Mortlach 10 year 2009 48.4% (Old Particular)

Next in my Old Particular trio is a Mortlach from their ‘regions’ series – from Speyside. I will admit it has been some time since I settled down with a Mortlach. I’ve had some quite lovely independent bottles (including a 37 year old!) and a rather disappointing official bottling – primarily due to its price. I was curious to see what this one from Douglas Laing delivered…

Mortlach 10 Year Old 2009 (cask 13061) 48.4%

  • Nose – Pears and orchard fruits, juicy and fruity, ripe sour cherries, lemon curd
  • Palate – A bit of chilli spice, dark fruits, reminded me a bit of cinnamon rolls, malty
  • Finish – Again back to a spice chaser, warming
  • Water – Don’t mind if I do! opens it up nicely, balanced it

In truth, I wish I had more than a small sample as it needed time and a splash of water to open up.

As for tasting notes? Here is what the folks over at Master of Malt had to say:

A single cask single malt from the Beast of Dufftown (AKA Mortlach), distilled back in March 2009 and left in a refill hogshead to mature. It was bottled 10 years later in March 2019 by Douglas Laing for the Old Particular series, with just 167 bottles produced at 48.4% ABV.

  • Nose: Strawberry laces, Portuguese tarts and cereal with milk.
  • Palate: Barley sugar and cinnamon butter, leading into syrup sponge and orange marmalade.
  • Finish: Toasty oak and more baking spice, with a hint of porridge.

And what about previous brushes with Mortlach?

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Flora and Fauna – Strathmill 12 year 43%

Last in our Whisky Ladies European Chapter comes a Strathmill, part of Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range. To the best of my knowledge, this would be my 2nd brush with Strathmill – the earlier being a 21 year mini bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company.

What did we think of their official bottling?

Strathmill

Strathmill 12 year 43%

  • Nose – Toffee, meadows, over ripe fruits, figs, dried apricot, fresh pudina (mint), coriander, anis seed, perhaps even onion seed like nigela or ajwain. There was something a bit salty, nutty, fruit leather
  • Palate – Not as sweet as anticipated from the aromas, spicier than expected, an oaky woodiness… then flat…
  • Finish – Was there?

We puzzled a bit with this one. Our initial impression was that it was a bit too watered down. However what it really needed was time. As we sat debating, trying to discern more… it took on more and more substance, revealing some chocolate, even a leather and spice… a nice fruitiness came forward and we found to our surprise it was not at all ‘dull’ anymore! Far from it… instead there were delicate but discernible dimensions worth waiting for… and even a nice light chocolate buttery finish. Where was that hiding initially?

I dug out the notes from my earlier experience with the Strathmill 21 year and it rang true this time as well!

“Don’t be tempted to dismiss this whisky as a lightweight… As we continued to sip, it vacillated between cheerful and a deeper character…”

What do the folks at Diageo have to say?

A smooth, easy-drinking all-rounder with a good balance of sweet and dry notes and a medium-long finish. This 12-year-old single malt whisky is surprisingly rich and sherried with notes of cooked fruits, spices, and chocolate. Serving Suggestion: Strathmill works best served in a traditional whisky glass, neat or with a little water

  • Appearance – Pale gold.
  • Body – Smooth, with a medium body.
  • Nose – Light prickle. A closed nose at full strength. A hint of ‘Café Noir’ biscuits. With water, solvent, sweet and minty at first. Light and creamy, becoming darker. Chocolate-chip, mint ice cream, then Toblerone. Roasted peanuts and their skins. Remains pleasantly clean. Dried parsley and moss.
  • Palate – Sweet start. Some acidity.
  • Finish – A medium-length, dry finish. Chocolaty aftertaste.

In our first Flora & Fauna evening, we also sampled:

With more to come…

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Additionally, there are the two ‘off-shoots’ with:

Flora and Fauna – Mannochmore 12 year 43%

Our 1st 2021 Whisky Ladies European Chapter comes thanks to a Diageo connection with careful selection from their Flora and Fauna range.

For some reason I’ve gravitated towards Mannochmore in the last year or so… likely influenced by the rather marvellous Gordon & MacPhail 25 year cask strength sampled at Berlin’s Union Jack and most recently a Chorlton cask strength 12 year.

