Mortlach was founded in Dufftown shortly after the Excise Act of 1823 significantly lowered the cost of a distilling license. The distillery suffered a somewhat tumultuous youth and appeared to have ran it’s course as early as 1837. Bought by brothers James and John Grant, the site was completely stripped of it’s equipment, which was then used to kit out their Glen Grant distillery in Rothes. The buildings, at least, were left intact however and were eventually purchased by one George Cowie in the early 1850’s. A new set of stills were installed and Mortlach distillery was reborn.
Mortlach is known to produce a whisky of extraordinary character which has long been cherished by blenders and bottlers alike. It’s strength as a blending component led John Walker & Sons to buy the distillery outright in 1923 and, like Walker, it is now part of Diageo.
In the last few years Mortlach has been rebranded and somewhat premiumised, with four expressions in the core range, ranging from £50 to £600. Fortunately for those of us who like a bargain, casks occasionally find their way to independent bottlers like Douglas Laing who have, on this occasion, bottled on behalf of the fine folks at the Good Spirits Co in Glasgow.
Matured for 8 years in a refill hogshead, this ‘Provenance’ Mortlach has been bottled, un-chill filtered, at a cask strength of 59.7%.
Smell: Tons of Fruit – Lemon, Apple, Pears and Pineapple with some Malty Biscuit and Vanilla. Almond, Oak Spice and Woody Pencil Shavings.
Taste: Vanilla, Honey and Citrus Fruits – Lemon and Orange, Salt and Spice.
Value for Money: I’ve come to expect quality from Douglas Laing and while the Provenance range is sort of the ‘bargain’ section of their single cask releases, the standard remains just as high. It should be noted that most of the Provenance range is bottled at 46% but this special edition for the Good Spirits Co has been released at full cask strength – without any drastic effect on cost. Bravo.
Score: 43.5 / 50. About the Scores…
Diageo rebranded Mortlach a few years back and priced much of the range beyond the means of the casual whisky drinker but the malt can still be found quite regularly in the stocks of bottlers like Laing and this one is quite a good example. A real character of a single malt.