The choice in Scotch whisky has never been better. Despite what you may hear about shortage of stocks, our shelves have never been fuller with really good and interesting malts. However there is one area that was lacking when it came to our selection, and that was single cask, cask strength expressions from independent bottlers. Over the last few years I have been presented with numerous options of malts to line our shelves, but more often than not I rejected the offers due to quality and taste and also due to an important element: the price to value ratio of the product.
All that changed a few months back when we had the opportunity to bring in a range of whiskies from Adeplhi Rare Scotch Whisky Selections, a company who hit all of the criteria I look for when considering new independent bottlers to add to our collection. Adelphi’s 26 year old Mortlach stole the show at our annual Whisky & Fine spirits Expo in October 2015, for its depth of flavor. Meanwhile other people couldn’t get over the concentration of Sherry in the Adelphi Glenrothes single cask. My notes for all four expressions are below, but remember that these malts are very limited as each cask’s contents were divided out (not equally!) for the entire country, which means that there are only a few bottles of each for each chosen state and once they are gone, that’s it!
Glenrothes 2007, 7 Year Old Speyside Single Malt
Cask No. 3528
243 Bottles Produced
Wait until you see the color on this beauty, for being the youngest malt of the Adelphi bunch this is by far the darkest, and possibly the darkest seven year old malt that you will ever encounter. But then seven years spent resting in a first-class, first-fill Sherry hogshead will do that to a malt. There are beautiful aromas of dried fruits, freshly baked pie crust and crisp barley malt. The palate is thick and chewy, like sucking on a Highland toffee, with notes of Oloroso Sherry, dried fruits, dates, and milk chocolate, which leads into a good, long, rich finish. There is no doubt that this is an intense whisky at 67.4% but don’t let that put you off, because a few drops of water and the whisky opens beautifully and will show you the magic that is Glenrothes.
Glen Moray 1991, 22 Year Old Speyside Single Malt
Cask No. 9411
215 Bottles Produced
This is hands down the best Glen Moray that I have ever laid my lips upon. This is a gorgeously delicate perfumed whisky with notes of pear, sweet malt, and vanilla on the nose. The whisky hits your tongue and glides over it in a sensual manner (if a whisky could be described as sexy, then this would be it!); there is a beautiful perfumed quality to it that is totally unique. Vanilla, mint, and star anise are present to begin with, then fade away gracefully. No need for water here I can tell you. I was stunned when I tasted this the first time and I am stunned now as I write these tasting notes. I just came across a review of this malt by renowned whisky writer Dave Broom and he describes this Glen Moray as such: ‘Gold in color and sweet on the nose, with a little nudge of mash, stewed apples, and cobnuts. As it develops, the impression is of a polite garden tea at the minister’s: vanilla sponge, scones with cream and strawberry jam, with a background of lightly-turned earth. The palate continues equally sweetly and is lightly hot when neat. A glimpse of summer pleasures in wintertime.’
Bladnoch 1990, 24 Year Old Lowland single Malt
Cask No. 30550
184 Bottles Produced
Don’t be put off by the ‘Lowland’ designation, because if you do you’ll be missing out on a good thing. Bladnoch is one of the last few Lowland distilleries left in Scotland and when you can find a whisky from the distillery (bottlings are hard to come by) then you will be rewarded with that distinctive soft Lowland style. In this case that means notes of citrus, banana and oak spice on the nose, followed by a good dollop of fruit on the tongue (a bit like chewy fruit pastilles) with a touch of licorice and pleasant grassiness. Unfortunately, as I said, we do not see enough of this distillery and never before have we seen an actual cask strength release so this is a double rarity. Enjoy!
Mortlach 1987, 26 Year Old Speyside Single Malt
Cask No. 3105
235 Bottles Produced
One of the highlights of last year’s Whisky Expo was this single cask and its presence on the exhibition floor caused quite a stir. I knew that this would be the case, because when Jordan and I tasted it earlier in the year, we were certain that this was a malt that would get tongues wagging– and wagged they did! Although Mortlach is from the well-known Speyside region, it is a relatively obscure malt for the regular whisky punter. However connoisseurs have long held a high opinion of Mortlach as it has a uniquely distinctive and more-ish style, think sweet, Sherried and meaty with a great deal of complexity. And this 26 year old doesn’t disappoint. Aromas of marzipan, kirsch and sweet cream rise from the glass, while the flavors on the palate reveal layers of orange peel, raw almond and baker’s chocolate. A drop of water brings more of these flavors front and center and makes for a delicious drinking experience.