Mortlach distillery is located in Dufftown, Keith, Banffshire and was founded in 1823 by James Findlater, although 1824 saw Alexander Gordon & James Macintosh become partners.

Distilling ceased at Mortlach after about a decade and fell silent as a distillery, although it was used as a brewery for some years until John Gordon took over, installing new equipment and reopening the distillery in 1852.

George Cowie joined John Gordon in 1854 and created a new company John Gordon & Co.


When John Gordon passed away in 1867 George Cowie became sole owner and then in 1895 his son George Cowie Junior joined the company.

1897 saw the number of stills doubled from three to six and at the same time a railway siding was added which connected Mortlach distillery to the Dufftown railway station.

In 1923 the Cowie family sold Mortlach to John Walker & Sons who in turn eventually became part of DCL in 1925, then SMD in 1930 and is today part of Diageo.



Photos by Whisky Emporium photography


More great distillery info here, thanks to Malt Madness




Mortlach (OB)

General whisky characteristics: Rich, complex, sherry, fruit and flora


Mortlach, 16y, Flora & Fauna, 43% ABV

Original cost of this bottle;


Nose: Sherry, wood and raisins.

Palate: Sherry and wood come to the fore, but there is also a presence almost of tangerine zest. The finish is short as it quickly fades.

Overall Impression: A flavoursome dram, albeit with a weak and short finish.



Mortlach, 16y, Flora & Fauna, 43% ABV

2011 edition?

Original cost of this bottle;

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Light sunny amber

Nose: Lots of wood and resin notes here with a sense of freshly cut aged oak. The whisky then opens further to offer hints of aroamtic grasses and hay in an old barn. Then further with slightly bitter damson and plum.

Palate: A very smooth and creamy mouth-feel with flavours of aged oak, plums, figs and something I can't quite place but it suggests slightly sharp (as in bitter - spicy) fruit. The whole palate is realyl quite rich.

Finish: Medium to long.

Overall Impression: An enjoyable rich whisky, maybe just a little unbalanced with that bitterness.





Mortlach (IB)



G&M "Book of Kells" series, Mortlach, 50y, 40% ABV

Distilled December 1942, bottled January 1993

Original cost of this bottle; Unknown, but I suspect to

Dram-atics "Classics" review


Glass: Glencairn

Colour: Teak or subdued amber.

Nose: A
n initial fruitiness combines plums with dark cherries alongside antique oak. It also suggests an oiliness or waxiness which is surprisingly meaty too.

Palate: A distinct nuttiness offers hazelnut and almond (marzipan) with that oakiness. There is even a gentle herbal quality to this excellent whisky.

Finish: Creamy, delicate and really quite gentle.

Overall Impression: For such an aged whisky this is surprisingly light and delicate. Yes, the characteristic is of richer elements, but in a delightfully gentle way. I must also offer my heartfelt thanks to fellow Maniac Ulf who brought this to our 15y Anniversary in Scotland where we enjoyed it one evening as an after dinner malt. Thank you Ulf for your generosity and a truly excellent whisky.



C&S Dram Collection, Mortlach, 16y, bottled 2008,  58% ABV

Cask #4232 (sherry Butt),

Original cost of this bottle;


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich gold

Nose: Sweet rubber and seaweed on an Atlantic beach with overtones of smoky toffee after some minutes.

Palate: A sweet roast beef sandwich with a cherry sauce.

With 4 drops of water: Sweeter with more toffee

Finish: Long

Overall Impression: What a different, but really good dram and excellent value for money!



G&M, Mortlach, 12y, early 1970's bottling with white label

Original cost of this bottle;


Nose: Amazing. Not only sherry and almonds, but lilac and hints of lavender. This is an extremely aromatic Mortlach!

Palate: It does have that gentle Christmas Cake sensation. One of currants, raisins, nuts, sherry and maybe even black cherries in the background. But all this is overlayed with that wonderfully aromatic, perfumed lilac and lavender. Not heavily, but it is present and makes for a really good dram. If anything the actual feel of the whisky in the mouth is a little watery or thin, but the flavour more than makes up for that.

Overall Impression: I really like Mortlach in general, but if only they still made them like this! I want more



D. Laing 'Old Malt Cask', Mortlach, distilled March 1984, 50% ABV

Original cost of this bottle;

The photo show the general OMC presentation and is not this Mortlach


Nose: A hard one to identify fully, some citrus and flora with hints of smoke

Palate: Some spice, orange and other faint citrus notes. However, the big surprise here was its similarity to a Caol Ila. I often say that CI reminds me of the peat-smoking chimneys of the Yorkshire Dales. Well, this was just like that.

Overall Impression: Deceptively good!



SMCC, Mortlach, distilled 1989, bottled 2001, cask #259 (sherry), 54.6% ABV

Single Malt Connoisseur's Club (Munich)

Original cost of this bottle;


Glass: My beloved Spiegelau

Colour: Wonderfully rich gold, just like a sherry cask should be.

Nose: Marzipan, nuts and raisins. All bound together in a bunch of fresh herbs with just a faint dash of mint. The more I nose it, the more the herbs fade and give way to the marzipan and nuts. There's still a little sting here, even after 6 or 7 nosings. My mouth is watering as I long to taste this one!

Palate: Different, very different, but very good. What do I mean? Firstly, it's creamy, very creamy. It initially hits the palate with a burst of tingle, which fades quite quickly, then returns with a vengeance. At the same time, the initial flavour is one of nuts and raisins with a little marzipan. This also fades quickly, but almost immediately returns with double strength (of flavour).

