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.
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.
After a slow start, the distillery is sold to John Robertson. This marks the first of many new owners.
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.
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.
A local paper reports on Mortlach’s popularity, and reach to markets in America, India, China and Australia.
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.
A railway siding is added, linking Mortlach with Dufftown station.
Alexander becomes Chairman of the North Scotland Malt Distillers Association, representing over 40 distilleries.
Aged 62, Alexander retires, selling Mortlach to John Walker & Sons, which itself becomes part of the Distillers Company Ltd.
The repeal of the US Prohibition Act sees Mortlach once again sold across the water, in premium stores like Macy’s in New York.
Despite the war, Mortlach continues production.
Alexander Cowie dies at his home in Glenrinnes and is subsequently buried after a well attended funeral in Mortlach Kirk.
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.
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.
Mortlach enters yet another new era, as the whisky is re-born in four unique expressions.