While most modern Mortlach expressions rely on sherry casks (often supplemented with bourbon casks), the 2022 Special Release explores different options.
It was finished in red muscat (not sure whether this refers to a Rhône wine, something Italian or perhaps a Portuguese Moscatel Roxo?) and tawny port casks, and also has a little bit of virgin oak in the mix. There’s no age statement on the label, not even a rough indication of age in the press material.
Mortlach ‘The Lure of the Blood Moon’ (57,8%, OB Special Releases 2022, virgin oak + Red Muscat + Tawny Port finish)
Nose: prickly and robust, with Mortlach’s meaty umami character coming out, as well as some winey notes. Red berries and grapes, stewed apples and plums. Then cinnamon, pepper and herbal notes. Hints of tobacco leaves in the background, with fresh oak shavings.
Mouth: quite weighty again, with a meaty side, roasted coffee and hints of chocolate. It gets even more weight from the wood spice, like liquorice, black pepper and ginger. Fruit pastry appears in the background, with orange zest and dark honey. Then some green leafy notes as well.
Finish: long, with drying herbs and spices (clove, anise). Still some wine tannins in the background.
While I was initially skeptical about the lack of an age statement and the many wine casks involved, this Mortlach grew on me. The high ABV and uncommon finishing makes it stand out and the flavours are quite nice. Check your local retailer, malts.com or have a look at The Whisky Exchange for instance.