Mortlach 1978-1998, 20yo, 62.2% – Rare Malts Selection

By now the Rare Malts Selection is quickly becoming the stuff of legend. It’s not even that all of them are stellar whiskies, but enough of them are to lift up the entire series. And when they are stellar, I mean truly stellar. Think of Brora, Clynelish, Port Ellen and Rosebank, for example.

Another thing that makes the Rare Malts selection stand out is the rather insane ABV that most of them are bottled at. It’s quite common to see these bottling at over 60%, while they are all pretty well aged whiskies.

What’s also funny is that Diageo tried to do something similar to this again with their Manager’s Choice. The entire project went down in flames, more or less. Of course, they are collecting some value nowadays, and some of them have always been (Lagavulin, Clynelish, Talisker). But for the first decade these were out, they just didn’t move.

Not too surprising, because who’s going to buy 9 year old Glenlossie at 200 euros?

Anyway, back to this Rare Malt. I got the sample from Jon Beach through his advent calendar. I’ve reviewed some whiskies of it in the past, while some others were already on the blog before. The summary of the entire calendar is that it contained no whisky I didn’t like, although not all my expectations were met.

Image from Whiskybase

True to character with hints of pan seared beef. Hay, straw, barn yard. Barley ears, lemon zest. Oak and a hint of beeswax, varnish.

Dry and bees waxy, with ‘tea wax’, oak, barley. Again the slight hint of seared beef. Hay, straw, a bit farmy. Quite sharp, for the age, but not surprising with an ABV like this. Hints of cork, lemon rind.

A huge finish, that just doesn’t seem to dissipate. Dry with hints of cork, oak, straw. The waxiness is mostly gone.

This honestly just is what Mortlach does best, and it’s not even from a sherry cask. The beefy notes on the nose sound weird but are actually very, very tasty. Combined with the other notes and the massive ABV this makes for rollercoaster drinking, but all in a good way.

Of course, this stuff is unaffordable now (600 euros, as we speak), but even at that price I wouldn’t be disappointed.



About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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2 Responses to Mortlach 1978-1998, 20yo, 62.2% – Rare Malts Selection

  1. Mermur says:

    How did you come to the conclusion that this Mortlach did not mature in a (refill) sherry cask?

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