Mortlach 16 Years Old & 20 Years Old
I’ve done the distillery visit, and reviewed the first two whiskies from Mortlach’s core range. Now we’ve arrived at whiskies three and four: Mortlach ‘Distiller’s Dram’ 16 Years Old and Mortlach ‘Cowie’s Blue Seal’ 20 Years Old.
The 16yo is the successor to the excellent and much loved Mortlach 16yo Flora & Fauna, and so far has been received pretty well, which is pretty remarkable considering the shoes it had to fill. It is a mixture of American and European oak sherry casks. The 20yo is also fully matured in sherry casks.
Mortlach 16 Years Old (43.4%, OB, 2019)
Nose: Ripe banana, orange marmalade and orange sweets, with cinnamon and caramel glazed red apples. Hints of dried apricots and figs as well. Really enjoyable.
Taste: Succulent fruit – cherries, sultanas and bitter oranges. But also spices, like nutmeg, followed by Earl Grey and a certain nuttiness.
Finish: Sweetness and leather, as well as some dry tannins. Medium in length.
Mortlach 20 Years Old (43.4%, OB, 2019)
Nose: A hint of copper coins and sour beer, but also a touch of leather-bound books, dark caramel and cocoa powder. Oranges are again a prevailing theme, although this a floral element as well.
Taste: Bitter oranges and butterscotch, with hints of apricots. A touch of raisins, but also resin, nutmeg and a fair amount of oak and tannins. Finally a whiff of menthol.
Finish: Lingering spices and slightly tart with a hint of orange. Medium in length.
The Mortlach 16 Years Old offers a pleasant experience, as does its older sibling. Considering the much higher retail price for the Mortlach 20 Year Old, it’s clear which one I would choose. Although I can’t say I’m much of a fan of the at times dominant tannins in either of these whiskies.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.