Mortlach 2021 Special Release 13yo & Hunter Laing & Co. Mortlach 14yo First Editions


We're back looking at one of our favourite distilleries, the beast of Dufftown, Mortlach.

Mortlach 2021 Special Release 13yo

Region: Speyside

ABV: 55.9%

Price: £139.00

Produced from casks that were distilled in 2007, this 13-year-old Mortlach has been matured in a combination of virgin and refill American oak casks, before being bottled as part of Diageo's 2021 Special Releases.

Nose

Chalk, white bread, a hint of vanilla sweetness. The nose is restrained, and a little disappointing to be honest. Leaving it in the glass, we’re finding cereals notes, fresh banana, honey and pine trees. It feels a little one dimensional, it’s like the character of the spirit has been lost and we’re only just getting some mellow cask influence. Going back we’re getting some desiccated coconut, wet pebbles and lemon peels.

Palate

The palate brings sugar syrup to the forefront, then quickly moves to salted caramel, ginger and black pepper spice as it transitions into the medium length finish. It doesn’t taste cask strength, it feels around the 46% mark. We’re also finding apple, toffee, melon balls and a bit of chilli heat towards the latter part of the palate. The mouthfeel is fine, nothing to write home about really. As we give it more air, we’re getting sponge cake, pear tart and a little bit of buttery brioche bread.

Nose (with water)

More mineral forward, orange, more ginger spice and some barley sugars coming through too. We’re also getting a little nuttiness coming through now, almonds and cashews mainly. It’s helped to open the nose up slightly, but we’re still finding it quite restrained.

Palate (with water)

More sugar syrup, lemon boiled sweeties, toffee, salted caramel rounding off with some orange marmalade. Water seems to have brought a bit more out of this, and there’s some toasted oakiness appearing towards the finish.

Conclusion

We wanted more oomph, a bit more Mortlach bite, but what we got was mellow and one dimensional. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not offensive, and feels pleasant enough on the nose and palate. We can’t really say we’d go back for another dram, we’d rather try some of the more interesting independently bottled Mortlachs that are out there.

Score: 6/10


Hunter Laing & Co. Mortlach 14yo First Editions

Region: Speyside

ABV: 55.9%

Price: £83.00

Released by independent bottler Hunter Laing, this Mortlach was matured in a sherry butt for 14 years, before being bottled in 2022 as part of its First Editions series.

Nose

Red currants, ketchup, Christmas cake without the icing and prunes. There’s something that reminds us of smoke here too. Leaving it in the glass for a while, the dram develops with strawberry laces, roasted figs, red kola and nutmeg in the background. It’s sherry forward whilst maintaining a nice balance of sweet, sour, meatiness and spice. We’re also finding some cinnamon and caramel when we go back to it.

Palate

We’re met with a hit of sweeter sherry notes, raisins, red kola in abundance, creme caramel and freshly squeezed orange juice. It’s got some milky chocolate, Caramac bars, apricots and vanilla riding through to the medium length finish. The mouthfeel is ok, not super oily or textured, but we’re willing to let that slide as the dram delivers in a host of other dimensions. Saying that, it’s slightly chewy (like chewits), and we find ourselves chewing on the whisky long after we’ve swallowed it.

Nose (with water)

Water brings out a bit more meatiness on the nose, some rusty copper pennies, darker chocolate notes and some ginger spice that wasn’t there before. This feels a bit more true towards what we expect from Mortlach’s meaty spirit.

Palate (with water)

The reduced palate has a touch of bitter melon, ginger and cinnamon, cherries in syrup and strawberry mousse. We’re also finding a hint of meatiness, but it’s still got a lot of that sweetness from before dominating the palate.

Conclusion

This is dangerous. It’s like dessert in a glass, except it’s cask strength whisky and it goes down a bit too quickly. It’s got great alcohol integration, maybe a bit too much sweetness but we’re not really going to complain too much. We’re a bit disappointed with the mouthfeel, and the finish could perhaps be a bit longer, but we’re nitpicking. We’re glad we picked up a bottle.

Score: 8.5/10

  • 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
  • 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
  • 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
  • 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
  • 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
  • 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
  • 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
  • 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
  • 2 - Pour it out
  • 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.

Thanks to Fib Whisky for sending us these samples. As always, this in no way influences our opinion or scoring of the whiskies we review.


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