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Cooper’s Choice – Mortlach 1979

Review: The Cooper’s Choice – Mortlach 1979
Single Malt Scotch Whiskey 83/100

I have a thing for well aged whisky. I love the spirits which have been aged 15 … 20 even 25 years. I also have a soft spot for a bargain. So when I spied a 25-year-old Single Malt Scotch for only $125 bucks, I was like a hungry fish spying a shiny new lure. In spite of my firm resolution to only buy what I sample first, I was hooked! I did not even put up much of a fight.

The Cooper’s Choice seems to be a relatively new third-party bottler who have stepped into my market place bringing in Scotch whisky from distillers who typically do not bottle their own products.   In this case the Mortlach Distillery in Dufftown,  a Speyside distillery.  (I know what you are thinking and No! This is not the home of Duff Beer,  The Simpsons and the Mortlach Distillery are not related.)

In the Bottle 4.5/5

I like the nice green cardboard box with the gold graphics showing the cooperage of oak barrels along the top.  I also like the nice gold topped bottle with solid cork topper.  My only quibble is the label which does not have that solid professional look I have come to expect from Scottish Whisky.    It does tell me that the whisky was distilled in 1979, and bottled in 2005.   I can do the math, the whisky is at least 25 years old.

This does not appear to be a single barrel bottling, but rather a blend of barrels all aged the same length of time from the same distillery.  The bottling proof is 92, or as the label says 46 % Vol.

In the Glass  8.5/10

The legs creep down the side of my glencairn glass in thick rivulets giving the promise of thick oil and long finish.  As I watch, strong toffee, oak and smoke led out in front of a mildly sweet honey and caramel.  The nose is aggressive and fills the room.  If I had been doing a tasting, the nose from this bottle might well have overwhelmed the other whiskies.     The addition of a Single ice-cube brought a foggy haze to the glass which is sometimes the case with non chill filtered spirits.

In my Mouth 49/60

The nose prepared me for the onslaught from the bottle.  My palate was filled with a triumvirate of heavy smoke, heavy oak, and 92 proof alcohol.  It pretty much knocked my taste buds back and disabled them to the other nuances.  It was not until I rested my palate, and added an ice-cube that I was able to taste the other nuances of the dram.

The ice instantly made the whisky creamy ans a light sweetness became apparent.  Organic boggy peat, caramel and vanilla all made their presence felt, but oak and smoke still dominated.  The smokey flavour carried dried fruits like raisins and currants, with a strong dose of prunes.

In the Throat 12.5/15

The exit  was like the entry, heavy and hard.  The smoke never stopped and neither did the heavy oak resins and tannin.  Only with the addition of ice were the sweeter flavours apparent on the finish.

The Afterburn  8.5/10

I was not disappointed with my impulse purchase.  When one buys a 25-year-old Scotch Whisky one expects intense flavour and richness.  A typical 25 year Old Scotch from a brand Distillery would normally cost twice the price of my Mortlach 1979, so I am well pleased.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Cocktails:

A 25 Year old Single Malt Scotch is a nice challenge to mix suitably.  I’ll start simply with  Mortlach on Ice.

Mortlach on Ice

1 1/2 oz  Mortlach 1979
Twist of Lemon
Dash of Sugar Syrup

Build on ice
Garnish with Lemon Slice

Now I’m going to go in a traditional direction and build a Rusty Nail.

Mortlach 1979 Rusty Nail

1 Oz Mortlach 1979
1 oz Drambuie
Cracked Ice

Build on ice in a Rocks Glass

And finally something original that you won’t find in your cocktail books:

Mean Streets 1
an original cocktail by chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)

1 1/2 oz Mortlach 1979
3/4 oz Bombay Blue Sapphire Gin
3/8 oz Grand Curacao
Juice from 1/2 Grapefruit

Build in a shaker with ice
Shake until chilled
Strain into a suitable glass


An Alternate construction….


Mean Streets 2
an original cocktail by chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)

1 1/2 oz Mortlach 1979
3/4 oz Bombay Blue Sapphire Gin
3/8 oz Grand Curacao
Juice from 1/2 Grapefruit

Build on ice in a Rocks Glass
Garnish with a slice of lime


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74   Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79   You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84   We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89   Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94   Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+        I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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