There’s often talk of the homogenization of Scotch whisky. What people mean by that, is that less and less distilleries have a distinct style that separates them from the pack. Lots of distilleries use the same type of barley, as well as the same type of yeast, while the use of first-fill casks (be it sherry of bourbon) has it’s own special equalizing effect.
One only has to look at distilleries that do things slightly different. Really, it doesn’t take much to stand out. Springbank is an obvious example, as they are very traditional in their ways. But look at Craigellachie or Pulteney, with their worm tubs. Or Bowmore, where they still operate floor maltings and apply restraint peat use. Or Mortlach, with its intricate 2.81 distillations regime (and worm tubs, als0).
It makes for a more interesting drink, right from the get-go. When Mortlach is nothing but new make, and has yet to see the inside of the cask, it already has an advantage over many other distilleries. That sulphury, meaty quality is instilled before maturation. Therefore, if you put it in a refill cask, its spirit shines, even at a young age.
Mortlach 2004 10 Years Old (57,4%, Douglas Laing, C#DL10326)
Nose: Surprisingly fruity and ripe, with apple, banana and even a hint of mango. Plenty of vanilla too. However, this also has more of a barnyard appeal. Some sour manure and fairly malty. A wee bit of sulphur. Taste: Spicy, fruity, meaty. This is quintessential naked Mortlach. Hints of almond, a pinch of pepper, and a light grassiness accompanied by green apples. Finish: Apple peel, vanilla and banana. Medium in length.
Yeah, I like this. It’s young and not quite polished yet, but nevertheless attractive and pleasing.