So I was rather curious to see how it would hold up in an official bottling at a mere 43%…

Mannochmore 12 year 43%

  • Nose – Bournvita and vegemite, then sweet sweet honey, shifting even into honeysuckle flowers, crisp green apples, pears, then fresh cut grass, then a hint of prunes… it kept shifting between more vegetal lightly salty elements and fruity flowery, fresh and green
  • Palate – Interesting – not at all what we expected from the aromas. It was surprisingly well rounded, had a kind of mineral substance, a dash of salt, some wood and light spice, yet as we sipped, it started to become more and more in harmony with the aromas
  • Finish – Initially herbal, anise

We paused… hmm… gave it some consideration. It comes across as ‘easy drinking’ and yet at the same time there is a classical yet whimsical element too. Backed up by quiet strength. Is it massively complex? No. But it is interesting. And has a kind of classic Speyside nod with just enough maturity to not be completely dismissed as a ‘light weight’.

We set it aside to try the others and returned to be pleasantly surprised. It kept is character. If anything it was even fruitier, remained rounded and tasty… not such a bad dram at all.

Bottom line – we liked it!

What do the folks at Diageo have to say?

Surprisingly clean, dry, and refreshingly direct. Mannochmore makes a good aperitif with its light, grassy and herbal notes.

  • Appearance – Pale gold or white wine.
  • Body – Light to medium in body, like a fine wine.
  • Nose – The first impression is sweet and lightly malty, then some aldehydic (green sticks) notes emerge and a slight whiff of brimstone. After a while, the green notes become green apples, and the sulphur notes more like carbon monoxide. With water, similar to the unreduced nose: fresh-fruity, with traces of ‘Spangles’ and acid drops, and still a hint of sulphur compounds in the background. Somewhat ‘monochromatic’ for a Speyside.
  • Palate – Fresh and clean – appetising with good acidity and a well-balanced dryness overall.
  • Finish – Surprisingly dry in the finish for a Speyside.

Would we agree? In truth we didn’t get the sulphur but the balance rang more or less ‘true.’   

In our first Flora & Fauna evening, we also sampled:

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Additionally, there are the two ‘off-shoots’ with:

The Whisky Warehouse no. 8 – Benrinnes 19 year 52.9%

Unfortunately by the time I got around to suggesting to my fellow European based Whisky Ladies that we might want to try a box from The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – this dram was long gone – both as a sample and the full bottle. Pity.

However my virtual tasting companions were quite happy with their alternative – a Tomatin 9 year (2011).

Benrinnes 19 year (1997 / 2016) 52.9%

  • Nose – Subtle, fruity with sweet grass, a bit shy yet lovely, some tobacco leaf, walnut and raspberries
  • Palate – Gorgeous! Something very unusual – a curious sweetness that strangely reminded me of skunk – sounds horrible but it wasn’t. There was a rusty rustic spice,  more fruit and berries, beeswax, ginger, cinnamon
  • Finish – More of the sweet spices with a sprinkle of salt on top – lovely

This was again a whisky that needs a bit of time to open up… become sweeter the longer it aired… taking on an increasing honey fruity sweetness mixed with light cereals, sweet grass or fresh tobacco leaf.

Unfortunately just as this dram was no longer available to purchase, the notes and any further details have disappeared from The Whisky Warehouse No 8 website!

However my tasting companions and I overall enjoyed our quartet from The Whisky Warehouse No 8… there wasn’t much debate about our preferences with:

  1. The Linkwood 11 year (2007 / 2019) 58.2% was a clear favourite!
  2. It was followed by our respective separate samples – my companions enjoyed their Tomatin and I think this Benrinnes
  3. Next up was the Auchentoshan 18 year (1998 / 2017) 48.3%
  4. Closing with the Dailuaine 11 year (2007 / 2020) 61.5%

For me it was such a delight to be sampling from India, sitting at my very unique desk… an old piano lovingly refurbished by my husband, repurposed to become a comfortable creative corner in our country home. In the background I could hear the cicadas and soft music selected for the evening… my belly happily full of home made dosas with delicious peanut coconut chutney… our pair of country cats curled up companionably together on the bed behind me… perfection!

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The Whisky Warehouse no. 8 – Dailuaine 12 year 61.5%

From Speyside-Bogie & Deveron, we next tried a single cask from Dailuaine, selected and bottled by The Whisky Warehouse No. 8. You may note that my wee sample looks a bit ‘frosty’. This is because I was sipping in our country home outside of Mumbai, India with the temperature outside a “mere” 32′ celsius… so I had put my samples in the fridge to chill a bit before I sat down with my tasting companions who virtually joined from Paris, France.

