A circle that closes after a very long curve: our first review was a Mortlach 16 yo Flora & Fauna, at that time the only official bottling from a distillery in the Diageo portfolio which had always been operating in the darkness, providing with its distillate rich in personality a full-bodied base for blended whiskies. Then, after leaving the foggy port of blended whiskies thanks to many excellent indie bottlings that had revealed the very special character of the Dufftown distillery, suddenly the madness: in 2014 Diageo decided to turn Mortlach into a luxury brand and launched four half-liter bottles priced from 60 euros (NAS) to 600 euros (25 yo). Not for anyone, so the series doesn’t seem to have sold very well. In fact, already in mid-2018 came the turn around, with the release of a new core range looking definitely more traditional: a 12 yo, a 16 yo and a 20 yo generously placed in 70 cl bottles and priced from 50 to 200 euros.
We noticed a curious diatribe about the fluctuating quality of the various batches of today’s 16 yo, so we refer to the review of whiskynotes. Those who are passionate about the story should know that the one in our glass is batch L8283DM002.
N: very open, pleasant, rich and with a paradoxical ‘heavy’ freshness. Many citrus fruits in evidence, especially orange, blood orange peel, even a bit of marmalade. Figs, very intense and sweet, fragrant (here too, there is also fig jam); also peaches (are we monotonous if we say peach jam?). Pineapple in syrup. A little leather. Fruity hookah tobacco. Underneath everything, there is a strong note of malt, of cereal.
P: the entrance seems weak, but it’s just an impression because it becomes mouth wrapping and very intense. Still warm and fruity, very fruity, all on yellow/orange nuances: the main note is still fig, in every form, then there is a nice citrus (orange, slightly bitter peel), very ripe mango. And then… forget the sulphurous and fleshy notes of Mortlach, make way for a strong note of cereal malt, sweet, warm but slightly ‘dusty’. Wood, maybe a little bit of pine needles.
F: long, intense, very consistent, still with figs and malt and orange. Honey. Excellent, with a thousand reflections of flavor.
On the neck of the bottles of this Distiller’s Dram series is written: “The beast of Duffotwn”. A charming nickname that Mortlach has earned thanks to a very robust new make spirit, with a peculiar fleshy and sulphurous note, almost unique in the Scotch whisky scene. On the contrary, when you approach this 16 years ago forget about meat broth, sauces and gravy and imagine a very elegant whisky. Which, despite being fruity and sugary, remains incredibly balanced, even polite considering we’re talking about a Mortlach. Among its merits there are certainly a fullness and richness rarely encountered at a such reduced abv. We applaud it and we assign a 88/100, a rather surprising rate, to be true. If you are intrigued, the price is around 80 euros.
Recommended soundtrack: Milt Buckner – The Beast.