The Single Cask Whisky Review #69: Mortlach 1990 20 Years Old "Freshly Cut Grass"

June 11, 2017

The Single Cask Whisky Review #69: Mortlach 1990 20 Years Old

This week's review takes us to Speyside, and specifically Dufftown to review an expression from a distillery which has until recently been rather hidden from view (although it has had a reputation for producing superb whiskies for many years now).

Mortlach is a distillery which has become a cult classic among a number of whisky drinkers primarily due to its robust and meaty style, which can be attributed to the use of worm tubs in the distillation process which reduces copper contact and results in a heavier and more sulphurous spirit.

The distillery is also known as "The Beast of Speyside" due to this meaty and robust character and it is also a critical component in several Diageo blends, with the Johnnie Walker range (and Black Label in particular) relying heavily on it.

This week's review focuses on an expression of Mortlach which was distilled in 1990, matured for 20 years in refill sherry puncheon before being bottled by independent bottler Wemyss Malts for their single cask range of releases.

So, let's dive right into the review!

Mortlach 1990 20 Years COld (Bottled by Wemyss Malts, 46% abv)

Colour: Copper

Nose: Initial entry presents meaty and savoury hints which one would normally associate with a Mortlach, followed by red fruits such as apricots and prunes. Supple oak, wood spices such as cinnamon and a certain Christmas cake note emerge after some time and complement the meaty and fruity hints.

Palate: More of the same on the palate, with the meaty and savoury hints at the fore, followed by the apricots and prunes, a touch of sulphur, oak, cinnamon, Christmas cake and a nice oiliness. With time, hints of tobacco pouch and cigar leaves emerge.

Finish: Long and lingering on the palate, with the savoury element taking control of the proceedings and the fruits and oak the dominant characters in the mix as time goes on.

Balance: A well balanced and more-ish dram which exhibits the typical Mortlach characteristics while being somewhat magnified due to the maturation in a sherry puncheon. The mouthfeel is generally oily with a touch of dryness at the end.

This expression of Mortlach can be purchased by the dram for in-bar consumption and there are unfortunately no more bottles left, so it would definitely be worth seeking this expression out at the bar before it is gone.

Written By Brendan Pillai for The Single Cask 


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