Mortlach Rare Old
Taste Score: 82
Category: Single malt scotch, No-Age Statement, Gift Whisky
Whisky Cabinet Score: ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
From removing the cork, to tipping the bottle, to the pour, Mortlach Rare Old is a fine experience. The bottle screams “expensive whisky.” That being said, the marketing is likely to enrage many. Bragging that your whisky is "rare” and “old" has the same stereotypes associated with driving an embellished large car. Maybe there are some insecurities there?
Mortlach distillery is a big producer focused on the blended scotch market. There's nothing rare about it. As for old, this tastes in line with a 10sh year old scotch that’s been blended with older barrels. The flavour profile, while familiar, is pleasant and stands out. Bottled at 43.4% ABV, it's a nice change from most no-age statement whiskies that keep to the minimum proof level of 40%.
If gift whisky were a category, Mortlach Rare Old would fit many of the requirements. It has the classic single malt scotch flavour, though not overly intense, and the packaging is gorgeous. Your whisky drinking relative will love this whisky, either because they know you spent the money, or because they'll love complaining about how "Mortlach used to be cheap!"
You see, for old school Mortlach drinkers, Rare Old represents a commercialized push on a previously affordable whisky that was most often used to make blended scotch. Mortlach Single Malts, up to this release by Diageo, were primarily sold by independent bottlers. The Mortlach Rare Old review written by Curt from AllThingsWhisky nicely summarizes this point.
For a big whisky cabinet, there’s not much here in terms of flavour you couldn’t get anywhere else. It’s on par with many of the classic 10 or 12 year old single malt scotches, but it’s also one-third more the price. It’s more comparable to 15 year old scotches in price, but lacks the rich full-bodied character typically found in those. I have no regrets over purchasing this bottle, but I’m not likely to go back.
Nose: Dried fruits, lemon citrus, dusty, deeper caramels and honey develop over time. Pleasant ‘ginger soda’ like sweetness.
Palate: Light caramel start that explodes toward nice citrus and spicy notes that overtake the palate. This continues toward a finish with combatting spice and fading caramel. Some bitterness toward the very end.
Balance: It’s not an overly intense drink, but the change in flavour profile is quite nice. The complexity is lacking, however. It has enjoyable classic single malt flavours.
*Whisky Cabinet Rating Explained:
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ Not recommended
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ Good whisky, but not a ‘must-have’
★ ★ ☆ ☆ Your great regular rotation whisky that'll come and go
★ ★ ★ ☆ Excellent, a near must-have
★ ★ ★ ★ Extraordinary, memorable, and original