Four years ago, we took a deep dive into Mortlach‘s three new permanent expressions, part of Diageo making a new push to bring awareness to this fantastic brand. Now, they’re back at it with a fresh marketing push — and while the good news is we’re bringing you some fresh “Beast of Dufftown” reviews, the bad news is these are the same trio of whiskies — 12, 16, and 20 years old — we covered four years ago.
So, let’s get into it again. As a reminder, all three are wholly unpeated and are aged in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks.
All are 86.8 proof.
Mortlach 12 Years Old Wee Witchie (2023) – Bright and sweet, with notes of golden syrup, wood-driven vanilla, and chocolate touches. Some savory notes of mushroom and toasted oats offer a respite from the sweetness. Both sides of the equation carry over to the palate, which is rich and enveloping — classic Mortlach. A slight umami note rolls into a finish of coconut husk, gingerbread, and banana bread. No dramatic shifts from 4 years ago, it’s still a powerful and expressive whisky at an amazing price. A- / $55 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS] [BUY IT NOW FROM THE WHISKY EXCHANGE]
Mortlach 16 Years Old Distiller’s Dram (2023) – There’s something a little thin about this whisky, which wasn’t my favorite previously and remains so today. Sharper citrus notes are immediate, but there’s also a character here on the nose that reminds me not just of old wine but also of fresh soy. Orange and lime peel lead the way to some briny seaside notes, with a rather scattered mix of more umami-driven flavors coming on strong soon after — almonds, dried nori, and melba toasts. It’s brooding and moody — more than the other expressions — which is great if that’s what the night calls for. B+ / $110 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS] [BUY IT NOW FROM THE WHISKY EXCHANGE]
Mortlach 20 Years Old Cowie’s Blue Seal – Easily the softest of these whiskies, and one of the softest Mortlachs you’ll encounter anywhere. An easygoing, bourbon-heavy barrel influence kicks off the nose, offering notes of sesame and baking spice, followed by aromas of old wine and some wood polish. Quiet to the point of innocence on its palate, notes of shortbread cookies, nutty cinnamon bread, and pastry cream are dominant, fading to an evocative range of flavors, including lemony citrus, baked apples, and layers of dark chocolate. I worked my way through this sample over multiple nights and many hours and found it much more mature than in my last encounter — just about hitting its stride. Alas, unlike the other 2 whiskies in this lineup, the price here has skyrocketed in recent years. A- / $339 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS] [BUY IT NOW FROM THE WHISKY EXCHANGE] [BUY IT NOW FROM RESERVEBAR]