Review: Mortlach 15 (Gordon & MacPhail) 2013


Mortlach Distillery 3Earlier this week I mentioned Mortlach’s plans to release a single malt range after a substantial £18 million investment from Diageo. What I didn’t know then was the pricing for their range which was just released, and boy is it shocking. The guideline pricing will be £55 for Rare Old, £75 for Special Strength (travel exclusive), £180 for Mortlach 18 year old, and £600 for Mortlach 25 year old. To add insult to injury these prices are for stylish 500 ml bottles. In the US 750 ml bottles are mandated so one could extrapolate that the entry level malt will be priced upwards of $135. That’s pretty absurd considering that the “Rare Old” label will be a fancy way of masking whisky that is about 10 years old on average.  I don’t want to digress too much, but you can probably see the point that I’m arriving at. The best way to taste Mortlach will be to snatch up some independent bottlings now. Given the extreme pricing for the upcoming Mortlach official bottlings, the indie Mortlach’s look to be considerable bargains. At the moment the only single malt Mortlach you can readily find are independent bottlings. These may become an extinct breed once Mortlach’s official range is in full swing. The indie Mortlach’s will phase out slowly after Diageo makes a push to market it as a luxury brand.

The Mortlach indie I’m reviewing today is from Gordon & MacPhail (G&M). It was matured in refill sherry casks before being bottled at 43% ABV. In the case that a whisky is aged in a refill cask it means roughly 50% of the flavor will come from the new make spirit and the other 50% will come from the cask. G&M is one of the larger and more popular independent bottlers in the US. They purchase the spirit direct from distilleries and mature it themselves in hand selected casks. G&M takes pride in their ability to select the appropriate cask to get the most out of the spirit. I have previously reviewed a 2012 edition of this Mortlach 15 G&M and you can see it here.

Tasting Notes

Mortlach 15 G&MNose: green apples, red cherries, green grapes, lime, vanilla, stewed fruits, orange peel

Mouth: bright, green apple skins, unripened cherries, green strawberries, vanilla creme, rounded sherry note, oak spice

Finish: citrus, light oak spice, warming, green mangoes, sultana grapes, green apples

Score: 86/100

Verdict: This whisky has a bright nose full of green apples, green grapes and lime. Just think ‘green’ for the nose. Given more time, there’s evidence of red cherries and stewed fruits in the background. On the mouth this whisky bright  pleasant malt, the finish is satisfying. I let out a sigh of satisfaction after my first swallow. It’s tastes heavier than 43% ABV. There’s unripened cherries, green apple skins, sultana grapes, vanilla creme and mild oak spice. The whisky is rounded out very nicely by a pronounced sherried note. The finish is very similar to the mouth – the sultana flavor is more pronounced followed by a heavy helping of green apples, citrus and green mangoes. As I stated above, now is the time to buy Mortlach indies. This one is a solid one to start your pre-official bottle Mortlach collection with.

Special thanks to Classic Imports for generously providing a sample

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