I had an opportunity to pick up this bottle for about $75. It is rare that one can find a Mortlach product in the US for under $100 and, as I like this distillery's masculine whiskies and have enjoyed every G&M product I've ever tasted, I could not resist it.
Upon opening and pouring this very light amber colored spirit into a Glencairn glass, there is a surprisingly floral fruitiness that wafts up and tells you it has been aged in Sherry casks. (A quick bit of research indicates that first fill and refill Sherry casks were used for this particular expression).
A hint of spice follows the fruitiness on the nose, a promise of what is in store for the palate.
The whisky at first sip gives off a fruity, apricot like sweetness that lingers lightly as the classic spice of Mortlach presents itself, though not nearly as powerfully as in some Mortlach expressions I've tasted. Think spiced wafers of autumn, a favorite cookie in the eastern U.S., with light nutmeg, allspice and clove, rather than a harsher ginger snap. There is a subtle, pleasing oiliness to the palate from this spirit, which was anticipated from a deep nosing before tasting the dram.
Although the whisky is smooth enough to enjoy without any water, I enjoyed the whisky more after adding 2 drops of cool water to open it up and would recommend against adding much more water as the 43% ABV doesn't lend itself to substantial dilution.
The sweetness of the sherry casking was a surprise, but make no mistake, this is not a cloying sherry bomb. It is still a hardy whisky notwithstanding the lower ABV, but it doesn't linger on the tongue as long as some other Mortlach expressions. This is a fine product for anyone who would like to experience a sherry casked classic Speyside single malt whisky, and one can never go wrong with Mortlach in any of its expressions.
Mortlach is in the Diageo family of distilleries and, with Cardhu, has been an important component of the Johnny Walker blends for many years. Private bottlers have been maturing and bottling Mortlach for years, but Diageo has been allowing the Beast of Dufftown to make its mark in the single malt market of late, to the benefit of many of us whisky enthusiasts. (See my review of Mortlach Rare Old for contrast)