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Delving Into The Private Barrel Co Mortlach 18 Year Old

Private Barrel Co Mortlach 18 YO Tasting Notes

It’s a busy time for Checkers Private Barrel Co! Not only have they released the superb James Sedgwick Distillery 6yo single cask single malt, they’ve unleashed an 18 year old Mortlach on us too!

I once again spoke to Hein Herbst, co-founder/creator of the PBC brand about the new release:

WTF: Hein, let’s take a look at the dark horse that you’ve sprung upon us while all eyes were on the JSD 6yo – the Mortlach 18yo!

HH: This Mortlach has been biding its time. We bought it back in 2014. As you know, we released our first Mortlach that was very popular. Next, its sister cask was released as our second Mortlach and it flew off the shelves! (WTF: I can attest to that – what a whisky!) And now, this one…

WTF: I have to ask, is it a sister cask to the first two that you released? That would be awesome!

HH: We purchased all 3 Mortlach casks from Meadowside Blending (Donald and Andrew Hart), who in turn purchased them from Mortlach some time ago. All three casks being first fill bourbon hogsheads. Two of these were refilled into sherry butts – relatively fresh PX casks would be my guess. How long they spent in these casks is unknown to me.

These two became our first two editions of PBC Mortlach which were a fan favourite. The third cask was not refilled and has been a bourbon hogshead from the start. This will now be our 18 year old. So it’s more of a stepsister or estranged sister, than a true sister to the other two.

We made the call to hold onto the third cask and see what would happen if we let it mature a little longer. Since then, Diageo have revamped their Mortlach line up which also includes an 18yo now. Ours is extremely well-priced when compared to that one.

It is a bit different to the others, obviously. I don’t think people should expect the same. It is more refined that the robust 14 year olds. This is simply the big sister of the other two casks. Nothing else involved, other than letting her sit and mature. This one is bottled at cask strength – 50.2%. Unlike the JSD release, we didn’t see the need to bring down the ABV at all.

We’ve been secretly excited about the Mortlach for a very long time.

WTF: What was the reasoning behind holding on until it was an 18yo? Were you looking for a specific age statement? Was this cask just not quite ready at 14/15/16? Did it have to fit into your release pipeline?

HH: It would have been very easy for us to release it as a 14 year old and it would have sold well like its sister casks, but we wanted to release something older. A concern was that if we left it too long, the cask would get tired and the whisky would lose that full-bodied flavour that we love, so we have been tasting it regularly over the last few years. And I think we’ve got it right. It was the right time to bottle it.

WTF: What kind of reaction are you expecting to get to this Mortlach in light of how well the previous two have done?

HH: Ha ha, I’m a bit nervous about that. Just because it’s different. I’m sure I’m going to be getting a few “It tastes different to the 14s!” comments on social media, but I’m hoping that it is well accepted. I think it’s a great story.

WTF: Anything else you would like to share?

HH: We’re excited about this year – the two PBCs, and we will be releasing another Number batch, along the lines of the 39 and 68. We don’t want to keep releasing the same style of whisky, so we’re aiming to do something a little different this time. (WTF: Hmm, something other than a Speysider this time? I wonder where from?)

It’s actually harder to find these consignments of whisky (6000-8000 bottles) than it has been to find good single casks, and we’ve passed on quite a few because the quality just hasn’t been there. But we keep looking! Quality first…

On the Label

Private Barrel Co Mortlach 18 Label

Cask No: 11021 Cask Type: Bourbon Cask
Age: 18 Years Number of bottles: 327
Aroma: Vanilla notes, hints of summer fruits and honey Palate: Lovely velvet texture, some mocha coffee and butterscotch
Finish: Long and warming with some sugared almonds Cask Selection By: Andrew Hart

My Tasting Notes For The PBC Mortlach 18yo

Private Barrel Co Mortlach 18 Year Old

Without water

Nose: Rather muted… takes time to open up. Vegetal notes mixed with peaches and apricot sweets – the kind we used to have when we were kids.
Palate: Some warm spices and hints of tobacco. The peaches and apricots are more prominent now.
Finish: Wet compost/moss, relatively short

With water

Nose: Ah, the water has opened up the whisky more. Honey, candle wax, sweeter and softer peaches and apricots than before. Pine needles.
Palate: Rounder mouthfeel. Slight sherbety prickle on the sides of the tongue. Powdered sugar, ripe tropical fruits, nutmeg.
Finish: Warming, lingers longer, echoes of the peaches and apricots as it fades away.

Thoughts: I was really hoping it would share the characteristics of the 14yos I loved so much, but it stands apart from them. It’s not an unpleasant dram at all, just not what I was looking for. But that’s ok. This gentle whisky will appeal to a lot of folks out there, just not me this time around.

I like the fact that the PBC team are constantly trying different things and hope they keep up the momentum. In the meantime, I’m going to go pour myself another glass of the PBC JSD 6yo πŸ™‚

SlΓ‘inte!

1 Comment

  1. Derek Derek
    October 13, 2018    

    Have not had the pleasure of tasting the 14yr bottling, but as you mentioned, this one is from different casks.
    My junior palate rather enjoys this one. Got one bottle left, looking for an excuse to open it πŸ˜‰

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