Whisky Focus - New Mortlach Whisky Range Launched Again

New Mortlach Whisky Range Launched Again

2nd August 2018
Mortlach has launched a new whisky range comprising of a 12, 16 and 20 year old expression after whisky drinkers had turned their back on the previous range.

The new Mortlach whisky range - Mortlach 12 Year Old  ‘Wee Witchie’, Mortlach 16 Year Old ‘Distiller’s Dram’ and Mortlach 20 Year Old ‘Cowie’s Blue Seal’

Just over four years ago the Mortlach distillery owners, Diageo, discontinued the outstanding Mortlach 16 year old Flora & Fauna bottling which was very popular with whisky fans and replaced it with a Mortlach core range of four single malt whiskies. Following the launch of the new Mortlach whisky range they put in a lot of effort into promoting the new range to whisky fans even hiring a dedicated Mortlach brand ambassador and sending them on a world tour to try sell the new Mortlach range to whisky enthusiasts.

But in the eyes of most whisky enthusiasts there was simply too many things wrong with the Mortlach range launched in 2014, firstly they bottled the four new whiskies in 50cl bottles and tried to justify this by saying that this was due to limited stock availability which may have been fine if the pricing of the new whiskies reflected the smaller size of the bottles but the pricing was quite the opposite and the whisky was considered hugely overpriced by whisky enthusiasts. To top all these faults the whiskies themselves were not the greatest in terms of quality with the entry level Rare Old being anything but rare or old, the Special Strength and 18 Year Old were not much better in quality. The Mortlach 25 was apparently outstanding but well out of most whisky drinkers reach with a £600 price tag.

Four years on and Diageo are trying to put this right, they have now discontinued the Mortlach Special Strength, Rare Old, 18 Year Old and 25 Year Old and have unveiled another new Mortlach range but will it capture the interest and admiration of whisky drinkers in the way the Mortlach 16 year old Flora & Fauna bottling once did?

The new range is comprised of three new expressions which I am pleased to say are all presented in 70cl bottles and all carry a clear age statement, the three new bottlings are the Mortlach 12 Year Old  ‘Wee Witchie’, Mortlach 16 Year Old ‘Distiller’s Dram’ and Mortlach 20 Year Old ‘Cowie’s Blue Seal’. In addition there will also be a Mortlach 14 Year Old  ‘Alexander’s Way’ which will be exclusive to Global Travel Retail.

The Mortlach 12 Year Old ‘Wee Witchie’ was aged in a combination of American and European oak ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks and bottled at 43.4% ABV.

It is described as "most expressive on the mid-palate where you pick out bitter chocolate, marmalade and light tobacco that’s balanced by a puddle of syrup before it deepens further".

The Mortlach 12 will be priced around £50.

The Mortlach 16 Year Old ‘Distiller’s Dram’ was aged in a combination of Refill and First-Fill European oak Sherry oak casks and bottled at 43.4% ABV.

Described as "chewy-mid palate where the darker fruits lurk. It then goes deep. Light, slightly leathery with malty elements then a gamey meatiness with supple tannins. However, rather than just the more powerful oak influence beginning to dominate the cooked fruits return adding a layered quality. Rather than sweetness you get a more savoury effect. Dark, full, liquorish, and rounded."

The Mortlach 16 will be priced around £80.

The Mortlach 20 Year Old ‘Cowie’s Blue Seal’ sits at the top of the new range, it is  aged in European oak Sherry oak casks with more Refill casks in the mix this time and again bottled at 43.4% ABV.

Described as "refreshing lift of aromatic and overripe fruits (quince especially) and a touch of spiciness. It then expands as the fruits dry and the oils start to coat the tongue. The meaty element comes in quickly here, full-on grunt with animalic edges, cured leather and light bitter notes that bring to mid nutshell, espresso crema, damson jam, cacao nibs all balanced with some hedgerow berry fruits meaning that the back palate has a brighter lift than you might expect from something which is so dense and meaty (think of a berry sauce with venison). As it develops so this back palate shows more roasting tin elements, some bark. It continues to extend into dried fruits."

The Mortlach 20 will be priced around £200

Mortlach is genuinely a rather unusual Scotch whisky distillery, known for its unusual partial-triple distillation process often described as ‘2.81 Distilled’, it was the first distillery to be built at Dufftown back in 1823. The whisky it produces is often referred to as the Beast of Dufftown due to its rich, often sherry cask matured style and hopefully this new Mortlach range comes up to the quality we know the distillery is capable of producing.

I haven't yet had the chance to taste any of the new Mortlach range so I cannot comment on its quality, will the new Mortlach 16 ‘Distiller’s Dram’ come anywhere near the quality of the old Flora & Fauna bottling, time will tell and I will certainly update you with my opinion when I get a chance to taste the new whiskies.

The new expressions will be launched initially in Taiwan this autumn, followed by other markets and will be available from specialist online whisky retailers such as The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt

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