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2002 Mortlach 19 Year Manager's Dram Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review: Arm Wrestling with the Beast of Dufftown

Updated: Jul 3

Mortlach Distillery

Welcome to the first in a series of flash reviews featuring twelve Manager's Drams bottlings. Have you heard of "The Manager's Dram"? It's a little-known concept that has long since passed but is well worth exploring. While the legendary Manager’s Dram tasting sessions are now long discontinued, their spirit lives on within a group of passionate and wild whiskey misfits known as the Whisky Legends—more on this in a minute, up first: Mortlach Distillery.

Sometimes called the Beast of Dufftown, Mortlach is a distiller of Scotch whisky in Dufftown, Moray, Scotland (Speyside). Founded in 1823, the distillery is currently owned by Diageo. The whisky is well known to be a key component in several Johnnie Walker bottlings, and Diageo also markets four Mortlach single malts.

Established in 1823 by James Findlater in the wake of the Excise Act on the site of an older illicit distillery, Mortlach was the first legal distillery in Dufftown. It was the only distillery in town until Glenfiddich was founded in 1887. Glenfiddich founder William Grant worked at Mortlach Distillery and was even appointed the manager 20 years before this. For those who know or have tried, good luck trying to get a tour of this property…

At the latest Whisky Legends tasting, hosted by Gregory Cloyd, the Amongst the Whiskey Team (Nick Anderson & Jes Smyth, respectively) were fortunate enough to enjoy his beautiful garden during an evening of legendary tasting. We explored each distillery and its history as we tasted our way through an epic Manager's Dram lineup while sitting around a table with some of the best company in the world. It was a privilege to taste such rare whisky, and we are honored to share our tasting notes with you today. And tomorrow. And the next day until the lineup has been completed.


Company on Label: Mortlach Distillery

Whiskey Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Mash Bill Percentages: 100% malted barley

Proof: 111.6°

Age: 19 years (distilled in 1983 and bottled December 6th, 2002)

Further identification: On the front label: A 19 Year Old Refill cask whisky specially selected by Malt Distillery Managers within Diageo Distilling Ltd. and bottled at natural strength by Gordon Donoghue


Nick's Thoughts

Nose: Creamy sticks-in-your-nose goodness. Fatty wormtub whisky with a kiss of leather that pulls like a finger wrapped under a watch band, leading the observer to the thought of a comfortable bed. Warm barley and a touch of linen throughout.

Palate: Tea cakes, silky fresh cream, and caramel softies lead the way. Chantilly cream just sits in the mouth with a wonderful coating. It’s tingly in the gums with white pepper, but unmistakably creamy from start to finish.

Jes's Thoughts

Nose: Earthy and creamy with a slight hint of brightness, like sunlight filtering through a sky of leaves. Lemon drop candy and seaweed mix together with a whiff of warm and crusty sourdough bread.

Palate: So creamy with summer fruit and velvety caramel sauce. A deeper spice arrives later on the palate leaving tip of tongue tingles. The linger is toasted bread and hints of crushed red grapes.


Rating: 4/5

Nick & Jes agree; the creamy nose and palate won them over!


Written by: The Amongst the Whiskey Team





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