I saved the best of the quartet of TWE exclusives for last, and after my Baltic vacation and the crazy two weeks I had at work following my two week absence, I’m back to tasting whisky.
This is a cask strength Signatory Vintage Mortlach, that unlike the vast majority of Mortlach expressions I’ve had, wasn’t fully matured in sherry, rather it had a very long finish in it. I say finish, but I think four and a half years (54 months) actually qualify as a second maturation rather than a finish.
The spirit was distilled in May 1998, and matured in ex bourbon hogsheads for 13.5 years. While we don’t really have any specific information on the Hogsheads, I assume that they weren’t overly effective, thus the second maturation.
Signatory Vintage Mortlach 1998, 18 Years Old, Bottled for The Whisky Exchange, Distilled 12.5.1998, Matured in Hogsheads, Refilled into Sherry Butt #5 in November 2011, Bottled 16.5.2016, Yield 681 Bottles from Sherry Butt #5 (55.8% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Bronze, very thin legs dripping off a long lasting necklace. There’s quite a bit of viscosity here.
Nose: The nose is delightfully light, with the sherry sweetness and fruity dryness clearly on top of the aroma chain. You’ll get red berries, a hint of leather, dried apricot and a hint of some earthiness. Yet, this isn’t a sherry bomb, and isn’t quite the classic beefy sherry Mortlach you’d expect from the Flora and Fauna 16 or the 20-21 year olds Signatory bottled in 2013. Swirled, you can’t miss the sherry. Yet, as it sits and breaths, some vanilla and honey and even a hint of coconut come to the nose, with a shy hint of dough. Once the glass is agitated, we’re back to the sherry nose.
Palate: Mildly sweet, with cinnamon and clove washing over the palate, dried apricot and apricot leather, and then the sweetness comes back with a mild hint of lavender.
Linger: Dry and spicy, with wood spices gently tingling all over the mouth, and a lingering sweetness on the tongue. The spices don’t really reach the gullet, though. Overall, the linger is long and gets more tannic and dry as time passes.
Although this isn’t your classic sherry matured Mortlach, it’s very good, and something I hope we might get to see more of. Obviously, Mortlach spirit takes well to sherry, but the bourbon maturation lets the spirit shine through before the layer of sherry is added. There is definitely a place on the market for this type of whisky.