Review: Mortlach, 1987 Cadenhead’s

Mortlach, 28yo 1987 Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection

(Distilled 1987, bottled February 2016, bourbon hogshead, 198 bottles, 55.3%)

Ah, “the beast of Dufftown”! Aside from some of the old very meaty sherry cask bottlings it’s not really that beastly, I find. Thanks to a somewhat unusual production method it is almost always quite a big and bold spirit however.

This one has spent 28 years in a bourbon hogshead, so let’s see whether it is (apologies to the makers of salami-based snacks) a bit of an animal.

Nose: An interesting mix of very posh vanilla ice-cream and that rather déclassé red sauce that ice-cream vans put on 99s… or maybe it’s condensed milk with canned black cherries? Behind that there’s some gorgeous old wood – like a well-used pipe, complete with a hint of smoky tobacco. A drop of water brings out more fruit: glacé cherries, sweet blackcurrant, even a bit of candied orange. There’s just a teeny hint of some floral violet. It’s an enticing start.
Taste: Waxy lemons and the intimation of furniture polish. A wine-poached pear with a few spices chucked in. Again some touches of violet – makes me think of old Bowmore! The wood jumps out a bit at this stage – slightly dry and liquoricey – but then…
Finish: …the creaminess comes back in force, with those accompanying dark red fruits. Müller Fruit Corner! Then – hmm! – very distinctly cherry-flavour Tunes, complete with a lightly medicinal and menthol edge, and whatever generic “fruit” flavour blue freezer pops are. Blue flavour, I suppose. A long finish; sweet like a cherry chapstick.

Interesting, this. On one hand it’s clearly this enormously classy old Speyside whisky, but on the other I found myself reaching for descriptions evoking artificial fruit flavours. Maybe this is just me showing myself up, and beneath this thin pretentious whisky reviewing carapace I’m actually a bit cheap and plebby (almost certainly true), but I don’t think it’s just that. The taste doesn’t quite live up to the magnificent nose, and there’s something about it that doesn’t strike the right note for me.

So, interesting but flawed. Your mileage may, as ever, vary. I’m just some bloke with a WordPress template and an opinion.


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