Gordon & MacPhail's bottling of Mortlach new make aged 15 years in refill sherry casks shows that sometimes, you can have too much of a good cask...
Nose: Sweet with generous burnt brown sugar, raisins, and ripe red apples atop a musty, almost sulfurous, woodiness that sits heavy in the glass. No real change in profile with time in air or a splash of water.
Palate: Medium-bodied with mouth-coating honey sweetness. Fruity notes of fig, orange, plantains are complemented by nutmeg, vanilla, and a hint of mint. Quite peppery, the woodiness remains a central feature that carries with it a considerable amount of heat to the finish.
Finish: Warming with an aggressive dryness that forces the fruitier elements aside to make way for a woody, resonating and spicy heat. Mid-way through the long and evolving finish, the sherry flavours kick in again but they are dry, nutty and a touch sour.
Overall: An interesting malt from a distillery we rarely see in single malt form in Toronto, however I find this expression by Gordon & MacPhail to be quite closed, musty and dry. I nearly drowned my whisky with water trying to find a way to balance out not only the heat of the spirit but also the musty woodiness that serves as a screen for much of the flavour. I've let it "breathe," I've added water, I've warmed it up in hand and let it cool yet I found that it never opened up much beyond when first poured. There are some very nice elements within this malt but, on the whole, I'm disappointed with my purchase. Mortlach devotees may find this to be a nice addition to their collection but there are better sherried Speyside malts at this price in the LCBO.