Mortlach 16 Year Distiller’s Dram

Scotch Whisky Review #204: Mortlach 16 Year Distiller’s Dram

Distillery: Mortlach

Region: Speyside

Price: $90

ABV: 43.4%

Age: 5 Year.

Barrel Type: Ex-Sherry Cask

Color: 1.3, Russet Muscat.


This review was of a first pour out of the bottle, tasted after letting rest for some time.

Nose: This one needs a LOT of time to air out. Despite only being a hair stronger than 40% ABV, it smells straight out of the bottle heavily of ethanol/rubbing alcohol. The longer you let it sit out, there are some very vibrant and lively fruit notes that come out. White grapes, apricots, and very tart green apple all show themselves.

Palate: It’s a fairly clean flavor. There’s some fruit here, mostly apricots and champagne grapes, but not a whole lot going on. Towards the back, there’s something…different…that I can’t quite put my finger on. Perhaps this is the famed “meatiness” of Mortlach? With some water, the dram sweetens up significantly with sugar, caramel, and malt sweetness coming out. A bit of heat.

Finish: Medium in length. Slightly on the hot side. Lots of burnt sugar with hints of sweetness mixed in with bitter notes.

Conclusion: When I took the whisky matching quiz a few months ago on the Diageo website, it spat out that I’d probably enjoy their relaunched Mortlach. On paper (or at least reading the side of the box), it does sound like something I’d enjoy. Unfortunately, the first impressions of this bottle have not been particularly great. The alcohol in here, while just tinge higher than the usual Diageo bottling, takes a really long time to dissipate. There’s not a whole lot going on, just little bits of fruit here and there. There’s also a bit of a youthful heat to this to the point of if I wasn’t reading the label saying 16 years, I’d be guessing this was a 8-10 year old whisky. Maybe it’ll get better over time but as it stands it’s perfectly drinkable but far from exciting. At least the bottle is pretty.

Final Score: 76.

Scotch Whisky Review #204, Speyside Review #86, Whisky Network Review #285


Scoring Legend:

  • 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
  • 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky.
  • 85-89: Amazing, will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection (if feasible).
  • 80-84: Very Good, maybe only one minor nitpick about the whisky keeping it here.
  • 75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink.
  • 70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
  • 60-69: Meh, still drinkable.
  • Below 59: If you have a bottle of this, start cooking with it instead.

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