Bought: Morrison & Mackay, 21st June 2017
81/100 – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)
6/10 – Whisky Loving
This Mortlach 2006, 20cl, forms part of the Càrn Mòr Vintage Collection produced by the Scottish Liqueur Centre (now Morrison & Mackay) between 2009 and 2012. Distilled in 2006 and bottled in 2012 (c.6yo), it was the second 20cl to represent the year of 2006. The first was a Glentauchers issued in 2009. Mortlach 2006 is a limited edition of 720, cask 9, non-chill filtered, no added colour and 46%.
Although this small bottle of Mortlach came out in 2012 it’s still available on the Morrison & Mackay website for a mere £10. It’s also being sold at Robert Graham and Whisky Castle so it goes to show how long 720 bottles can sometimes take to sell. Perhaps it’s the presentation, 20cl size, or coming from a less known independent bottler that’s kept it lingering on the shelves for so long.
Mortlach has its fans so why hasn’t this bottle sold out? I strongly suspect it’s because of its light colour, which screams ‘refill cask’. What makes Mortlach delightful is spending time in a first-fill sherry cask, soaking up all those wonderful fruity juices and acquiring a beautifully rounded flavour. Seeing a light Mortlach doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, you just know it’s not going to be as good as it can be.
81/100 on Whiskybase from one member is a good score but 6/10 from Whisky Loving seems rather low. They say of the palate “rough notes. Citrus and some orchard fruits. Fruity and sweet. Vanilla and almost floral notes”. They also mentioned vanilla on the nose, which makes me slightly concerned that it comes from an ex-bourbon barrel. My book on distilleries, published in 2010, makes no mention of ‘vanilla’ in the house style of Mortlach and says they exclusively use ex-sherry casks. But there have been some ex-bourbon releases recently from independent bottlers that suggest Mortlach are now mixing their barrels. It’s a shame the cask type used for this Mortlach 2006 wasn’t disclosed but it is what it is. For me it’s my 24th and final bottle to complete the Càrn Mòr Vintage Collection. Phew!
Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 20th May 2015
83/100 – Malt Maniacs (based on 1 member vote)
The last Mortlach I blogged about was a 2014 distillery bottling called ‘Rare Old’. I didn’t think the term was unique to Mortlach but this bottle from the 1980s has got me wondering. Bottled by Gordon & MacPhail (G&M), on the label under ‘Mortlach’ is printed ‘Rare Old’. Yes, I’m sure you’re as excited as I am about this discovery! But it’s not old, it’s 12, and I doubt it’s very rare. According to my distillery book Mortlach has 6 stills and a capacity of 3.6 million litres. Divide 3.6m litres by my 5cl miniature and you get … not rare!
Finding any rating online was difficult but 83/100 from one Malt Maniac sounds like a pleasant enough dram. The house style for Mortlach is ‘full body, complex, sherry, spices, nuts and a hint of smoke.’ Sounds very nice! A full bottle (75cl) from the 1980s sold at auction for £60 (July 2015).
Bought: The Whisky Shop, 18th November 2014
79/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
77.76/100 – Whiskybase (average from 146 member votes)
Another whisky bought because I like the bottle shape. If I’d checked the reviews first I might have talked myself out of it. All Jim Murray says in his Whisky Bible is “not rare enough” and his score of 79/100 ranks this malt as “average and usually pleasant though sometimes flawed”.
I’m a bit reluctant to include the score from Whiskybase because one member rates this Mortlach 19/100 with the comment “bargain”. That sounds like a complement, which suggests the 19 was a mistake (perhaps they meant 91?). Now there have been 146 votes, nearly 78/100 is probably fair. Comments include “plain and simple”, “very average quality. Way too expensive for what you get”, “all in all nothing offensive but quite underwhelming” and “a surprising character. The tastes and smells are well integrated and play off of each other well.”
In defence of this non aged-statement Mortlach, it scores 4/5 stars on The Whisky Exchange from 8 reviews, and 4/5 on Master of Malt from 5 votes, suggesting it’s not as bad as initial ratings imply, but these still equate to 80/100 so similar to the Whisky Bible and Whiskybase.
Perhaps not a whisky to wow the taste buds but if you like having your booze on display, the bottle is certainly very aesthetically pleasing. I’m sure I’ll have this Mortlach sitting on a shelf for many years, looking good and gathering dust. Then in 30 years when it’s genuinely rare and definitely old, I’ll drink it!
Here’s Ben of ‘A Dram A Day’ with his thoughts about the Rare Old on YouTube (December 2016):
Bought – Whisky Galore, 1st August 2013
85/100 – Whiskybase (average from 12 member votes)
A Gordon & MacPhail bottling which always implies a certain level of quality. I did find a video on YouTube in German where the reviewer finishes by saying “wunderbar!” Since he wasn’t sitting in a ‘wonderful bar’ at the time, my school boy German is telling me he liked the Mortlach. I’ll have to see if he’s right!
85/100 on Whiskybase is an excellent score. Comments include “fruity aromas with delicate hints of smoke and vanilla that give it a playful whole. The character is nicely balanced and mild, the palette consists of oak with slight
sherry notes and hints of truffle oil” and “very rewarding and highly recommended. Interesting with and without water.”