Review: Mortlach Core Range (12-yr, 16-yr, and 20-yr)

Ah, the Beast of Dufftown. Mortlach, the Speyside distillery known for its rich sherried whiskies, has recently updated their core lineup to include 12-, 16-, and 20-year-old expressions.

All whiskies are bottled at 43.4% ABV. They all have something else in common – none of these expressions feature lightly peated malt.


The entry level expression is a 12-year-old single malt called the Wee Witchie. Available for $50, this whisky is rich and fruity on the nose with hints of overly-ripe apricot, oak spice, and sweet malt. The palate bears creamy vanilla notes as well as toffee, ripe pear, sweet malt, and a sprinkling of baking spices. The medium length finish leaves sweet malt, toasted oak, and candied citrus. This whisky is big and oily. The sweet malt is slightly dominant at first, but some airtime allows other flavors and aromas to shine. 7.5/10


In the middle of the new lineup lies Mortlach 16-year-old ($110). The nose is big and aromatic; much heavier than its younger sibling. It’s also much darker, with loads of dried fruit and a heavier helping of baking spices, especially cloves. Those spices carry over onto the palate. Waves of cinnamon and cloves hit first, followed by waves of stewed fruit and astringent oak. Dark toffee and tea tannins lead us into the long, sweet, earthy finish. Big and meaty, this 16-year-old expression might just be my favorite of the bunch. 9/10


Finally, we have Mortlach 20-year-old, available for $250. The nose is slightly subdued but starts to come alive with a splash of water and some airtime. There is a lot going on here. Hints of stewed stone fruit concentrate, spice, and aromatic wood lead to fermented tobacco leaves and dark toffee. This is an oily whisky. It’s palate coating, for sure. An initial earthiness leads to big caramel and stone fruit notes. Cocoa and honey give way to old oak and dried figs. The finish is long and features lingering notes of licorice and dried fruit… the official tasting notes are on the money for that last part. Mortlach 20-year-old is a fine whisky, but might be too heavy and meaty for regular drinking. Call it a special occasion whisky. 8.5/10

Thanks to Diageo for the samples. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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