Three random malts i’ve been enjoying this October

Kilchoman ’Loch Gorm’ NAS [2016] Ob. 46% WB86[38] [WF]90 ralfy89[’14]

  • kilchoman-loch-gormN: Vibrant, vegetal peat-smoke underlined by Kilchoman’s, vibrant, quality spirit.
  • T: Intense, dry, light, lemon citrus and mineral notes alongside vegetal=smoke peat.
  • F: Short, savoury-spirit with smoke and minimal fruit sweetness.
  • C: Competent, focused and somewhat austere modern classic.

Scores 86 points


Mortlach 21yo [2012] G&M 43% WB85.72[69] WFx WMx

‘Pick ’n’ mix’

  • N: Decay! I learnt [and remembered] that smell from the nosing set at Dornoch castle, although stumbling across a large pile of deer carcasses on the Isle of Jura one autumn was on another, unfortunately unforgettable level of decay. Anyway, back to life – this Mortlach has decay on a ‘funky level’ – a lot like [independent] Clynelish can be, and with a wide flavour profile. Many sugars [pectin, candy, molasses, sherry, sugar cane,..], and plenty of spices too [dry & steeped], vegetal, floral, grassy crops, a little dairy, lemon curd, numerous woods [types, finishes and treatments], some meatiness, nuttiness also,… pick ’n’ mix!
  • T: Sweet decay and plenty of sweet=sour cream – sign of age. Moves towards a sweet, nutty-vegetal chew with fruits developing later – boozy, ripe, fruits thrown in a sherry punch bowl. Marzipan into the finish.
  • F: Marzipan to liquorice & mint. After a few days I’m picking up caramel-chocolate notes but its notes of Madeira [and maybe a little Fino] sherry that are firmest. Plenty of controlled wood yet with tannins at the read and some oily crisps on the finish – but on the whole, not too distracting.
  • mortlach-21-gmC: By its very nature a mixed bag, of treats in the main – not altogether harmonious but certainly expressive. This could be a ‘gateway’ malt for those looking for a step up from standard [supermarket] bottlings, given its speak-easy yet colourful character and competitive price at £80 [July ’16] – although it’s no match for the similarly priced An Cnoc 22yo WB

Scores 85 points


Port Ellen 1978/1998 20yo ‘Rare Malts’ Ob. 60.9% WB92.97[138] WF91[no notes] WM91[8]

‘A plethora of complexity’

  • N: A youthful 20yo but with subtle hallmarks of maturity. Let’s get riffin’. We start with salty mussels laid besides an oak counter strewn with smoked ham & horse meat and a fruit side dish concoction difficult to pin down. Tangerines possibly, oven-baked cherries, roasted leeks & limes, sweet courgettes…. its one to sit down with for a long while. Theres also patience required to take in the array of sugars that sit somewhere in the ‘plethora of complexity’ – theres the headline!
  • T: It’s hard to describe what comes in first and second, and third, and,….. theres so much going on so quickly. Its thick and heavy stuff on the palate and adding a little water helps bring out the oily, diesel-oaken mouthfeel. Not an easy drinker this. If you’ve had a hard day you may be better off with the equally fabulous Balvenie 30.port-ellen-1978
  • F: It settles enough to acknowledge the ever-present smoke – smouldering log stuff here with general motors a little witch-hazel.
  • C: It’s not just the strength or the legacy that make this a ‘big’ malt. I’d add that its not THE most indicative example of the PE style [in my modest experience], but it is hugely indicative of Islay, [pre-TCP] Laphroaig especially and somewhat Octomor-ish too although without the big vegetal notes. Then again, it is in fact nothing like any other distillery but Port Ellen, so there’s full circle for you – oh and it’s great. Currently available online for £999

Scores 91 points

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