On a trip to Edinburgh with Mrs dramstats I tasted my first Mortlach. It was an Indie Mortlach tried in a pub and I thought it was amazing. Ever since then I wanted a bottle, and Mrs dramstats weighed in with the 16yo Flora and Fauna for my last birthday.
The Flora and Fauna range contains bottlings by Diageo for some of their single malts that don’t make it into the Premier league of their classic malts range (Talisker, Cragganmore etc). This malt, like Lagavulin, gets 16 years ageing before bottling and is bottled at a slightly stronger than usual 43%ABV. Here are the Dramstats.
- Price paid £64.99
- ABV 43%
- Age 16yo
Nose: Starts with lots of pleasant fresh fruit, sherry, raisins, dates, marzipan, cinder toffee, crunchie bars, black current liquorice boiled sweets. Black wine gums covered in milk chocolate. There is also a metallic note that is not so pleasant and seems at odds with the malt. Time in the glass develops a cough mixture note.
Palate: Not as fruity initially as the nose suggested, the metallic note weighs in and reminds me of licking a bacon pan after frying, before the fruit takes over. Brambles, red fruits, poppets (chocolate covered fruit creams). The malt seems quite thin, with the fruit notes almost watery.
Finish: Bramble and blackcurrent cordial before licking the bacon pan again.
Verdict: Some lovely early fruit and marzipan notes are let down for me by the metallic note that seems at odds with the whisky rather than well integrated. Some enjoyable moments with this, definitely, but I think it’s a bit thin and could do with being bottled at 46%.
And now it’s rant time. This bottle was bought for me as a present from a prominent multi-outlet whisky retailer at the above price. A quick search on the internet (at the time and recently) showed I could get it from numerous places for around £45. Another check showed that the current price of this bottle at the shop in question is now over £70! I find it hard to believe or swallow the idea that overheads for running a shop, or “the personal experience” can be worth paying more than 30% more for a bottle than it’s available for elsewhere. In fact, learning of a price difference this large has left me feeling that someone buying a present for me has been ripped off and this has taken away from the pleasure of owning the whisky.
Would I buy this whisky again? No. It’s definitely not bad whisky, it’s quite enjoyable, but it’s not exciting. That Mortlach in Edinburgh was exciting, and I’ll be checking out the indie bottlers for other Mortlach expressions in search of something similar.
This whisky did teach me a vital lesson though. Always compare prices on the internet before buying a bottle in a shop or at a distillery. On average, shop prices are likely to be a bit higher, and I’m fine with that. They have over heads, I enjoy the experience of being in a whisky shop, and there is something worth paying that little bit extra for in walking out of a shop actually holding a bottle. But I mean a little bit extra. Not +30%!