Tag Archives: Party Ballons

Exculsive Malts – Mortlach 17yo – 53.3% ABV


MortlachSpeyside region – 53.3%ABV – US only — Price: unknown at this point.

Day two of the Exclusive Malts reviews.

Interestingly enough, after having my little fun with the term “nut skin” yesterday, two people unsubscribed from my posts.  As sad as this is, I gained three new subscribers and a few very nice emails.

Please know that on occasion, in addition to having fun reviewing whisky, I have fun using the humor of my inner nine year old boy.  Sorry if this offends some but, hey ho, I’ll keep doing what I do and will be ever thankful for all of you out there enjoying my posts.

Speaking of “doing what I do,” I’ll move on with my review of this 17yo Mortlach:

Mortlach-1On the nose –  I’m struck first by the scents of bruised apples and apple cider vinegar.  It’s quite present and tough to get past (thankfully, I’m enjoying those notes).

Freshly kneaded dough with a high yeast content and highly sugared cereals.  Speaking of cereal, I’m reminded of a fine muesli and golden raisins, too.

Hot cinnamon and apple sauce (currently warming apple sauce).  Grilled lemons.

Mortlach-2With water it gets a bit more savory with touches of baked tomatoes.

Mortlach-3On the mouth – Thinnish mouthfeel with a keen focus on the malt character of the whisky.  Honied water and just a hint of smoke in the background.

Cracked white pepper or, is it just peppery?  Hmmm…

Mortlach-4Rubber party balloons (or balloon animals), lemon fizzy candies and well, that’s about it I’m afraid.  So far, the nose wins out.  Let me add some water to see if it opens this one up…

Water adds a great amount of texture to the mouthfeel of this whisky and begins to align the nose with the flavors.  Adding water to this whisky was a good choice.

After about 20 minutes, it now, in an odd way, reminds me of Redbreast 12yo Cask Strength.

Finish – A surprisingly long finish filled with fruits and again that touch of smoke.

In sum – While not as approachable or easily dissected as the Clynelish I reviewed yesterday, a bit of patience and water pays off.  This would be a good whisky to have as part of a tasting.  Compare this to some other Mortlachs.  It’s an odd duck out from others that I’ve had but for those up to a challenge, this can be a good dose of fun!

Arran Sassacaia Cask – Limited Edition Bottling

Islands region – 55%ABV – $90 | £43

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed and Arran (and G-d knows, I’ve reviewed quite a few Arran whiskies).  I’ve had a bottle of this Arran Sassacaia on my  shelf for a while and have been slowly, but surely, chipping away at it.

The first time I tried it was when I was in Scotland doing the JSMWS whisky tour with Jason Johnstone-Yellin and our two guests Meg & Mike.  Mike was the one that turned Jason onto the stuff and it was he, Mike, that turned me onto the stuff during a stop at the Craigellachie Hotel just outside of Elgin.

We put this Sassacaia cask whisky up against another distiller’s Sassacaia cask whisky and this Arran one blew the other one out of the water.  There was no real comparison.  This Arran is big and fresh and vibrant.  The other?  Not so much.  While I will not name the other whisky, I will tell you it was *not* the new Glenmorangie Artien – that whisky wasn’t even released when we did this side-by-side.

Here are the details on the Arran Sassacaia  Cask:

On the nose –  Like bathing your nose in a tub full of deep/dark tropical fruits (think passion fruit, persimmon, over-ripe cantaloupe and then a good bit of cherry which I know is not really tropical…).

A bit of a malty backbone.

Juicy juice grape juice (if there were a not so sugary version of it).

Some notes of rubber birthday ballons too.  That’s said in a very positive way.

It’s like a party in my nose.

A very vibrant smelling whisky.

On the mouth – Thick, deep and honied mouthfeel.

Noticeable notes of, you guessed, Sassicaia wine – cherries, cedar wood and even a bit of chocolate in there.

Cinnamon spice which quickly becomes drying.

A couple of sips later reveals an interesting hint (a tiny hint) of swimming pools on hot summer days.

Finish – Drying, long and filled with cherries and chewing tobacco.

In sum – Not a very Arran, Arran if you ask me.  Nice, well balanced and overall a very satisfying whisky.  However, I did not detect much of the Arran character that made me fall in love with their whiskies.  Not a complaint… it just makes me think about what percentage influence wood *really* has on whisky and what makes that percentage change from cask to cask.  This aside, when should you enjoy this one?  Well, I’d try to do it soon.  These bottles are hard to find!!

Big thanks goes out to Mike A for suggesting the whisky – big thanks goes out to Merwin’s for selling me their last bottle!