Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Mortlach 16 Year Old - Flora and Fauna

This is a lovely whisky.
But  it’s one that’s difficult to get hold of now the Flora and Fauna range is discontinued. So the story of getting a bottle to review is perhaps worth more of a mention than usual. It started with mild curiosity and ended with me searching the websites of what seemed like every wine and spirit merchant in the UK. Via a spot of righteous indignation in the middle.
Mortlach 16 Year Old
A rare sight...
There’s been so much written about the new official Mortlach range I can only be bothered to mentioned 3 things of note;

1 - Mortlach is a very well regarded distillery that has not previously had an official bottlings.

2 - A new official range of Mortlachs has been launched but they are unfathomably overpriced.

3 - The sort-of-official Flora and Fauna Bottling was much loved by whisky enthusiasts and it seemed like a good idea to get some especially given the price compare to the new official range.

With those three things in mind I tried to get hold of a couple of bottles. Obviously everybody in the world was pretty much ahead of me on this – everywhere  I checked it was either sold out (on all the sites you’d expect, Master of Malt, TWE etc) or suffering a massive price hike on the £40-odd you might have expected to pay a couple of years ago.
But once I had the idea I was determined to find some. Google searches for “Mortlach 16” returned endless websites that had no stock. I tried a variety of things but eventually  I took to getting a list of wine and spirit merchants in the UK and checking their websites individually on the off chance they had some.  Time consuming and a few dead ends with ghost stock that wasn’t really there.
But eventually, after much searching, I came to Gauntley’s in Nottingham. Their last two bottles - £50 each. Not cheap but better than nothing and it felt like a victory nonetheless.
So anyway – enough about exciting tales of buying stuff online how does it taste?
It’s good. Almost annoyingly so considering the ball-ache to get these bottles and the current hype around the new range. But no doubt less annoying than spending £50 and having it taste awful.
I didn’t find it hugely complex - one flavour note kind of dominates, but a very nice flavour. It’s big on the sherry and wood but it has nice smooth edges. Some nice plum sauce notes.  I had been informed it was a meaty dram (whatever that meant) – and there’s is a bit of cured meat, a bit of charcuiterie. But not the plate of sausages I’d been led to expect. But a nice bit of spice too.
It has a lovely tingling aftertaste. Not burn, but a bit of heat. I’m coming to realise that nasty whisky burns, but good whisky warms. This is more like a bit like a drop of tabasco. I might have got a tiny bit of Bailey’s in there too.
Certainly this is one of the most drinkable whiskies I’ve come across. Lovely colour too - very dark, russet.
In summary it’s just lovely. It’s quite reassuring that some many  whisky nerds on forums can’t be wrong. It’s good and it’s different. To get hold of any… well you’ll really struggle to find some now, certainly for less than £80+. You could pay that if you were curious.
As for the new range – I haven’t tasted it and apparently it’s even nicer than this - although I wonder how much of that is blogger bluster from grateful sample recipients. Honestly, I simply cannot conceive of how it would be worth splashing that kind of dough on a standard bottling. The 18 year old is £174 for 50cl (£243 p/r for 70cl). Their NAS entry bottle is £54 (pro rata £75). I think Diageo have got their thinking all wrong (I’ll be sure to mention it to the bosses as they heave sackfulls of cash into their Range Rovers).
In the future I would try some of the Indy bottles – there seems to be plenty of the 15yo and 21yo Gordon & McPhail about for a price that puts Diageo to shame – (15yo around £45 and 21yo around £60).
Finally I have also heard very good things of Dailuaine Flora and Fauna 16 that is supposedly very similar to Mortlach and goes for about £50. And seems plenty of stock for the time being.

So more bottles to try out, maybe I should park my curiosity. It is proving an expensive business….


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