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KWM 2022 Whisky Calendar Day 1: First Editions Mortlach 2009 KWM Cask

Posted on December 1, 2022

BONUS CONTENT: Read Andrew's write-up on the first KWM Cask ever selected here!

by Evan

Welcome to the 2022 Edition of our Kensington Wine Market Whisky Calendar!

This year marks the 7th 12th 9th iteration of our very own store-made whisky calendar, with the first release dating back to 2018 1901 2014. Who knew, back then, that the concept would survive this long? The concept of adult-oriented and booze-themed holiday or advent calendars has exploded over the intervening years, and we now see versions focusing on everything from Beer to Lego to Port to Prosecco to Rum and beyond. A customer asked if there is a Tequila/Mezcal calendar available. There is not one in our market yet, but I am sure we will see one eventually.

What is my point in all of this? I just want to say that we are very thankful that our customers continue to support us in a very crowded market. We realize that there are many options out there vying for your hard-earned money (heck – we sell every holiday/advent calendar I mentioned above except for the Lego version. You might have to hit Walmart up for that one). The KWM Whisky Calendar is a labour of love and we spend a lot of time every year sourcing the bottles and building the packaging, fretting over which spelling mistake where are going to add where and what bottle shot we are going to mirror as an easter egg for you all to find.

These blog posts are part of the labour and love that go into our KWM Whisky Calendar – a bit of a value add – or at the very least an opportunity for me to shout my own thoughts and opinions loudly into the void. I appreciate your continued tolerance if you are one of those reading this.

Perhaps the most fun Andrew, myself, and the other whisky staff get to have in December is participating in the online recap tastings held every five days. This is something we started just two years ago as video streaming took off during Covid, but it has quickly become a permanent value-add for the KWM Whisky Calendar that gives us a fun venue to connect with customers after their purchase and see how the lineup we spent a long time curating shows. We love hearing about your favourites (and least favourites for that matter!), your thoughts on the order, and what you would like to see in the next edition. Sure, making money is an important part of selling this product, but hearing how we could make it even more exciting next year keeps us excited about the future possibilities this all might bring.

Hmm. That is probably enough self-aggrandizing for the moment. You didn’t really come here to read all of that garbage, did you? Let’s go ahead and tackle what all of us are here for: opening Door Number One on the 2022 KWM Whisky Calendar.

Crack open that first perforated window which is located on the bottom left of the front of this year’s Whisky Calander. Inside you should find a Glencairn Glass with a scroll worth reading, plus that all-important first 50ml bottle of Whisky: The First Editions Mortlach 2009 KWM Cask.

Instead of dipping our toes in and seeing if the water is warm by playing it safe with something light and easy-drinking, we are climbing the high diving board and jumping head-first into the deep end of single cask, cask strength whisky with our first calendar dram. Get your water droppers ready if you feel the urge because this dram weighs in at 52.1% ABV.

To me, this sounds like a great way to start December.

In the nine years of sourcing mini bottles for the KWM Whisky Calendar, this is only the second time we have gotten a bottle from the indie label The First Editions. The last time was two years ago with another KWM Cask: a fantastic 1995 Aberlour, which we showcased way back on Day 23 of our 2018 KWM Whisky Calendar. I believe that Andrew may be talking about this specific bottle in a post soon...

I believe this is also the third time we have included a Mortlach Single Malt in our own whisky calendar. One of the other two was also a KWM cask selection behind Door Number Four of our 2018 KWM Whisky Calendar – that time an 11-year-old from the indie label Old Malt Cask.

The First Editions and Old Malt Cask labels have quite a bit in common. Both focus on single casks and both are typically bottled at a higher strength. Old Malt Cask bottlings are at least 50% ABV but sometimes cask strength. The First Editions label is always bottled at cask strength. Also: both The First Editions and Old Malt Cask are owned by the same company. That is Hunter Laing.

Let’s leave the label for a bit and talk about the distillery that made this whisky. Mortlach was founded back in 1823 and is located in Speyside within Dufftown. Its nearest distillery neighbours include Glendullan and heavy hitters Glenfiddich and Balvenie, as well as the aptly named Dufftown Distillery itself.

Mortlach is known as “The Beast of Dufftown” thanks to its heavy and often meaty distillate profile that often shows up in its whisky as well. This rich, characterful profile makes it highly sought after by blenders. The distillery is owned by alcohol giant Diageo and is showcased throughout the Johnnie Walker range, including the bold and peated Black Label.

For more information on Mortlach Distillery and its history, check out Andrew’s article for Celtic Life International here.

That is enough background for now, don’t you think? I know I am thirsty from all this typing, so let's crack whisky number one open and see what it is all about!

First Edition Mortlach 2009 KWM Cask – 52.1% - 11 Years Old - Finished in a California Cabernet Wine Cask

This specific bottling of Mortlach from First Editions was selected by Andrew, myself and the whisky staff at Kensington Wine Market. Sadly, the full-sized bottles of this whisky have already sold out and only these mini bottles remain.

Andrew's Tasting Note

Nose: teriyaki beef jerky and bbq pork ribs with a side of brisket... this is so beefy; firm leather and earthy tobacco; as that element pulls back Jujubes, Strawberry Twizzlers, cooked raisins, and red berry fruits emerge; chocolate and a faint touch of gunpowder... but this is a Mortlach after all!

Palate: not what I was expecting, there is still a twinge of meatiness but the fruits are firmly in charge; strawberries dipped in chocolate, pureed raspberries, and dark fruits too: more cooked raisins, grilled dates, and Fig Newtons (before they ruined them by removing the trans fats); dark chocolate-coated marshmallows, Russian caramel, soft leather, and cigar tobacco; the Strawberry Twizzlers are still there, as are the Jujubes; subtle spices, a trace of gunpowder and more beef brisket.

Finish: medium in length, it is warming, coating, and smooth with fading dark fruits, caramel, chocolate, and a pleasant meatiness.

Comment: the nose suggests a wine cask, but the palate could easily be mistaken for that of a sherry cask matured whisky; this is rich, complex, and elegant; this whisky will please both Mortlach fans and anyone who likes sherry forward malts; and if you are one of those Anoraks who think wine cask whiskies are always rubbish, this will change your mind! 

Evan’s Tasting Note

Nose: Dark chocolate, cocoa powder, marmalade, cherry tarts, Crispy Crunch bars, apple sauce, and a touch of beef soup stock with chives or green onions cooking in the background.

Palate: Fentimans or Fever Tree Ginger Beer, cinnamon sticks, graham crackers, apple cider, pistachio nuts, Cocoa Puffs cereal, chocolate brownies and Nanaimo Bars

Finish: Warming and rich with some toasted nutty notes and red fruits.

Comment: This is a red wine cask masquerading as a sherry cask – which is what I think many producers hope for in a cask finish. Maybe it is the rich and savoury Mortlach distillate that helps pull the effect off. Either way, this was a solid single cask that we were all surprised and excited to get our hands on. Too bad the big bottles of it are already sold out!

We are now officially off to the races! With one bottle down and a daunting 24 left to go, this is definitely more of a marathon than a sprint. Keep that pace slow and steady, and I will see you tomorrow for whisky number two!

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This entry was posted in Whisky, Whisky Calendars, Independent Bottler, KWM Whisky Calendar 2022, KWM Single Cask



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