Cadenhead's Mortlach, 1987, 30 years old, 53.5% A⊕
Nose - A double edged sword - one side is deep and fruity, sweetshop and jelly. The other side is tobacco, wood, cask, pellet hops. There's a sourness, overripe fruits, behind it as well as hints of travel sweets and sunscreen. And also something slightly off, sweaty - but not off-putting. It's quite masculine for all that sweetshop, quite butch, very senior. All that is quite messy and disintegrated neat but it comes together a bit better with water.
Body - Menthol and wax, crushed blackboard chalk and cherry lip balm. Something like natural gas too. Dustier with water, slightly more robust but the fruit comes through better, plus the wood.
Finish - Medium and a little cheesy with age (although still very strong). Charred oak and liquorice imps. Tropical burps with high alpha hops.
This is big, important, fruity… but it doesn't quite come together to live up to its full potential. It should be a blockbuster with those notes, it's only excellent.
Cadenhead's Littlemill, 40 years old, 41.2% A+
Nose - Green apple, ripe pear, old cigar, Pritt stick and old UHU glue. There's just the most delicate, yet intense fruitiness to this, and quite herbal - rosemary, cut hedge, crushed flower stalks and hot summer grass… and the cleanest funk I've ever smelled - fresh sweat and women's perfume. It is definitely, beautifully, very old school too. Waxier and more medicinal with water.
Body - Less good news in the initial delivery, this is very near the edge, obviously (ABV wise) and it shows in the delivery. Cardboard at first, more of that hedge, a little bong water with preserved lemons and thyme. Repeated sips benefit from the build-up of flavour, there's more wood and more coffee, baked apples and dark chilli chocolate.
Finish - Cocoa powder and full on coffee beans - high quality beans in chocolate. Quite a long, wood led finish, a touch medicinal at the end.
This is over the hill. There's lots to love in here, the nose is remarkable, and it's a privilege to try it but it's gone too far and the ABV has dropped too low.
Thanks Ronnie for the chance to try this ancient whisky!