How Mortlach Distillery Makes its Unique and Expressive Whiskies
There is a lot that goes into the making of a great whisky. But for storied Scottish whisky brand Mortlach Distillery, which was established in the small town of Dufftown in Speyside in 1823, the answer to creating an extraordinary expression begins with its unique and somewhat peculiar distillation process that they've aptly dubbed The Way.
This process was invented by Dr Alexander Cowie in 1896 and has remained unchanged. Simply put, unlike traditional single malt distilleries, which double or even triple distil their whiskies, Mortlach Distillery’s master blender Craig Wilson and his team distil the prized spirit a precise 2.81 times.
It’s a distinctive way of making single malt Scottish whiskies where a series of six different copper pipes and stills are used to perfect this complex formula, the smallest of which is called The Wee Witchie that's used to distill a small but critical portion, what they like to call the final “touch of magic”.
While the science behind this distillation process remains a well-guarded secret, the team asserts that this step reveals the dark and earthy, complex and rich characters of the whisky. What's also unique is the fact that these traits are typical of Highland whiskies rather than the whisky's fellow Speyside variants, which are known for their mellow and fruity nuances. Thus, it helps explain how Mortlach Distillery earned the moniker, The Beast of Dufftown.
For 70 years, Mortlach was only used as part of a blend to create some of the finest Scotch whiskies. That all changed in 1992 when the distillery decided to release the first bottling of the 16 year old, aged in 100 per cent ex-sherry casks. The brand's 16 Year Old Distiller’s Dram was inspired by the original release, and whisky lovers can’t get enough of its rich and complex balance of sweet and spicy notes.
Another of its special release is the 20 Year Old Cowie’s Blue Seal, whose inspiration came from Dr Alexander Cowie’s private stock of premium whisky that dates back to 1909. Matured in ex-sherry and whisky refill casks, the whisky boasts savoury notes of cedarwood and aromatic citrus, as well as cocoa nibs and berries. It’s best served with a few drops of water to help create that explosion of flavours in the mouth.
Mortlach's rich legacy is unmistakable. And if there's one expression that helps spotlight its unique contribution, it would be the 12 Year Old ‘Wee Witchie', which pays tribute to the copper stills forged more than 120 years ago. Aged in ex-sherry and ex-bourbon barrels, the flavours are rich and elegant, with hints of light spice, dark chocolate and berries that make it one of the distillery’s finest creations to date.
The Mortlach whiskies are distributed by Octopus Distribution Networks and are available for purchase on luxglove.com.
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