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The History Of Mortlach

People and places don't just shape a Single Malt Scotch Whisky's flavour. They change the course of its future. Get a taste of how the whisky you love today came to be, with this brief Mortlach timeline.

1823

1823

Following the new Excise Act, which makes duty on alcohol more affordable, Mortlach becomes the first legal distillery in Dufftown, built by James Findlater on the site of an old, illicit distillery.

1831

1831

After a slow start, the distillery is sold to John Robertson. This marks the first of many new owners.

1852

1852

Mortlach reopens as a distillery, with new equipment. Previous owners, John and James Grant, had taken the stills and left Mortlach silent, possibly to reduce competition for their own brands.

1853

1853

George Cowie, a railway surveyor who has helped build Britain’s infrastructure throughout most of his career, takes over – bringing the same level of skill and determination to the craft of distillation.

1869

1869

A local paper reports on Mortlach’s popularity, and reach to markets in America, India, China and Australia.

1896

1896

George’s son Alexander, a Doctor, returns from Hong Kong to Speyside, assuming control of the distillery when George Cowie dies at the age of 80. Alexander increases the number of stills from four to six – the two new stills are larger than the original four – and introduces the famous 2.81 distillation process.

1897

1897

A railway siding is added, linking Mortlach with Dufftown station.

1901

1901

Alexander becomes Chairman of the North Scotland Malt Distillers Association, representing over 40 distilleries.

1923

1923

Aged 62, Alexander retires, selling Mortlach to John Walker & Sons, which itself becomes part of the Distillers Company Ltd.

1933

1933

The repeal of the US Prohibition Act sees Mortlach once again sold across the water, in premium stores like Macy’s in New York.

1939

1939

Despite the war, Mortlach continues production.

1940

1940

Alexander Cowie dies at his home in Glenrinnes and is subsequently buried after a well attended funeral in Mortlach Kirk.

1964

1964

Mortlach Distillery is modernised. The mash-house and tun room are combined in an open plan, and the six stills, previously hand fired, are converted to a mechanical coal stoking system.

1986

1986

Mortlach continues to play an important role in some of the world’s finest blends and limited releases are made of its single malt, as a 16 year old.

2013

2013

Mortlach enters yet another new era, as the whisky is re-born in four unique expressions.