Welcome to the best kept secret in Scottish whisky! An almost 200 year-old distillery, founded on the site of an illicit still, and the oldest in Dufftown that uses it’s own, idiosyncratic ‘2.81 times distillation process’ to produce a whisky that doesn’t rely on peat to make it huge. Add to that this whisky is also exclusively aged in first fill and refill sherry casks! That’s right – for September we have a bona fide sherry-bomb – the Mortlach 15 year old from Gordon & MacPhails ‘Distillery Labels’ collection.
Mortlach’s bold flavour profile has seen it dubbed “The Beast of Dufftown” and is said to exist somewhere in between mellow and smoky. In a region renowned for its mellower, gentler ‘whisky-vibe’, Mortlach stands out for it’s robust, muscular and rich character. Enjoy!
Mortlach’s celebrated characteristic ‘biglyness’ (to paraphrase a current world leader) is the result of two factors. First is the unique ‘2.81x’ distillation method and the second is the ‘worm-tub’ condensers used in the production.
The ‘2.81x’ distillation is the result of clever utilisation of the 6 stills (3 wash and 3 spirit stills). It’s a difficult to explain concept in words – but makes much more sense when shown in a diagram.
The basic gist of the process is some spirit is effectively 3 times distilled, and some is 2 times distilled. The combination of these in specific amounts creates a (mathematical) 2.81 distillation figure. Now I know that explanation is going to infuriate some of our members with its obvious shallowness – but there are many explanations much better than I could ever pen available on the interweb. And I’m not going to even go near the ‘is it 2.81 times … or actually 2.7 times distilled?’ debate that rages amongst some of the more mathematically minded whisky drinkers out there. The effect of the process (and the most important part), however – is to produce a new make spirit which has plenty of savoury, meaty ‘oomph’.
This ‘2.81 distillation’ is also paired with a ‘worm tub’ condenser. The relevance of the worm tub is that it contains less copper for the new make to interact with. And the new-make/copper interaction removes heavy, sulphuric compounds. Less copper in the ‘worm tubs’ means less of this interaction, thus more of these flavour compounds. These notes are what give the Mortlach 15 year old spirit it’s ‘bigger, meatier than your usual Speyside whisky’ character.
Ok, so onto the most important part of the 2.81 times distillation process … what does the Mortlach 15 year old taste like?
Colour: Bright Gold
Nose: Sultanas, stewed fruit, citrus and a malty punch
Palate: Nice syrupy mouthfeel. Lots of stewed fruit salad, biscuit spices and some vanilla.
Finish: Long and warming with waves of fruit and pepper.