Dailuine 12 year (11/2007 – 01/2020) 61.5 vol.%
Garrison Bourbon Cask No W8 22015, 72 Bottles

  • Nose – Brine, sour, a combo of motorcycle repair shop and swarthy fisherman, a touch of medicinal iodine, shifted more into lots of cereals, a bit vegetal, copper… and after the 1st sip increasingly sweet – perhaps a bit of herbal digestif like Kuemmerling? Some citrus, leafy, yet still retains that saline element too, joined by vanilla pod
  • Palate – Sweet tobacco leaf, spice, ovaltine, milk chocolate with cinnamon, a bit fruity, yet also had a mineral quality too
  • Finish – Strong and long… or is that simply the alcohol?

What a contrast from the Auchentoshan and Linkwood! Imagine going from a perfumery to a fishing trawl! And on the palate? Let’s just say it was far more mellow than we expected at 61.5%!

We thought this one could open up with water, so gave it a go! Yes after initially cranking up the spice, it settled down, revealed some toffee and caramel cream, more of the vanilla pod… but in truth we were a bit ambivalent about water in this one. If anything, it had more character at cask strength!

We continued on to our 4th dram in the set and returned to the Dailuaine after some time. It initially had a peculiar sour cleaning aroma however after a sip, the aromas again shifted… that said we certainly found the palate its best feature.

I reflected back on other Dailuaine’s I’ve sampled and simply must admit while this style of whisky has its place, it isn’t a favourite of mine – at least their ex bourbon casks. That said, I did enjoy the Dailuaine 11 year sherry cask Dailuaine bottled by Gordon & MacPhail, so perhaps a bit sherry cask would – for me at least – suit this spirit better.

Here is what the bottlers have to say:

There are only a few single malt bottlings from the Speyside distillery in Dailuaine, which is beautifully situated in the countryside. The distillery only brings out a handful of original bottlings.

In addition, a number of independent bottlers, who appreciate the special quality of Dailuaine whiskeys, fill one or the other barrel. Only about two percent of the whiskey produced by Dailuaine is marketed as single malt, the rest is mainly used for the blended whiskey Johnnie Walker. We had this single malt rarity Dailuaine stored in a Garrison Bourbon barrel. The specialty of these barrels is their size of just 60 l, which accelerates the maturation process due to the small size.

The vanilla aromas of this bourbon barrel storage are intensified. The disadvantage of these barrels is their availability. There are only 72 bottles of the already rare Dailuaine single malt scotch whiskey.

What more do we know? This single malt is from a single cask No W8  22015, priced at € 80 for a 700 ml bottle.

Overall what did we think? It was worth trying but wasn’t the ‘hit’ of the evening which was clearly the Linkwood with a bit of competition for the ‘runner up’.

What else did we try from The Whisky Warehouse No 8?

As for other brushes with this distillery?

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The Whisky Warehouse no. 8 – Linkwood 11 year 58.2%

From Speyside-Lossie, we’ve sampled quite a few Linkwoods over the years – from 8 to 28 years – some fabulous, some average, but generally enjoyable. We even have one from Diageo’s Flora and Fauna collection planned in the coming month or so!

Linkwood 11 year (06/2007 – 01/2019)  58.2% Bourbon Hogshead Cask No W8 804350, 283 Bottles

We first sampled it ‘neat’…

  • Nose – Bananas, raw pastry dough, a bit of cherry liqueur, toffee, bakewell tart, raspberries,  javitri (the dried flower around nutmeg), raw almond oil shifting into coconut over time, yuzu lemon, as it continued to open, it further evolved – revealing malt, figs, caramel and vanilla
  • Palate – Remarkable! It was – dare I say it – floral? It also had a delightful peppery quality, a zesty spring that complimented its exceptional floral quality. Quite unusual – in a rather appealing way
  • Finish – Nuanced

The 1st sip was a surprise. We didn’t find it overly floral on the nose but it was like sipping a garden bouquet, not the gulab (rose water) of an India sweet but something more like stepping into a flower shop or perfumery. While sometimes we find something this pronounced on the nose, rarely on the palate. How unusual!

While we didn’t feel compelled to add water, I thought to try anyways…

  • Nose – The aromas shifted back to banana – but this time banoffee pie – that fabulous mix of bananas, dulce de leche, graham cracker crust, fresh whipped cream… and in this case an extra boost of vanilla
  • Palate – Could it be possible that the floral element has become perfume? Yet equally it was stronger, spicier, bringing out more ‘oomph’ and character while still being silky smooth and temptingly sippable…
As I wrote up my tasting notes, I realized several aromas and flavours we found were items that may not be so common – combining experiences from UK to India to Japan.
Much like the whisky, our reactions were a joyful enjoyment of its diversity and pleasure in how it evolved. Distinctive and delightful. There was zero doubt this was a class act and definitely something special.
We also found that we liked it both with and without water. While cask strength of 58.2% may seem intense – it really wasn’t with this Linkwood.

