Mortlach 13 2021 Special Release

This is another entry in the continuing series of reviews for the 2021 Special Releases from Diageo. I’ve debated a lot of things.

Like what? Well I’m not going to immediately dismiss Diageo as quickly, though I’ll probably still be buying the independent bottles of what they make. That said… They still make this whisky. So maybe I’ll be nicer when I’m angry at them. The last whiskies haven’t angered me (Save for you Cardhu. You know what you did).

However we’re now into an area I have some experience in: Mortlach. Years ago I found Mortlach fascinating. I hadn’t had any: They all seemed to be old, yet affordable, and the flavour was full of meaty flavours.

Jump ahead to now, Mortlach seems to have changed. Or maybe I changed. No, no it’s the Mortlach. I’ve called it “vegan” Mortlach, not because they are no longer using animal free products (or maybe they are and I haven’t read about it), more so that meatiness is gone. Thus I’m left going back to the well of older, dusty Mortlach to get my kicks.

Enter Mortlach 13 2021 Special Release. Old me would tell you a Mortlach under 19 isn’t a Mortlach I want. Then I had some younger, good Mortlach. Thus my rule went out the window.

Is anything I used to think about Mortlach still applicable? This is a cask strength, newer, younger (for Mortlach), and a mix of Virgin and refill American oak casks. Will it change my mind on Mortlach? Will I stop going to the 1980/1990 well? Let’s see, shall we?

Price: £135

Region: Speyside

Vintage: 2007

Bottled: 2021

Cask type: Virgin and Refill American oak

Abv: 55.9%

Colour: 5Y 8/6

Nose: Grassy, nectarine, gumdrops, sweet pecan, butter

Newer Mortlach vibes: Grassy, fruit, sugar notes, and some butter. Feel like the Virgin oak is giving me some of those nutty and buttery notes, without going full Bourbon.

Man, I miss ham. In the whisky. I was able to have ham over Easter, like Jesus would have wanted, what with being a devout Jewish man.

Taste: Apple, cloves, ginger, grass, caramel

Apple, spices, and more spices (think Xmas spices), grassy and caramel.

I have a theory based on this review, Royal Lochnagar, and Cardhu, but I feel like I’m jumping the gun. This is sweet, apple, and spice. See if you can guess where I’m going? The answer won’t shock you.

Finish: Anise, apple, cloves, pastry, dry apple

More spice, the butter has gone to a sweeter, complex flavour, less caramel and more pastry, the apple is dry.

It’s fine. I’m fine.

Conclusion: Spice bomb that goes to an apple pie. Literally three of these whiskies have tasted super similar to apple pie. Whomever chose the 2021 Special Releases likes that profile. It’s just too bad the Cardhu did a terrible job of it, the Royal Lochnagar did okay, and this is a better version.

No, I haven’t been eating apple pie before these reviews, and I didn’t have them all at once.

Is it a good Mortlach? Depends on your view. Compared to other of the special releases? Buy this one if you want non-peated whisky. Compared to other Mortlach I’ve had? It’s not sherried, where I think younger Mortlach does well, it’s more expensive than some IBs, and it’s about as good. So not so much. Compared to some other “vegan” ex-Bourbon Mortlach? Sure, it’s alright. It’s fine. Compared to the 80s/90s Mortlach I’ve had? Sadly no. So I’ll keep waiting for them to remake the ham flavour.


Scotch review #1533, Speyside review #434, Whisky Network review #2253

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