We are, predictably enough, huge fans of Mortlach. For me, it started when a Master Distiller, who was leading me through his company’s warehouses, patted a cask of Mortlach as he walked past it and told me that Mortlach was a favorite of many distillers. Needless to say, that got my attention. Since then, the whisky itself has continued to hold my attention.
For this NAS expression, we know that this whisky combines liquid that was matured in four different kinds of casks: first fill ex-Bourbon casks, first fill ex-Sherry butts, refill casks, and rejuvenated casks. What does this tell us about the whisky? Not much that we’d be looking to find out before we tasted it, anyway, since being fully informed when tasting just ain’t how we roll.
On the nose, we got dust that settled on a duchess’s bureau. It’s reserved like a Presbyterian elder during an internecine quarrel. Coax it out of the glass, however, and it’s glorious: cinnamon coating a buckwheat tuile used to garnish a canelle of full-fat chervil ice-cream. It’s like aviating through a lemon fog in a biplane, relying only on echolocation and geomancy. The overall effect is that of a serene milk cow staring at you from the background of an Andrew Wyeth painting, only muskier, earthier, grainier, and farmy-er. Of the three new expressions, we liked the nose on this one the best.
On the mouth, it’s syrupy, and also a bit cloying, but in a positive way, like Jennifer Lawrence on my arm. There are also notes of caramel, but they hide coquettishly under the many-layered skirts of heat we got on the mouth. Tannins, some drying, some black tea-like, gingerly play in there somewhere as well. The mouthfeel is a tad oily, like from a flame-grilled unagi roll with slightly dry rice in it. The finish has a spice carryover from the mouth and some firm tannins lingering around, but also some sweetness fading quickly, but clearly there nonetheless. It is both noteworthy and graceful, albeit neither as long nor as happy as that of the other two expressions. Think Humphrey Bogart at the end of Casablanca, after he’s had to put Ingrid Bergman on the plane, but before Major Strasser shows up.