale of giants that can handle themselves–
The Mortlach 16 Year Old is Bas Rutten, the Dutch MMA and kickboxing star. The stories of his bar fights are legend, and none can match his win-loss record. But he’s also a culinary chef, a father of three daughters, and has a dog named Speedy.
–Our thanks to Mortlach for the sample!