Mortlach 21 Gordon & MacPhail

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At a new bar now. No, I’m not drinking in addition to these posts. Well, one Brickworks Cider, and it was tasty, but still. We’re walking a lot and it’s vacation, stop giving me the third degree.

As I’m a totally awesome person and husband, while picking a place to eat and drink for the night, I pushed for a wine bar. My wife is worth it.

So what it was in a basement that I like? So what that they played nice, smooth, light jazz that I prefer? Or that that food was amazing? Or that they also had whisky by coincidence? I did this for her.

So they had Mortlach 21 (Gordon & MacPhail), and I haven’t reviewed it before. Why? Well I’m a little all over the place when it comes to Mortlach. I’ve loved some of the drams I’ve tried, and “meh” about others. It’s a pretty wide cliff, so I can’t just say “I’ll have Mortlach, I always like them” and expect something amazing.

It also doesn’t help that this is, for once, a pretty premium brand. And I don’t mean that in the Brora or Port Ellen way. More so the “Holy Damn they all cost a pretty penny” way. So the risk/reward goes up.

And I don’t blame Diageo, the owner, for charging a lot for these. It’s a key component in multiple Johnnie Walker bottlings. They need this stuff, and letting it out as both their own range of Single Malts, and as the mainstay across some of their blends means… well it means you charge extra for this seemingly magic juice.

So what’s up with this one? Well it’s an older bottling from another Independent Distiller. For awhile I actually thought that Gordon & MacPhail owned or had a deal with Diageo to bring these out, as I kept finding Mortlachs that looked to be OB but then had the G&M name all over them.

This is not the case, it’s just me having some experience bias, that’s all. It happens. So let’s see where this Mortlach falls on my scale, shall we?

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Price: N/A at the LCBO

Region: Speyside

Abv: 43%

Colour: 5Y 9/6

Nose: Pear, raisin, butterscotch, fruit cup, baklava

Quite fruity. Scratch that. I know I could, but then I can’t write scratch that and then this part. But Scratch that. This is very fruity.

There’s a general sense of all aspects of fruit that there could possibly be with this one. And some honey, pastry/butter, and nuts. Yes, it’s mostly fruit. No that doesn’t mean it’s inherently simple or just that flavour. It has various citrus and stone fruit flavours. Some of it is indifferent to one another, others step up.

Taste: Pear, cashew, caramel, pumpkin pie

Big pear flavour starts this all off, then goes cold. It’s kinda muted and doesn’t excite me too much.

Given some time though there’s an earthy, sweet, and spicy/buttery flavour that decides to show up and smack the bitch that is my tongue.

Finish: Currant, cinnamon, butter, malt, roasted pecan, yeast, olive oil

Big flavours at the end. The tease of pumpkin pie leads me to a very diverse finish. Earthy, just the right amount of each element, and really tasty.

Granted I’ve been drinking lots of pumpkin flavours, so that’s probably why I went all autumn on the end. That said, pumpkin was off my diet while on holiday, so it sprang through, as it should (in some cases).

Conclusion: So here’s my first “in between” whisky. Or at least the most “in between” whisky I’ve had so far from Mortlach.

The nose made me wonder if it was simple or not. In the end I guess it is compared to the rest, and rather disjoint. The taste starts simple and then amps up to some flavours. The finish is the true star, and probably why this juice is used as much as it is.

So I enjoyed it, and I’d consider a bottle, but elements of it make me wonder if it should have been a little higher Abv. Even at 46% we may have found more to the taste and nose than some hints at complexity.


Scotch review #485, Speyside review #145, Whisky Network review #789

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