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Mortlach whisky’s new bottles revealed

Following last year’s announcement by brand owner Diageo of the rebirth of Mortlach Scotch whisky, the Speyside single malt has been given new, highly distinctive, engineered style bottles.

In 1823 Mortlach was the first distillery to be built at Dufftown, now one of the epicentres of Speyside whisky distilling. Its most eminent owners were the entrepreneurial Scottish civil engineer George Cowie, and his gifted and equally ambitious son Dr Alexander Cowie.

In tribute to these distinguished pioneers, the design style of the new packaging is rooted in an engineered world, reminiscent of beautiful man-made structures, while also elegant, luxurious and contemporary.

The bottles, carton and accompanying glasses were designed in New York City by leading French/US design agency Raison Pure, and overseen by the agency's founding partner Laurent Hainaut.

The engineering cues incorporated in the bottle design are most visible in the unique faceted base of the Rare Old & Special Strength bottles, while the metal structures of the 18 and 25 year-old bottles protect, enhance and display the fine single malts they contain. The design of the metal structures has been inspired by some of the great engineering feats of the Victorian period, especially the cantilever bridge design made famous on Scotland’s very own Forth Road Bridge.

Georgie Bell, global brand ambassador for Mortlach, said: “Mortlach whiskies are a celebration of those audacious thinkers who shape and make today’s world, just as their forefathers did in the era in which Mortlach was born. These spectacular bottles help tell that story.” 

Limited supply

Four new Mortlach variants are designed for global travellers and for connoisseur Scotch whisky drinkers. Due to the very limited supplies of this unique liquid, these new expressions of Mortlach will be sold in 50cl bottles, except for the US where for legal reasons 750 ml bottles will be used.

In the early years, the distribution of these rare and prestigious whiskies will focus on carefully selected cities. They will first be available in London and Berlin in June, and in a small number of global travel retail channels. They will then roll out - again in very restricted volumes - to the cosmopolitan cities of Asia-Pacific in August (for example Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, Melbourne) and at the same time to New York, Chicago and San Francisco in the US.

Distillery expansion

Meanwhile, to build more stocks of Mortlach for the years ahead, plans are progressing for the expansion of Mortlach distillery with all the strong purpose, ingenuity and attention to detail of the Cowies, doubling the distillery’s capacity. 

The expansion will include the building of a new stillhouse. This will replicate the bewilderingly complex process with which Alexander paved the way - a unique distillation system (which commentators have attempted to explain as ‘2.81 Distilled’)  precisely calculated to create this celebrated, highly complex and richly flavoured whisky.  Mortlach has been described by whisky connoisseurs as “The Beast of Dufftown” for its rich and powerful flavours.

Mortlach new expressions

Mortlach Special Strength (travel retail exclusive) is a big, warming cask strength liquid with a complicated yet harmonious mix of young vanilla and mature oak, underscored by roasted aromatics and a long, pervasive and smooth finish

Mortlach Rare Old is a complex and bold expression with Mortlach’s signature exquisite balance of sweetness and dryness for which the distillery is renowned. Superbly structured and well balanced, the whisky’s fruit and floral notes on the nose introduce a rich, energetic palate and a pleasantly drying finish

Mortlach 18 Year Old is a compelling and moreish expression which is best enjoyed straight. Characterised by a fine interplay of meaty notes, malty sweetness and balancing acidity

Highly complex and multi-faceted, Mortlach 25 Year Old combines roasting spices and an almost animal intensity with dense layers of decadent sweetness.

The guideline pricing will be £55 for Rare Old, £180 for Mortlach 18 year old, and £600 for Mortlach 25 year old.  In global travel retail the Special Strength will be £75. (All prices shown are UK, prices for the US and other regions will be announced later).


10 March 2014 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor