MORTLACH 21 YEAR OLD 1999 (Special Release 2020)
MORTLACH 21 YEAR OLD 1999 (Special Release 2020) has had a lot of love from Diageo over the past few years. First, the distillery’s whisky was shifted into the limelight as the company’s flagship premium range. It was a move which led to a step down a few years later when it didn’t do as well as expected, and a new range was launched, focused on sherry maturation. Then came last year’s 26-year-old sherried dram in the Special Releases, sticking with the the rest of the range’s style. So what do we have here? Another sherried edition.
Unlike with last year’s sherry-heavy release, this time Craig Wilson has focused on a sweeter and more elegant side of the distillery’s nature. The casks are just used for finishing, and their influence has been appropriately dialled down. Mortlach brings bold flavour to Speyside. In a region generally known for its smoother, gentler style of whisky, Mortlach’s exceptional flavour bridges the gap between mellow and smoky. A 190 year secret amongst whisky epicureans across the globe, Mortlach has been nicknamed ‘The Beast of Dufftown’ by Dave Broom for its robust, muscular and rich character created from the very unique 2.81 distillation process – a magnificent feat unto itself.
Established in 1823 by James Findlater in the wake of the Excise Act, on the site of an older illicit distillery, Mortlach was the first legal distillery in Dufftown. It was the only distillery in Dufftown until Glenfiddich was founded in 1887. Glenfiddich founder William Grant, worked at Mortlach distillery for 20 years previous to this. Back then the output was about 50 gallons per week and it was generally sold direct off the still in 9 or 10 gallon casks to the very few well-to-do local gentry who could afford it. The price was about 9\-per gallon duty paid. There were few roads of any consequence and delivery was usually by pack pony over the rough hill tracks. In its early years, between 1823 and 1853 the distillery passed from owner to owner, at one point even becoming a brewery. In 1853, engineer George Cowie, who had worked with Thomas Grainger and John Miller, joined John Gordon as owner of the distillery.