Founded in 1823 by James Findlater and known as “The Beast of Dufftown” due to the meaty style of its whisky, Mortlach was the first distillery to be built in Dufftown. It was designed and built by the entrepreneurial Scottish civil engineer George Cowie and his son Dr Alexander Cowie. George became a partner in the Mortlach distillery in 1852, before becoming sole owner in 1867. Following his death in 1896 his son Alexander returned from Hong Kong to manage the distillery. It is Alexander who introduced the complicated and unique distillation process, described as being ‘2.81 Distilled’ and still used at Mortlach to this day.
Mortlach presently has six stills, all different shapes and sizes, which are operate under a very complex distillation system with three wash stills, the first and second of which work as a pair. The third wash still works as a pair wit the third spirit still.
In April 2013, Mortlach’s owners, Diageo, announced they were investing £30 million ($48.5 million) to double the distillery’s capacity from 3.7 million litres per annum to just over 7 million with the building of a new still house due to come on stream in November 2015. The release of four new Mortlach expressions followed in August 2014.
The beautifully packaged glass and metal, Art Deco styled expressions released in 2014 are widely recognised as being more elegant than previous meaty, heavy, heavily sherried, sulfur-influenced bottlings such as the now discontinued 16 year old Flora & Fauna (of which just 800 cases where released each year).