Mortlach 31 1987 Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice – Cask Strength

Our sense of vision is pretty shitty in the animal kingdom. Compare it to a cat that can see better in the dark, or a hawk that can see much further, or even owls which got bits of both. But have any of them invented pop tarts? No, so let’s stick with humans for now.

So with my puny, not-even-great-vision-for-a-human (I wear glasses, 4/20 vision), I saw Mortlach 31 1987 Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice – Cask Strength, the deep black-ish colour, and immediately smitten. Which isn’t something I should immediately be. I’m only human, of course.

But just take a second to look at how dark that is. So when I had a chance to try a sample of this, I jumped at it. And the person offering stated my sad physical momentum upward wasn’t needed, and I only needed to ask.

So what do we have here, other than a tea substitute? Well it’s a cask strength Mortlach aged in a refill sherry hogshead, picked out by Gordon & MacPhail, the conjoined non-related twins of the whisky world (Citation needed).

Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?

Price: N/A at the LCBO

Region: Speyside

Vintage: 1987

Bottled: 03.07.2018

Cask type: Refill Sherry Hogshead

Cask Number: 425

Number of bottles: 200

Abv: 54%

Colour: 7.5YR 4/6

Nose: Xmas pudding, grilled pineapple, dried guava, rubber, oregano, violets

The immediate sherry influence is not just on the look of the dram. Spices, char, tropical fruit, some rubber, and even some herbal and floral.

A very varied nose. That said, it’s not screaming the Mortlach profile. Well with a bit of water it is. More floral/herbal on the nose, lemon has gone the way of warmer climate fruit. Wait, where do lemons come from? (Googles). Odd, grown in warmer climates. Alright, even warmer climates, AKA anywhere with the way we’re going.

Taste: Burnt sugar, oak/vanilla (tons of it), cinnamon hearts, lime juice

Alright, wow. Lots of oak. Tons of vanilla. This… well, this has been laid down a long time. It’s really hard to get around the oak as if a tree fell into your roadway.

Oh, you didn’t live in the woods? Okay, it’s like that time a bully stood in the hallway and mocked you/physically hurt you so you couldn’t get to your locker. Oh, never happened? It’s like being in traffic. There, ubiquitous enough for you?

Finish: Tons of oak, menthol, cinnamon, yeasty bread, anisette, pear, leather, cardamon

The oak brigade continues, however this time more of the wet, wet sherry barrel (assumption) stuck around. It does take some time to show itself, with yeasty notes, some leather, and even some acidity.

All of it though is behind that thing-in-the-way, which in this case is 31 years of oak erasing the Mortlach signature flavour.

Conclusion: Over-oaked. Which is amazing to do to a whisky that loves age. Like if Mortlach was that friend in University, he/she would be the one that always brings home faculty members (hopefully not ones who are teaching them as that brings up concerns) who are what we call “silver foxes”.

All joking about your hip breaking roommates aside, this has been laid down much, much too long. The nose is great. It introduces some interesting characteristics while keeping with the profile. The taste is… Well, it could be anything, but it’s too much oak. The finish comes back to some of the floral aspects of Mortlach, but there’s no pork, there’s no nuttiness. There’s some pear, so at least it’s still whisky, but I’ll be honest: I love Mortlach for the mixture of flavours.

This is more for someone who loves a ton of oak. And I know some of you tree lovers out there will chug this back like oak milk from the oak teat. And that’s fine. For me though? I’ll keep being wowed by the colour, and have some black tea next time.


Scotch review #1090, Speyside review #305, Whisky review #1693

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