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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Mortlach 16 year old "Distiller's Dram"

Diageo gave up on Perfume Bottle Mortlach and switched to something more consumer friendly in 2018. All three official Mortlachs now had age statements, different packaging and much lower prices. The 12 year old 'Wee Witchie' is ~$50, the 16 year old 'Distiller's Dram' ~$90 and the 20yo 'Cowie's Blue Seal' $200. Though I'm not saying $90 for a diluted official 16yo is a hot deal, but the Tacky Eighteen was $300, so this is a good step.

Unlike its sparring partner, Monday's Rare Old, the Distiller's Dram comes from sherry casks (first and refill) alone and I've seen no word about it being a mix of spirits. So perhaps this is a more focused whisky?

Distillery: Mortlach
Owner: Diageo
Region: Speyside (Dufftown)
Age: at least 16 years old
Maturation: first fill and refill sherry casks
Alcohol by Volume: 43.4%
Chillfiltered? Yes
Colorant added? Yes
(from a bottle split)

The nose starts with a floral note similar to the Rare Old, but then shifts to bananas, papayas and orange zest. Moments of apple pie filling and pumpkin pie spice meet with raisiny sherry and dried leaves. The palate is sweet and friendly with LOTS of maltiness. Almond brittle and oranges in the  midground, some chiles, good bitterness and a hint of smoke in the background. More complex than the palate, the finish blends notes of coffee, smoke, leaves, almonds, bitterness and a slight woodiness.

In my highly valued opinion, anticipated breathlessly by the industry, Mortlach 16 year old is two steps better than the Rare Old, with its two different sides merging well into a moderately complex and very drinkable whisky. The "smoke" note is likely related to the spirit's slightly sulfurous style, which may turn away some drinkers and attract others. Overall, the Distiller's Dram competes with (and probably tops) Macallan and Dalmore in the 15-18yo range, and at a lower price. I would have liked more spirit and less wood, but you knew that already.

Availability - Specialty retailers in US and Europe
Pricing - from $90 to $110
Rating - 85