Mortlach 1991 Silver Seal Review

“Chocolate, Oranges and Pipe Tobacco”

Country: Scotland 
Region: Speyside
Brand: Mortlach 1991 (Silver Seal)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 21 Years
ABV: 56.3%

Colour: Mahogany/Dark Amber. Shades of Red and Brown.

Nose: Very Mature and Heavy. The Sherry is there of course accompanied by a rather fair amount of Sulphur. Not enough to spoil the party though. Lots of Dried Fruits as well, mainly Raisins. I stopped smoking cigarettes more than 11 years ago but occasionally I smoke a Pipe. In Germany I bought Golden Blend's Vanilla Pipe Tobacco and its Aroma is quite similar to this Mortlach. Put a few drops of Whisky on your (clean) hands, rub them softly and smell! You will be amazed. By the way, I do this with every Whisky that I Taste. Many times you will pick up an extra Aroma this way. I also find Caramel, Espresso Coffee, Banana, Cherry Flavoured Dark Chocolate, light Oak, Malt, Rum with a slice of Orange, Salt and, finally, some old Leather Furniture. The Alcohol is strong and you will have to Nose your way around it.  

Palate: Sweet and Spicy with a Menthol edge to it. Sherry, Orange Flavoured Dark Chocolate, Lemon, Dark Red Fruit and Leather Upholstery are the main Flavours I find.

Finish: Medium Long, Spicy and Bitter-Sweet with Sherry, Orange Flavoured Dark Chocolate, Lemon Peel, Christmas Spices, Dried Fruit, Nuts, light Oak and Light Sherry.

I added a bit of Water and you will find extra Vanilla and Salted Leather on the Nose. On the Palate and in the Finish you'll get more Orange and Tobacco. This old Mortlach certainly allows you to play with a bit of Water.

Rating: 87

Nose: 22.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21.5 - Overall: 21.5

General Remarks: The Mortlach I am reviewing today was distilled in 1991 and bottled at Cask Strength in November 2012 by Silver Seal Whisky Company -Whisky Antique SRL, an Independent Bottler based in Formigine (MO), Italy and founded in 1979. It aged in Ex-Sherry Cask # 4246) and 542 bottles were reserved for Silver Seal. This Single Malt is Uncoloured and not Chill-Filtered. It won't be very easy to find and costs on average 200 US Dollars. But prices as high as 290 US Dollars are not rare to find. Whiskybase in Rotterdam might still have it. That's where I got the sample!

The Mortlach Distillery was founded around 1824 by James Findlater and was the first distillery in Dufftown, Banffshire. Mortlach distills mainly for Blends. The current owners (Diageo) are in the process of increasing capacity while at the same time promoting Mortlach again as a Single Malt.

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: Without any doubt an interesting Single Malt. I like the Nose. It's Full and Rich and there are lots of things to discover. Special features are the Vanilla Flavoured Pipe Tobacco, the Ripe Bananas and the Dark Chocolate. The Alcohol and Sulphur are present but I can live with both of them. On the Palate and in the Finish however I find that this Mortlach leans too much on the Heavy, Dark and Mature Flavours despite the Menthol tones that offer some, but not enough, balance. However, lovers of Sherry Monsters and Orange Flavoured Dark Chocolate will certainly appreciate this mature Mortlach.

Jan van den Ende                                                        August 21, 2014

Slaintheva 12 Years Review

“The Unknown Soldier In No Man's (B)land”

Country: Scotland 
Brand: Slaintheva
Produced by: Alexander Dunn & Co (Whisky Blenders) Ltd, Edinburgh
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky 
Age: 12 Years
ABV: 40 %

Colour: Yellow Gold

Nose: Quite Light. I find a bit of Highland Honey, Refill Oak, Soft Grains, Toast, 
Pastry, Orange Zest, Floral tones, Butter and light Vanilla. Underneath it all is a shy flagrance of Fresh Peach. It smells of New Shoes as well from time to time. But it's not Leather. It's more like Rubber or Plastic Boots for little Children. It does not show the Sharp Grain Alcohol you find so often in Blends. In fact, the Nose is not bad but a bit Dusty and on the Thin side. An ABV of at least 43% would have helped considerably.

Palate: Thin Delivery. I find Dusty Earth, Citrus, Refill Oak, light Vanilla, light Caramel, Sugar, light Rubber/Plastic and a distant hint of Smoke.

Finish: Middle-Long but on the Thin side. I find Earthy tones, light Sugar, light Refill Oak, light Caramel, light Pepper, light Licorice, very light Smoke, Nut Shells and a pinch of Salt.

I added a bit of Water and you get a bit of extra Orange on the Nose. But Palate and Finish are too weak to accept additional Water. Better sip it neat!

Rating: 76

Nose: 19.5 - Taste: 19 - Finish: 18.5 - Overall: 19 

Gordon & MacPhail Shop in Elgin!

General Remarks: The only thing I know for sure about this Blend is that the name is a Gaelic expression meaning "The Very Best of Health To You". But it seems that this Blend was quite famous some 50 years ago. However, all the old expressions bore specific names like Ken Millward, Johnson Fellows & Co, Colin Mallory, Richard Morris or Jonathan Dixon. So you could conclude that this Blend was made (or could be made) to the specifications of Private Persons or Companies. The Brand Name is owned by Alexander Dunn & Co (Whisky Blenders) Ltd of Edinburgh, Scotland. The expression I'm tasting today is the apparent Standard 12 Years Old. I bought a miniature of this Blend in Elgin at the Gordon & MacPhail Shop. I guess it would be sold at around 125 US Dollars for a full bottle.

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay if you don't consider the Price!

Conclusion: I have tasted a lot of Blends that are certainly not as good as this Slaintheva 12 Years. But they were also a lot cheaper. I saw this Blend for sale at around 100 Euros. That's way too much! If you find it for 30 US Dollars you should buy it at once however! The Slaintheva 12 Years has a shy but quite acceptable Nose. Not at all Aggressive like so many Blends. But on the Palate and in the Finish it's admittedly drinkable but too Thin. It also lacks sufficient Flavours to make it attractive as a sipping Whisky. And it's not robust enough for Blending or enjoying it on the Rocks. It's somewhere in No Man's Land and that's not where I want to be!

Jan van den Ende                                                            August 18, 2014

A Miniature identical to the one I bought at
Gordon & MacPhail, Elgin