Here is what the bottlers have to say:

This Linkwood has everything you would expect from a smooth whiskey. It is clean, the aromas are very well balanced and the aging notes are well integrated. You can call it an ‘all-day whiskey’ with a clear conscience, because it goes with almost any occasion. It’s actually a shame that there are only 283 bottles!

  • Smell : Red, ripe apples and cherries, milk chocolate with a little amaretto, mace and lavender, pleasantly malty with a distinct malt sweetness.
  • Taste : Not quite as fruity anymore, but still a lot of chocolate, which is now a little darker and mixed with roasted almonds. Warm spicy notes such as mace and long pepper can be recognized. The tire notes are very clean, but remain elegantly in the background. With dilution, the whiskey becomes softer and develops a light orange-zest aroma.
  • Finish : Warm and spicy, the dark chocolate notes remain oily on the palate.

Not sure we agree… Though you could, this certainly is not an “all day” drinking dram! As we considered the tasting notes realized it comes across as something ‘ordinary’ rather than extra-ordinary. While the description certainly sounds ‘nice’, we found a whisky that went a good deal beyond mere ‘nice’, instead more of a special treat – something both delicate and complex – even into the ‘exquisite’ territory.

What can we say but well done – both for Linkwood and the cask selection!

What more do we know? This single malt is from a single cask – Bourbon Hogshead – which produced 283 bottles, priced at € 80 for a 700 ml bottle.

Wemyss Summer Breeze – Linkwood 20 year 46%

It was several years waiting to try this beauty! I knew it would be a delight… and was exactly right. So right that it was enjoyed at a couple farewells with such joy that only a lone dram remained… waiting until this fine evening in 2021…

Linkwood 20 year (1995/2015) Summer Breeze Cask #20877 (Wemyss) 46%

  • Nose – Initially greets with crisp green apples, joined by sweet cheese and a sprinkle of sweet spices, some ginger, more apple… perhaps a hint of sweet basil? Lovely fragrant vanilla
  • Palate – Has more substance than the nose would indicate… reminded me of honey banana oats or a soft oat and raisin cookie, with more of that lovely ginger, apple cider
  • Finish – Warm drizzle of honey with a nice spice chaser

It is like wandering through an orchard full of apple blossoms on a warm summers day,,,  Wemyss have rather aptly named this whisky “Summer Breeze’.

Here is what they have to say on the bottle label:

A delicate, fresh, fragrant Hogshead to take you to a summer’s day.

Would I concur? Yes indeed.

This is one of those whiskies you simply enjoy… no fuss, no complications, just happiness. Which is why you will simply have to forgive the limited tasting notes… and permit me to going back to enjoy my last sip!

I picked up this bottle in 2017 at Le Clos, Dubai for AED 380 (approx EUR 85). There were 374 bottles produced.

What other Linkwood‘s have we sampled?

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Chorlton – Mannochmore 12 years 58.7%

All the Chorlton‘s I’ve tried so far are from the L’Ancien Régime series – with a gorgeous consistency to the labels.

However this Mannochmore comes from a different series – La Nouvelle Vague – with delightful period stylized labels. I couldn’t resist throwing a bouquet of flowers into the mix with my photo!

As for the whisky…. read on…

Mannochmore 12 years 58.7% 108 bottles

  • Nose – Yummy, a fruit basket in a glass! Generous cherries, vanilla sponge cake, amaretto, flowery, fresh, beeswax candle, herbal
  • Palate – Toffee, sweet spices, fruity… after some time – yup there is the pineapple and mango… the fruity fabulous quality fully comes through…
  • Finish – Stays… long, lingering, more of that toffee, sweet spices… mmmmm…..

There was a delightful summery quality to this whisky. I found a citrus twist whereas another lady did not. Which is completely normal – different conditions, different glasses, different palates and persuasions.

So whether we found spring, summer or fall in the character of this whisky, did we like it? Absolutely without a doubt!  We really appreciated the subtle contrast between aromas and palate – similar vein but sufficiently different to keep us fully engaged.

A beautifully well rounded whisky – the kind you are quite happy to curl up, sip, enjoy.

What did David have to say? As it isn’t on his website, I’ve copied from his email which prompted this purchase!

And next is a 12yo Mannochmore. This continues the summery theme with a very clean, citrussy and herbal nose. I get melon, bergamot, lemon posset, posh olive oil, vanilla cream and a bit of lavender.

