What's darker than maple syrup, brimming with spice cake, supple as all hell, yet massively powerful at 58.1% alcohol? Our new K&L Exclusive single barrel, first-fill sherry cask of Mortlach!
This is not a pre-arrival. This baby is in stock right now!
Why did we not sell it in advance? Here's the story:
Chieftain's has a pretty cozy relationship with Diageo because Diageo needs Glen Goyne for its blends and Ian McCleod owns both the distillery and the Chieftain's independent label. For that reason, Chieftain's often has access to stuff from the big D portfolio that no other indy bottler has. We didn't have an appointment with Chieftain's this year because they are running out of casks to sell and they weren't going to offer us anything. However, this Mortlach cask was one of the last things they were willing to sell us, mainly because they knew I really, really wanted it. They were going to bottle it whether we wanted it or not because it needed to get out of the wood or risk oversaturation, so that meant we could probably get to the states by mid-May if we pushed. We did. It's here. That was fast!
I love sherry-aged Mortlach. I adore it. To me, when done properly, it has no equal in the world of single malt. I think it's better than Macallan, Glenfarclas, Glendronach, Balvenie, or any other similar whisky profile in the business. This isn't a fact, this is just my personal opinion. Finding a sherry cask of Mortlach has been kind of a white whale search for me. I don't mean finding a bottle to purchase. I mean finding an entire cask, just for K&L and whatever customers wanted to share it with us. I ask every producer we visit if they have any. The answer is almost always "No." When they do have a barrel it's never the right one. This 22 year old butt, however, was like a ray of light coming down from the grey, overcast, Scottish sky.
Why is old, sherry-aged Mortlach a rarity? Because Diageo needs every drop for Johnnie Walker. It's not like I can't get a cask of Mortlach in general. I can buy Mortlach whenever I want because there's plenty of it on the independent market. It's just that it doesn't taste like this.
I'll put this out there right now: this single barrel of Mortlach is easily the best sherry-aged whisky we have in stock. And I'll put this out there, too: I can't remember selling a better one.
Personally, I like this more than any of the Balvenie 1401 Tun series malts. I like this more than our 1970 Glenfarclas. I like this Mortlach more than anything I've ever tasted from Glendronach. It's crazy rich, concentrated, and supple, but it's never sweet. It's powerful and spicy, but the complexity of flavor is delicate and elegant. It's the total package for sherry-aged malt in my world. With water I could drink this all day and all night.
That's just my own personal opinion. Normally when we buy whisky I'm not thinking about myself, but rather what the customer would want and what will represent quality to the greatest number of people. But this barrel purchase was entirely selfish. I bought this cask for me. It represented my own tastes and my own desires. It was another notch in my quest to bottle the greatest Diageo whiskies in the world without having to buy them from Diageo. It was everything I love about my job all rolled into one wooden barrel.
If you like big, massive, super-sherried whisky that pushes the maturation right up to the edge without going over, then I hope you'll share this whisky with me. Because there's a lot of it. Like 500 bottles.
And I can't drink it all myself.
1990 Mortlach 22 Year Old K&L Exclusive Chieftain's Single Sherry Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $169.99 - If you've ever taken a sip of Johnnie Walker Black then you've tasted Mortlach whisky. The Speyside distillery is one of Diageo's most-prized institutions, creating richly-textured whiskies that provide the backbone to many of its legendary blends. Yet because the whisky isn't sold as a single malt in the United States, the name Mortlach doesn't necessarily stir the emotions of the whisky-loving faithful. But there's another reason Mortlach hasn't achieved stardom abroad: most of what does make it to the States, under the guise of an independent label, is unsherried. To drink Mortlach out of an unsherried hogshead barrel is like drinking Laphroaig without peat or Macallan without richness. It's not at all representative of what the distillery does best. Nevertheless, the occasional hogshead makes its way over every now and again, devoid of the toffee, the cocoa, the spice, and the power. It's no wonder that these oddballs have done little to boost the distillery's rep. On our last visit to Scotland, however, we finally found a prize worthy of purchasing: an ancient, first-fill sherry cask of delicious, traditional, full-throttle Mortlach. Think Macallan 18 on steroids: big, opulent, dense, chewy, meaty, caramel, fudge, baking spices, herbaceous notes, and cakebread. Considering that Macallan 18 just took another price increase, this Mortlach looks like a super value. We've never found a cask of Mortlach this good, and we don't expect to again. Just make sure to add water!