Doesn’t your heart usually skip a beat whenever Mortlach is discussed? This distillery is capable of reaching great heights, in the modern era as well as in the past. So I assume the Mortlach 21 Years in the Diageo Special Releases 2020 is highly anticipated by many.
A cult distillery, Mortlach’s incomprehensible 2.81 distillation regime (to me at least) only adds to that status. In a nut shell it goes something like this. The Mortlach spirit is partly double (malty, bready notes), partly triple (fruity, rich) and partly quadruple (spicy) distilled. Combine these three spirits, and it equals 2.81 times distilled. That, obviously, is extremely simplified, and I encourage you to read this article.
The marketing for this Mortlach 21 Years comes with an interesting turn of phrase. It apparently “matured for rich distillery character in small batches.” But… doesn’t all whisky mature in small batches? I’d say that’s the definition of cask maturation. More importantly, after that initial maturation in (presumably) ex-bourbon casks, it was finished in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso-seasoned casks.
Mortlach 21 Years (Special Releases 2020)
Nose: There’s maybe a slight hint of that meaty, sulphury Mortlach spirit, but it mostly stays in the far background. I get bright fruits like oranges, peaches and tangerines. There’s a touch of oat cookies as well, and some ginger soaked rapeseed oil. Finally some wet burlap.
Taste: Touches of pine sap and an attack of ginger and pepper. Just a hint of raisins, bitter and charred lemon peel.
Finish: Settling down and becoming gentler. A whiff of galia melon and beeswax, but also just a whisper of wood smoke and tobacco. Rather long.
I’m not sure if a finish really suits Mortlach, or at least not a short one. I love ex-bourbon matured Mortlach (this Cadenhead’s is delicious for example). And heavily sherried Mortlach is delicious in its own right. I suppose this Mortlach 21 Years Special Release sits somewhere in between.
More Diageo Special Releases 2020
Do you want to read more of my reviews of this year’s Diageo Special Releases? I’ve compiled a neat little list below. Enjoy!
- Pittyvaich 1989 30 Years
- Dalwhinnie 1989 30 Years
- Talisker 2011 8 Years
- The Singleton 2002 17 Years
- Cragganmore 1999 20 Years
- Cardhu 2008 11 Years
- Lagavulin 2007 11 Years
Sample provided by Diageo