SMWS Mortlach 76.103 An "Old Fashioned" in a traditional barbershop

A Tasty Dram Whisky Blog tasting notes

I bought this 26 year old Society single cask 76.103 An ''Old Fashioned'' in a traditional barbershop (Number 76 signalling it's a Mortlach, shhhh) on my 30th birthday trip to London already two years ago. It has been dusted off and I gave it the attention and affection it deserves on New Years day.

I had a sip of it in the Society Venue at Greville street and bought a bottle of right away. Partly because of the name. My last trip to London could be summarized as  dropping by Taylor of Old Bond Street, Truefitt & Hill, Geo F Trumpers, Barbecoa, Berry Bros & Rudd and Greville street.  Shaving stuff, meat and whisky. Everything a man needs. Unless you're a bearded hipster.  Skip the three T's then. However the main reason I bought it was this tasty dram being an affordable older malt from a favourite distillery.

The tasting notes from the Society Panel

First impressions are slightly dusty and oily like in a traditional barbers shop; pre-shave oil, Old Spice aftershave, sandalwood hair wash, Brylcreem styling hair cream, and a well-used leather razor strop. Customers are offered, whilst waiting, salt and vinegar peanuts, a slice of Madeira cherry cake and an ‘Old Fashioned’ with an orange slice and a lemon twist. The taste offers wood smoke as well as fried bacon, Garibaldi biscuits and Chinese rice crackers. With water the nose has an intense sweet hickory smoke aroma next to singed orange peel. The taste is now like toasted coconut and dark chocolate infused with flavours of orange, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Identity Card

  • SMWS 76.103 An ''Old Fashioned'' in a traditional barbershop, 
  • Mortlach Distillery, Dufftown (Speyside)
  • Bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society as single cask codenamed 76.103
  • 26 year old single malt
  • Distilled 7th April 1987, bottled in 2013.
  • Refill ex-bourbon hogshead - 279 bottles
  • Alcohol: 52.9% ABV
  • Original price: approx. £84 (€103 in 2014)

Tasting notes

Colour: Straw yellow. thin relatively slow legs on the glass.

Nose: Roasted coconut and citrus wood. Nuts and crispy bread crust. A white thea and bergamot infusion. A bag of peanuts. Crumbled Napoleon lemon candy. Lemon cake with nuts and icing. Gingerbread and almond biscuits.
With water: Lots of citrus. A spicy nut cake.  Mandarins or tangerines. Stem ginger and grapefruit. Honey.

Taste: Sweet barley waffles with citrus peel. Orange zest. Angostura bitters, a key ingredient from the "Old Fashioned" cocktail. Citrus oils. Fairly light in texture. Spicy and crunchy biscuits. Smoked wood and dark chocolate.
With water: Citrus and nuts. Smoke wood and leather. The spicy notes remain omnipresent. Cinnamon and nutmeg. This whisky keeps a bit of a pleasant sharp edge. Biscuits with a mixture of nuts.

Finish: A long spicy finish with nuts, nutmeg and vanilla.

I ended 2016 with an epic Mortlach. It was only fair to start the new year with another one. This Society single cask 76.103 An ''Old Fashioned'' in a traditional barbershop is fabulous. Very likely to be the best SMWS bottle in my cabinet. Too bad I didn't buy a truckload of older  (in their mid-twenties) Mortlachs in 2013 and 2014...

I'll be publishing a recipe for "an Old Fashioned" cocktail on Wednesday. But with another whisky :-) This one is far too good to be used in a cocktail. You should never use bottom shelf stuff, but this class of whiskies  deserve better.