Master of Malt tastes the youngest offering in Mortlach’s core range, the meaty, sherried 12 Year Old! Let’s learn a bit more about the Beast of Dufftown, another top option for your Burns Night needs…
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Not your typical Speysider
When you hear the words ‘sherried Speyside whisky’, a host of flavours will likely spring to mind. Honey. Florals. Apples and pears. These are not typical Mortlach flavours, a distillery that is better known for its savoury, oily, meaty characteristics. Quintessential Speyside it is not.
There are a few reasons why Mortlach has this unique character. The first is the use of traditional worm tub condensers, named as such because they’re made up of long copper coiled tubes housed in a large vat of cold water. Because the cold water causes the vapour to condense pretty rapidly, the spirit isn’t allowed as much copper contact (as with the more modern shell and tube condenser), generally making for a heavier style of spirit.
The second is Mortlach’s 2.81 distillation process, created by Alexander Cowie nearly 200 years ago and known as ‘The Way’ (perhaps the Mandalorian would drink Mortlach?). It sounds a little crazy, but the maths does add up. Are you concentrating?
There are six stills, three wash stills and three spirit stills, all of different shapes and sizes. They work in multiple configurations, creating three different spirit characters which are blended together. For the third distillation, the heads from wash stills No.1 and No.2 are added to the hearts of the second distillation, and then a spirit cut is taken from spirit still No.1 (called the Wee Witchie) from every third run. It’s a little confusing, but it adds up to the new make spirit having been distilled 2.81 times.
The Wee Witchie is the nickname of Mortlach 12 Year Old, after the distillery’s smallest but most essential still. Matured in a combination of American oak bourbon and European oak sherry casks, it’s a spotlight on Mortlach’s rich distillery character, with robust meatiness, dried fruit, and cocoa. With Burns Night is on the horizon, Mortlach is worth considering.