Mortlach 1994 22 Years (Gordon & MacPhail)
Here’s a review of a sample that I’ve been sitting on for quite a while. Even though this Mortlach 1994 22 Years was released just three years ago, it already harks back to a different era of whisky consumerism. Just imagine what a heavily sherried, well-aged Mortlach should fetch in 2020. I’m getting shivers just thinking of it. Yes, I’m going to talk about prices a bit. Because my god are we experiencing some peak pricing.
In talking to a few independent bottlers in recent months they kept telling me how incredulous many casks are priced nowadays. Of course, prices are driven by the market but also set by whiskybrokers. These businesses have a right to earn a good living, but some are more ethical in their prices than others. One independent bottler noticed a price difference of 500% between sister casks offered to them by different parties. Now this person knows what they are doing, so they quickly skipped the ridonculous offer.
Obviously, such offers aren’t aimed at knowledgeable industry veterans, but rather at newbie investors. These are the people that’ve probably read coverage about how whisky gets a magical return on investment, but many of them might not even know the difference between Speyside and the Lowlands. These are the people than can be fooled into buying at an uber premium. I know I’m being super cynical here, but something about the whisky price developments of 2020 doesn’t sit right with me. At all. Where the hell is this going? Why are people still buying whisky at these prices? And will there ever be a market correction?
To me, that moment seems to be closer than ever. But I’m not an economist or industry insider. Maybe this is the new reality and prices will keep on going through the roof. I sure hope not. For now, I’m glad I’ve a pretty good stash of whisky to keep me very comfortable. And samples too! Yes, of this Mortlach from 2017 — which already seems like a relative age of innocence, even though I remember skipping this bottling because I thought it too expensive at the time..
Mortlach 1994 22 Years (54.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, C#8192)
Nose: Dark chocolate, pralines and coffee beans with a hit of toffee. These darker aromas are offset by some fresh cranberries and strawberry syrup, but also a few herbal touches as well as a hint of chalk. Finally some prunes and raisins.
Taste: An abundant and citrus-y arrival quickly followed by an array of spices, highlighted by cracked black peppercorns. There’s notes of caramel and raspberry marmelade, as well as a touch of pine needles. Finally a whiff of chocolate. The oily and chewy mouthfeel is a perfect complement.
Finish: Lingering sweetness. Long.
A deserving 90 points for this excellent Mortlach. While the cask influence is undeniably strong, there’s still a balance with the spirit. It also has a vibrancy I don’t often associate with heavily sherried whiskies such as this one.
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.