Scotch

Review: Game of Thrones Six Kingdoms Mortlach 15-Year-Old Single Malt

Photo credit: Diageo

At last we have arrived. The HBO epic Game of Thrones is complete. Say what you will about that divisive last season (I’m on the ‘it was okay’ camp, BTW), it was a game changer in the current TV landscape. Diageo celebrated by releasing their Game of Thrones Single Malt Collection, which ranged from pleasant to very good.

The final entry in that collection is here – Six Kingdoms. According to press materials, it “pays tribute to the fate of Westeros, whose long-held Seven Kingdoms ultimately became six at the conclusion of the show’s climactic battle for the Iron Throne.”

Diageo has chosen to create a new Mortlach expression this time. The famously meaty whisky has matured in first fill sherry casks for 15 years followed by a short secondary maturation in ex-bourbon casks. The whisky has been bottled at 46% ABV and is available in limited quantities for an SRP of $150. I really like Mortlach’s recently released range of whiskies, so I’ve been anxiously awaiting this bottling. Let’s get to it.

Aromas of dried fruit, vanilla bean, toffee and oak spice characterize the nose. Taste-wise, a rich toffee sweetness coats the palate, giving way to hints of vanilla cream and dried fruit. A slight nuttiness also appears, thanks to the sherry cask maturation. A wave of baking spice. leather, and toasted oak increases in intensity through to the long, fruity, and slightly dry finish.

Of all nine whiskies of the Game of Thrones Single Malt Collection, Mortlach 15-year-old is by far the richest and most complex. The ex-bourbon barrel finishing period adds layers of creamy vanilla and caramelized sugar. Combined with Mortlach’s big and fruity nature, the result is a whisky made for toasting a special occasion, after dinner, or any time you want a damn good whisky. This is easily my favorite of the collection.

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

Review: Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Glenury Royal

Johnnie Walker’s Ghost and Rare collection started strong with a blend built around Brora, followed by a second blend that placed malt from cult-favorite Port Ellen front and center. Sadly, the series comes to an end with this expression – Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Glenury Royal.

I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of Glenury Royal until news of this release hit my inbox. The distillery operated from 1825 to 1985, when it was shut down. In addition to Glenury Royal, this blend contains malt whisky from Pittyvaich and grain whisky from Cambus, but long gone. Rare malt and grain whiskies from Glen Elgin, Inchgower, Glenlossie, Cameronbridge, and Glenkinchie are also utilized here.

The nose features a distinct apricot note as well as hints of creamy vanilla, roasted almonds, and slight herbal and earthy undertones. Bottled at 43.8% ABV, Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Glenury Royal starts with creamy butterscotch drizzled with white and dark chocolate. Crisp orchard fruits bring some brightness while candied almonds add to the whisky’s complexity. A touch of smoke leads to a medium-length finish with lingering hints of dried fruit, nuts, and mocha.

Wow. Based on the nose, I was expecting a very fruit forward whisky. Instead, I was treated to a rich, decadent whisky… one I’d easily reach for after a big dinner. All the flavors pair well together, creating a nice balance. The Ghost and Rare series itself is almost like a three-course meal. Brora serves as the appetizer, with the hearty Port Ellen acting as the main dish. Glenury Royal provides a beautiful ending. 9/10

Johnniewalker.com

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

Review: Compass Box The Circle

The Circle, one of Compass Box’s latest releases, is a blended malt made in collaboration with London-based bartender Rosey Mitchell from Three Sheets. Mitchell won a competition run by Compass Box.

“I wanted to make an approachable whisky to be shared with friends,” said Mitchell. “I wanted something you could share in the daytime, something with brightness. It could be served as a vibrant summery highball in the garden – sunshine whisky.”

The whisky itself is a blend of several single malts, including Tamdhu, Clynelish, and assumingely Highland Park. Also included is a small portion of “a Highland malt blend finished in French Oak casks.” It’s bottled at 46% ABV and available for $150.

The nose is fruity and crisp with hints of apples, vanilla, and malt. The official tasting notes are spot on. Additionally, a slightly floral top note adds to the fresh character of this whisky. The palate is equally vibrant, and light enough for a summer afternoon. Stewed apples and creamy vanilla are the stars here. Baking spices are integrated beautifully. A touch of heathery smoke provide more structure. The finish is short and a bit spicy.

A versatile, vibrant whisky indeed. It’s flavorful enough to sip neat, but structured enough to stand up in a whisky highball. Mitchell and the Compass Box team did a nice job with The Circle. Good stuff.

7.5/10