Mortlach Whisky

Mortlach has long been ranked Top Class by blenders, and since it is a key filling for the Johnnie Walker whiskies and has been promoted as a single malt by Diageo, its owner, since 2014, it is uncommon as an independent bottling. This single cask, bottled under Hunter Laing’s First Editions label, provides an interesting opportunity to taste it at a relatively young age.

Known locally as ‘The Beast of Dufftown’, Mortlach Distillery produces a famously rich spirit – often described as ‘meaty’ and smelling a bit like a roasting tin. A former owner, Dr. Alexander Cowie, told the Royal Commission on Whisky in 1908: “I am a malt distiller of highly flavoured whisky, a thick type of whisky.”

This young example is interesting, in that it has lost the heavy ‘meaty’ character – except for what I identify as ‘chicken stock’ (and even this is light), and has become more fragrant and estery (typical of Speyside malts). I guess it has been matured in refill American oak, when most single malt bottlings come from European oak, and this in itself demonstrates the spirit’s versatility.