The Mortlach distillery lies in Speyside’s spiritual heartland, Dufftown, and holds the honour of being the first legal distillery to be built there. It was founded in 1823 - the year of the Excise Act - by James Findlater and, a year later, Donald Macintosh and Alexander Gordon joined him in ownership. Mortlach proffers a classic Speyside flavour, though the set up is far from typical; there are three wash stills and three spirit stills with a combined total capacity of 2.91 million litres annually.
Over the years, various distillery managers have altered the shape and design, something rather unheard of in Scotch whisky production. Mortlach boasts five onsite warehouses with a combined space for 21,000 casks. In 1831, the distillery was acquired by John Robertson for £270 and subsequently it was sold a year later to A & T Gregory. In 1937, Aberlour’s Grant brothers, John and James, acquired the distillery, dismantling the equipment for use at the 1840-built Glen Grant distillery. The Mortlach distillery lay silent.
John Alexander Gordon joined the brothers in 1842 and it was not until almost a decade later that Mortlach distilled once more. Whilst the stills enjoyed their proverbial sabbatical, the site was used not only as a brewery but also, rather curiously, as a church. When production resumed in 1851 the whisky was sold as The Real John Gordon. In 1923, John Walker and Sons acquired the distillery from then owner Alexander Cowie and two years later, they in turn became part of Distillers Company Limited, and subsequently Scottish Malt Distillers and then Diageo. There have been a few official releases as well as a selection of independent bottlings.