Before reviewing this Mortlach 1997, let me take you back a few years in time. To the year 2017 to be precise, where it all started with a beautiful whisky book called My Name Is Whisky.

It was the brainchild of Simon Paul Murat who wanted to capture his enormous passion for whisky in a book. And so together with Davide Terziotti and Fabio Petroni and after years of hard work, this dream finally became a reality. The result, a huge tome with no less than 480 pages, about 650 photos of different whisky bottles and 27 interviews with both collectors and people from the industry. However, this could not have been done without the help of Giorgio D’Ambrosio. A legendary whisky collector, who has been a household name in the Italian whisky scene for over 50 years and also used to be the owner of the now-closed Bar Metrò.

After a few years of silence since the book’s release, they quietly worked on a new plan: the MNIW Capsule Collection, The Faces of Whisky. A series of 7 bottlings entirely dedicated to ‘7 great masters in the whisky universe’. And that brings us here to the present day with this 22-year-old Mortlach. Released in 2019, this was the first bottling in this series that is appropriately dedicated to none other than Giorgio D’ambrosio.

This Mortlach has matured in an ex-sherry cask and is bottled at a strength of 56.9% ABV.

Mortlach 1997 tasting notes:

Nose: a stunning nose! Dried fruits, sultanas, dried apricots and dates. Tobacco leaves and a touch of leather. Honey. Roasted ham. But also a hint of wet forest ground. Then it goes towards blueberries and there’s a hint of strawberries in the back. Later also orange peels and a good pinch of cocoa. Water adds creme brulee.

Taste: honey, leather and tobacco. A hint of oranges. Gingerbread too, followed by dark chocolate. There’s a hint of oak and it’s slightly meaty as well. Later also lime and maple syrup. It’s quite spicy too, with a pinch of black pepper and nutmeg. Water makes it sweeter and adds caramel.

Finish: a long finish that is a little bit dry. Burnt sugar and wood spices. Oak too, giving it just a little bit of a bitter touch which reminds me of coffee. But I also have a touch of lime here.

It definitely has that old Mortlach character with its meaty elements, not super exaggerated but they are there. It’s not an easy and subtle whisky, but one that you have to work for, a robust and sturdy dram and quite raw and straightforward at some points. It might not be for everyone, but it’s certainly good. A great Mortlach that lives up to its nickname: The Beast of Dufftown.

Sample provided by MNIW