After such success with the Ben Nevis 17yr Signatory, I thought about wading further into the Signatory UCC. We’ve got a few other offerings here at the LCBO, and I decided to “go big” with the Mortlach, spending an extra $10. There isn’t much out there about this one, but I decided to give it a go anyway, as Ralfy had raved about a 19yo Signatory cask-strength Mortlach in one of his reviews. “Meaty” he said… and I was sold.
I must admit, before the tasting notes, that my initial experience with this whisky was a disappointment. I had never had a whisky with this nose and palate before, and so it just struck me as off. After revisiting it a week later, I finally got it.
Nose: There is an immediate whiff of sweet sherry, but that dies off with some time. After letting it open up, you get a baked good, and it reminds me very much of the Auchentoshan Valinch in that respect–only without all the peachy sweetness. It’s very savoury. When you dig deeper, the baked good is actually bread, slathered with olive oil. That olive oil is actually quite noticeable, and I really like it. To sum up the nose, it’s not the “British dinner” I was expecting… it actually strikes me as Mediterranean.
The nose is also gives off hints of oak, and in the right moment, a hint of candied cooked carrots.
Palate: Thick, buttery, incredibly smooth. Mostly savoury, freshly baked bread. Malt, toffee and prunes.
Finish: Very mouth-drying, medium-long finish, and warming. Sweetness, spices, oaky with a pleasant ‘toasted’ taste at the end.
I tried not to let my hopes factor into the grade of this whisky, and I think I was fair on that. It’s a meaty whisky, but I mean that more in a robust sense, than actual meat. The finish could be a little longer, and the palate could be more complex, but all-in-all, a whisky to own a bottle of for the experience. (But if you’re in Chicago, or somewhere cheaper, why not go for the cask-strength version?)
Initially I was disappointed, especially given that for the same price, I could have purchased an Aberlour a’Bunadh (which is 5cl larger) but in the end I’m happy with the Mortlach. It fits a different speysider mood. It’s creamy, buttery, and oily without being a heavy sherry-bomb. One thing I can say for sure is that it has intrigued me enough that I probably will search out a cask-strength Mortlach.