Diageo Reboots Its Mortlach Scotch Whisky Line Up - The Whiskey Wash

Diageo Reboots Its Mortlach Scotch Whisky Line Up

By Nino Marchetti / August 11, 2018

Diageo’s Mortlach distillery, affectionally dubbed “The Beast of Dufftown” in reference to the region of Scotland it heralds from, was the darling of its parent company’s eye back in early 2014. Its single malt whiskies went through a slick packaging redesign and branding campaign, among other changes. The subsequent years were not as kind to the brand though, with reported consumer backlash around various issues. Diageo is now back with Mortlach once again with yet another line up overhaul.

The new Mortlach line up, according to those behind it, will focus on three core bottlings – 12-year-old Wee Witchie, 16-year-old Distiller’s Dram and 20-year-old Cowie’s Blue Seal. All of them are getting new labeling, though the bottle design generally looks to remain the same. All are also produced through the distillery’s “2.81 times distillation process,” said to be a closely guarded distilling secret handed down through generations of Mortlach distillers. We’ve touched on this concept before in case you want to understand it a little more.

The revamped Mortlach line up for 2018 (image via Diageo)

“It’s an honour to work in a distillery with such a distinct heritage and I love the challenge that comes with it,” said Mark Brunton, Mortlach distillery manager, in a prepared statement. “We worked with our colleagues in maturation to create a diverse range with each at its heart still reflecting the bold distillery flavour. The 16-year-old is a classic Mortlach expression, while the 12-year-old offers a strong distillery character through its use of refill casks. The 20-year-old offers a balance of character and distillery character with active wood.”

Plans call for the Mortlach 12-year-old (43.4% ABV), 16-year-old (43.4% ABV) and 20-year-old (43.4% ABV) to first launch in Taiwan in autumn, followed by other markets. They will price for £50 (about $65 USD), £80 (about $105 USD) and £200 (about $260 USD), respectively. We’ve included official brief tasting notes for each below for your consideration.

  • Mortlach 12 Year Old: It’s at its 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…
  • Mortlach 16 Year Old: Dark, full, liquorous, and rounded. As it moves into the back palate, so it starts to dry and pick up in terms of intensity…
  • Mortlach 20 Year Old: The mature depth seen on the nose comes immediately into focus, but before it goes towards the dark there’s a refreshing lift of aromatic and overripe fruits (quince especially) and a touch of spiciness…