The neat palate is quite intensely tart at first, then sweet – like lemon sherbet, or biting into a kumquat. Wakes up the ol’ taste buds! The development then is on mango jam, roasted pineapple and a touch of peanut brittle in the aftertaste. With water everything is much softer, adding some Bakewell tart, orange, and cream soda.

A good example of the distillery character, this, and great fun to play with adding water. We got just 108 bottles from this bourbon barrel at 58.7%, and they’re available for £57.50 each.

I am so glad I managed to grab this while it was still available!

Here is the full set of Chorlton‘s sampled:

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The Warehouse Collection Glencadam 8 year 61%

The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 was the only German independent bottler to make it into my Whisky Ladies in Europe collection… And I have to confess I’ve been rather impatient to open this after picking it up at Nurnberg’s “The Village” Whisky Festival early March 2020.

For our 2nd virtual tasting, we continued with sampling blind… not knowing what they were trying til the reveal.

Glencadam 8 year (23 Feb 2011/6 June 2019) Bourbon Barrel Cask W8 800125 61% (The Warehouse Collection) 1 of 240 bottles

  • Nose – First waft of sweet bubblegum and pears! Then shifted into red current, sweetened cranberry, apples, fresh and leafy, marshmallow, vanilla… then back to orchard fruits
  • Palate – Mmm…. nice, smooth, some of the wood also came through with a slightly bitter edge which brought out even more character, which started to mix with honey dew melon, silky smooth
  • Finish – Sweet spice with a nicely bitter edge, perhaps a hint of smoke?

In short – brilliant! We absolutely loved this one… It had a fresh springlike quality on the nose yet mellowed until late summer on the palate. Sweet orchard fruits combined with such substance when sipping… What a wonderful contrast!

And with water?

  • Nose – Unbelievable… but could this be even sweeter? Clear William Pear… chased by marzipan, then back to delicious pear… inviting one to keep coming back to sniff and enjoy
  • Palate – Initially it really kicked up the spice – peppery, then nutmeg… could that be betel leaf? Or tobacco leaf? Then it settled into a delightful mix of fruits, woods and gentle spice
  • Finish – Cinnamon bark

With the reveal there was complete surprise that this was 61%?! And only 8 years of age to have such nuanced character? It just goes to show that the right choice by an independent bottler can catch a gem!

Previous experiences with Glencadam official bottling were not so complementary, however this was clearly a winner!

Based on this experience combined with my quick zip through at The Warehouse stall at The Village whisky fest, I ordered a quartet sample set for some future tasting opportunity.

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Chorlton – Tomintoul 14 years 57.6%

Let’s just start by acknowledging that independent bottler Chorlton has the most gorgeous labels! There is no way these bottles are going into recycling… instead I’ve decided to start a ‘top shelf’ in my study with the empties.

But first, we need to finish them! Galloping to the rescue was our European Chapter of Whisky Ladies… nicely enabling me to package up generous tasting sets for our mutual malty pleasure.

Our second evening started off with this Speyside Tomintoul… Naturally at cask strength and sampled without initially revealing the distillery.

Tomintoul 14 years 57.6% 455 bottles

  • Nose – Mmmm cherry, jammy with lots of red fruits and berries, started to shift into melon, then marzipan, nuts, honey, cured prunes
  • Palate – A lovely nice sweet spice, more depth than expected from the aromas, honey, almost a ‘port’ style with a heavy sweetness, wood, full bodied yet gentle and nuanced… with a kind of almost buttery or creamy fullness
  • Finish – Long, strong, comforting finish

While there was absolutely nothing wrong with this one ‘as is’, we thought to also try with water and see if it added, detracted or made minimal difference.

  • Nose – Even fruitier – if that is possible! With more of the marzipan nutty element too, chased by creme brûlée
  • Palate – Also juicier, simply lip smacking!
  • Finish – Retained the sweetly spiced finish

In short, water works if you want to amp up the fruits even more, but also fine without.

Overall we found this to be a well-rounded, happily familiar feeling dram. The kind of cold weather whisky you want to come home to as the perfect anecdote to the bracing outdoors. Fabulous.

What does David have to say?

A fully sherry-matured single cask Speysider at an everyday price? Why ever not! This one has dark berry fruits, honey and toasted teacake on the nose. The palate is creamy, with lemon drops, caramelised pears and an earthy and toasty cardamom spiciness, leading into a hazelnut and dried fruit finish. An affable and quaffable dram, but by no means dull.

I purchased this whisky directly from the Chorlton website for £60 plus shipping.

Here is the full set of Chorlton‘s sampled:

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