Origin: Speyside (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing barrel: Ex-Sherry and ex-Bourbon
Additional coloring: Yes
Average price: € 45.00
Official website: www.malts.com
Mortlach is a distillery with a very peculiar recent history, but first let’s have a quick look at its origins.
Founded in Dufftown (where it still resides) in 1823 by James Findlater in place of a clandestine distillery, it was the town’s first legal distillery, joined about sixty years later by Glenfiddich, whose founder worked at Mortlach for about twenty years.
The production was initially rather elitist, both in price and quantity, partly due to the almost total absence of communication routes to facilitate distribution, and over the years it even began to produce beer.
Many changes of hands, as often happened in those days, until 1896, when Mortlach became the property of Alexander Mitchell Cowie, who took it over from his father George, and under his guidance the distillery experienced a period of great expansion, as well as introducing the 2.81 times distillation, still used today.
In 1923 the distillery was acquired by John Walker and Sons, and later became part of the Diageo package.
Mortlach’s fate in the hands of the beverage giant seemed to be limited to inclusion in their blends, with only one original edition (a 16 year old from the Flora&Fauna line) and many successful productions by independent bottlers.
As Diageo are no fools, noticing the label’s growing popularity, in 2014 they decided to take advantage of the moment by coming out with a series of NAS and declared ages (Mortlach Rare Old, Mortlach Special Strength, Mortlach 18 and Mortlach 25) at somewhat inflated prices, so much so that in 2018 they came to their senses, completely revising the core range (12, 16 and 20 years) and bringing it down to more humane prices.
Each of the new bottles has a nickname, this 12 year old is nicknamed “The Wee Witchie” after the smaller still used in the distillation.
The nose is initially a little closed, but with patience it reveals a very sherried nose: plum, ripe banana, pear, candied orange, a touch of cinnamon. Honey. Waxy texture with a slight alcoholic bite. A substantial woody presence is perceived on the length.
Warm and vinous mouthfeel, fruity with spicy touches, quite linear. Butter biscuits, honey, vanilla, ripe peach, hazelnuts, cinnamon and sultanas. Pinch of lemon. All very calm and well-blended.
Medium long finish of wood, dried fruit, malt.
Without infamy and without praise, a little task well done that doesn’t shine in any aspect, given the cost all things considered reasonable it can also be tolerated, if it had been priced as in the early days would have been to discard altogether.
The Whiskey Jug