...and obviously, it did! This is more than an adequate dram to all faithfully departed - it seems it was made in heaven itself, actually. What a great drink of the past when everything at every distillery was still made by hand, the stills were heated by direct fires below them (and no one exploded, while the modern stills blow off at the click of a digital camera - according to the ridiculous rigmarole of the tour guides). Oooh, how would I love to have a time machine to go back to 1936 and have a chat with the men while they distill this perfect dram...
The colour is quite dark at auburn and I use a big spheric blender's glass to nose this old gem (never drink out of these glasses, they are for nosing purposes only). Even at the first sniff this nose offers an almost unbelievably complex and balanced profile of both the finest old style sherry-induced aromas and the bold malt characteristics Mortlach is famous for. After some minutes of breathing in the big blender's glass all these aromas virtually explode and form a hard to describe sensoric experience. By the way, the wood is rather shy (as it should be according to the old wise whisky men of this time) and leaves all the stage for the malt and wine flavours. But it generously provides a firm backbone every aroma can hold on - to be not pushed away by the others. While the sherry aromas dominate the first nosing impressions the malt-driven flavours grow stronger over time as if this whisky will offer all of its beautiful components one after the other in a victory parade. Hey, this is one of the finest noses I ever came across (I state this with a rather larger dram measure in the big blender's glass and after around 30 minutes of breathing time) and it still improves with more breathing time (now more than three hours).
The taste is multi-layered and greatly chewable. It offers a perfect combo of sherry- and malt-induced flavours without any single off-note or imbalance. All starts with bitter-sour winey impressions but very soon the barley sugars kick in and start a sweet counter-attack. The sherry sends in the leather troops while the malt is supported by delicious fruits and summer floral notes. This battle rages on from layer to layer - with herbal-earthy arms on the sherry's side and honey-waxy defenders of the sweet positions. Nutty, grassy, oily, toffee and spicy support troops are sent into this fight one after the other but no side gains any advantage - all stays in perfect balance and harmony. Finally, they agree on a cease fire and all join in a grande chocolatey finale that simply is ... delicious.
The dram arrives absolutely charming on the palate and covers the whole of the mouth with a warm and creamy coating. There are some minor bitter-astringent moments but these are not distracting at all (and hey, this dram slept about 40 to 50 years in its wooden home). The finish is long but it is not able to add significant new impressions as all combattants have used all their resources during the tasting fights already. But it extends this tasty experience until the dram slowly vanishes in several fading waves, without any distracting moments at all. Water releases even more aromas in the nose (I never thought this was possible) and it strengthens the sherry flavours in both taste and finish. It is worthwhile to play around a little with water even with this low-proof dram - in does not flatten out because the aromas and flavours are bold and strong enough to withstand a minor reduction. Actually, I like it both neat and somewhat reduced.