In recent years the Speyside distillery’s heavy, dark whisky was reserved for blending and has only been made available in very limited numbers as a single malt, but the Dufftown site will now see capacity doubled from 3.8m to 7.6m litres in a project costing £18m.
From mid-2014 the distillery will be renewed and expanded, while the re-branded single-malt will be made available in global markets.
Mortlach single malt will be aimed at global travel retail and the luxury and connoisseur segments and will be released in four expressions: Rare Old, Special Strength, 18 YO and 25 YO.
Diageo will continue to use the distillery’s output for its blended whiskies.
Details of distribution and price will be disclosed in February 2014.
Rare Old (43% abv) will have an “affordable luxury price”, Nick Morgan, head of whiskies outreach at Diageo, told Drinks International, and has been aged in a combination of refilled and first fill American and European oak.
Special Strength (49% abv) is a higher proof version of Rare Old, the 18YO (43.4% abv) has been aged in first fill and refill European and American oak, while the 25YO (43.4% abv) was matured in American refill casks but has the character of European oak, said Morgan.
According to Diageo, Mortlach is produced by an “astonishingly complicated and unique distillation process”, which has been explained as ‘2.81 distilled’, as most but not all of the whisky is distilled three times.
Dave Broom, said of Mortlach single malt in his The World Atlas of Whisky (2010): "At its best in European oak - it has the muscle to cope - Mortlach has become a cult single malt, but is unlikely ever to be a front-line player because its individuality is too highly prized by blenders.
“This throwback to the old days, days before Dufftown even existed, is at the foundation of many famous blends. It is the dark reduction of whisky to some primal essence."