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Mortlach 18 yo (2016, OB, 43,4%)

In 2014 Diageo took one of its lesser known distilleries – at least for the wider audience – and decided to transform it into “the new Macallan”, a super-premium brand – completely out of nowhere. At first, there were many perplexities and concerns: Mortlach is a ‘dirty’ whisky, very much praised by the hardcore whisky fans (we may not be hardcore, but we like it ourselves: the very first dram to be reviewed here was a Mortlach) – hardcore whisky fans that started loving Mortlach thanks to the work of independent bottlers… And now this malt is thrown into another dimension, cool bottles, silver trims, half litres that cost a lot… Of course it’s a fully legitimate commercial operation, and we’ll see how it will work; for sure, it doesn’t sound perfectly right. As Silvio Berlusconi would have said, we’re “developing a taste for 18 years olds”, so after our #barelylegal week, we’re having another one: and it’s Mortlach 18 yo, official bottling, a bizarre 43,4% abv. Thanks to Andrea for the sample!

N: compact and solid, you feel a great interaction between spirit and casks. Let’s go in order: there’s an heavy and mature sweetness, made of delicate but exhuberant fruit, tinned peaches, ripe and juicy red fruits; then there’s a lot of caramel, creme caramel, a nice vanilla. There’s a sort of balsamic spiciness, with propolis and cough syrup, then something slightly mineral – just there to remind us what was Mortlach before the new core range.

P: good, with a nice texture, even if we’d love to taste it cask strength. There’s a lot of fruitiness, with apple skin, ripe peaches, caramel and some vanilla. This sweetness remains weirdly sharp, tending towards dry notes – there’s a woody sweetness, with overinfused tea, dried fruit (hazelnuts and walnuts). Again a slight minerality, with a distant hint of gunpowder.

F: long and lingering, quite dry, all on dried fruit, walnuts and some mineral notes.

It’s nice, we liked it, to be clear: 86/100. It seems suspended in the exact middle of an immediate sweetness, compact and quite pleasant and a woody and mineral complexity that doesn’t manage to fully shine. We won’t play as the “widows of old Mortlach”, we won’t complain since there are quite a few indie bottlers that keep pushing casks that still stink like oxtail soup. But hey!, this is a bottle to be sipped after a grueling golf match, together with a bored model – it must not be so easy to convince her that this oxtail-soup-stinking whisky is a great reason to come to bed with you, while we’re pretty sure that if you take out from the cabinet this very good looking bottle, full of mellow flavours, well, you’re in pole position. [We talked about Silvio, we needed to close this review playing tunes he loves].

Recommened soundtrack: Die Antwoord – Rich Bitch.

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