Monday, August 5, 2013
A Tale of Two Mortlachs: Binnys vs. K&L
Mortlach is one of the few single malts that seems to be more available now than it was five years ago. A Diageo owned Speyside distillery, Mortlach has always had somewhat of a cult following. There is only one official bottling, but there are numerous independents. Today I'll compare two retailer specialty bottlings of 22 year old 1990 Mortlach aged in sherry cask: a Chieftain's from K&L and a Signatory from Binny's.
Mortlach 1990, (Signatory for Binny's), 21 yo, Distilled 1990, Cask 6073, 52.8% abv ($100)
While it's officially 21 years old, the dates indicate that this Mortlach is only nine days short of 22 years.
The nose is malty without much trace of sherry at all. Malt also dominates the palate, which starts with very nice sweet malty notes and then moves into fruit, floral notes, some bubble gum and a touch of white wine.
This tastes much more like a bourbon cask offering. If it didn't list it on the label, I would never have guessed that it was sherry cask matured. I would assume that this was a cask that had already had a number of fills such that the sherry had all been sucked out of it. Regardless, this is a very nice whiskey; just don't approach it thinking you're getting a sherried malt.
Mortlach 22 (Chieftain's for K&L), Distilled 1990, Cask 5160, 58.1% abv ($170)
The first thing I notice in contrast to the Binny's is how much darker the K&L Mortlach is; it has a dark red hue, while the Binny's is yellow (or as whisky companies call it, "golden"). Both indicate on the label that they have natural color so any difference is likely due to the particular casks or other factors such as temperature and warehouse placement.
The nose has lightly sulfured sherry with some sweet fruit notes. The palate is a very dry sherry with a hint of sulfur and some spice. On the finish, it's prunes and dry sherry. This is a very nice, dry sherried malt.
This was a fascinating match up. Two malts from the same distillery, distilled in the same year, of a comparable age and both aged in sherry butts, yet they are completely different in character. Both of these malts are quite good and definitely worth trying, but if I had to pick just one, I'd say I slightly preferred the Binny's.