The finish is long, very long. But the flavours change as the seconds pass. The nuts and marzipan suddenly give way to a burst of those fresh herbs where violet is pushed to the fore, just for a second or two. The whole thing then just fades slowly into a very long and pleasant experience.

Overall Impression: I want more!



Mortlach, 18y, 1991-2009, 56.9% ABV

Bottled for

Original cost of this bottle; to (I believe)

  Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Very rich and dark, almost treacle toffee

Nose: Lots of floral wood, traditional wax polish, aromatic dark fruits and overall, slightly dry.

Palate: Rich, creamy and quite 'solid' in flavour with aromatic dark fruits, some coconut then woody and quite nutty.

Finish: Long and quite perfumed.

Overall Impression: Positively delightful, aromatic, lively but not too complex.



Mortlach, 12y, 23.6.1993 - 13.12.2005, 46% ABV

Sherry Cask No.5213, bottled for

Original cost of this bottle;


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Shiny light amber

Nose: Very fresh outdoors style with lots of open countryside and ligthly perfumed grasses. This is merged with the fruitiness of passion fruit and guava alongside finest traditional furniture polish.

Palate: Fresh and fruity countryside with hints of coconut. Also slightly dry and slightly metallic towards the finish.

Finish: Long and dry.

Overall Impression: A most unusual Mortlach; light, fruity, dry and slightly metallic? But still pretty good!



Signatory, Mortlach, 20y, 17.9.1990 - 18.1.2011, 57.9% ABV

Cask Strength edition, refill sherry butt No.6069, bottle 308 of 521

Original cost of this bottle;

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Golden amber, perhaps light teak.

Nose: Rich and glowing bonfire embers with a definite floral character. Toasted currants and recently polished antique oak. This is an extremely vibrant but rich nose which fades only very slowly over time.

Palate: Delightfully creamy mouth-feel just before a massive burst of toasted oak and currants takes over. This expands to become slightly peppery and then even offers a faint suggestion of coconut towards the finish.

Finish: Long, very long, oaky, nutty and even that suggestion of coconut.

Overall Impression: A wonderful example of Mortlach.



MMcD, Mortlach, 13y, 1997, 46% ABV, one of 485 bottles

Bourbon / Sauternes cask No.001, finished (sorry ACE'd) in Chateau D'Yquem

Original cost of this bottle;

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Light amber

Nose: Vanilla with hints of raspberry. The vanilla then intensifies and gains a slight leafiness which also continues to expand with time in the glass. Eventually there'
s a hint of apple & peach.

Palate: Initially creamy and slightly leafy vanilla. This 'grows' very rich to suggest liquorice. There's also a slight suggestion of smokiness although the creamy vanilla is always present in the background.

Finish: Medium to long and slightly dry.

Overall Impression: There's lots happening here, but perhaps the orchestra isn't quite in time with each other. It's just a little unbalanced.




Sestante, Mortlach, 21y, 1997, 40% ABV

Original cost of this bottle; Unknown, now a collectible

Live Dram-atics review


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Bright cork

The nose initially offers a musty woodiness but this soon expands to what I can only describe as roast beef which is soon combined with a quite unique creaminess, could it even be yorkshire pudding? Oh my goodness, what more could a Yorkshireman dream of? Sadly this soon fades and returns to a musty leafiness. Was I dreaming?

Very light, leafy and musty, in fact it's almost farmy, but not quite. It's more 'outdoors' and open countryside than cowshed

Finish: Long

Overall Impression:
A light 'outdoors' whisky which, thanks to that roast beef and yorkshire pudding is most unusual, but most welcome.



Chieftain's, Mortlach, 18y, 57.6% ABV

Distilled April 1997, bottled November 2015

First fill sherry butt No.5242, one of 629 bottles

Bottled for Taiwan, Tiger's finest selection No.8

Original cost of this bottle;

  Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Treacle toffee

Nose: Surprisingly fresh, herbal fresh with accompanying hints of banana stem and almost, but not quite liquorice root.

Palate: Mouth-warming as it spreads across the palate and a definite suggestion of liquorice root. After 3-4 minutes in the glass it turns more herbal as per the nose.

Finish: Long with that freshness and liquorice root.

Overall Impression: Surprising with that herbal freshness and liquorice root, really enjoyable.




Chieftain's, Mortlach, 18y, 58% ABV

Distilled April 1997, bottled November 2015

Sherry butt No.5238, one of 623 bottles

Bottled for Asia Palate Assoc. Taiwan

Original cost of this bottle;

  Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich, dark treacle toffee.

Nose: Very intense with a dark fruitiness (raisins, prunes, dates), then some woodiness, leather and old dusty books.

Palate: A surprisingly creamy but peppery mouth-feel, lots of that dark fruitiness from the nose making it sweet and rich. Lovely.

Finish: Extremely long.

Overall Impression: What an excellent sherry cask whisky.



SMWS, Mortlach, 19y, 58.1% ABV

SMWS 76.100 "Cherry Walnut Loaf"

Original cost of this bottle; Unknown

  Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich and dark, Teak? Almost dark Amber

Nose: Ahhh that comforting sherry cask aroma of mild furniture polish with accompanying toasted nuttiness, dark fruits (currants, raisins dark cherries) and a wonderful mild perfume in background.

Palate: Woody, nutty and lots of those dark fruits, so obviously a typical sherried Mortlach which is mouth-coatingly big on the palate.

Finish: Very very long and luxurious.

Overall Impression: Delightful Mortlach oozing character.








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