I recently was given a very fun gift, a tour of Scotland with Scotch. My passion for wine is equal to my passion for Scotch. I know a whole lot more about wines, which isn’t that much, than I do Scotch. This doesn’t dampen my enjoyment of a good scotch.
I started my tasting trip with a Scotch I had not had before, Mortlach 12 year, then to Oban Little Bay.
Mortlach Distillery is in the Speyside region, outside Dufftown, and is considered one of the best kept secrets in Speyside. Distillation began in 1897 and is a unique and respected scotch. Mortlach, which was the original name of the village, was the first of seven distilleries in Dufftown which has a long history of distilling scotch. In the first 30 or so years it was bought and sold and bought and sold. In 1851, the distillery was up and running again under a partnership of the Grant brothers and John Alexander Gordon. This production was release as “The Real John Gordon.” In 1895, under George Cowie and his son, who joined the partnership, they doubled their stills from three to six. The distillery was again sold to John Walker and Sons in 1923. Eventually control was passed to the Distillery Company Limited and in 1930 they transferred the management to the Scottish Malt Distillers and then to Diageo.
The uniqueness of a Mortlach Scotch is that it is distilled 2.81 times, which is unusual. Aged in bourbon and sherry casks. The 2015 release did not incorporate peat in the distillation, which was a first since the distillery was built. They produce a 12 year, 16 & 20 year, a 26 year Special Release, a 15 year Six Kingdoms and a 21 year Special Release.
The Mortlach 12 years Old Wee Witchie is considered entry level. It is well rounded and smooth. Toasty notes of caramel, spice, honey, raspberry and a bit of vanilla. . It is very creamy with a medium long finish. This is a solid 12-year-old scotch with balance and flavor.
The Oban Distillery produces Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky from the West Highlands. Like most, Oban has a long history. The unique thing about Oban scotch is that the process of making their scotch has not changed since the beginning, in 1794. It is one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland, with only 7 men keeping the distillery running. These men are artisans who understand every step of the process, are guardians of the process and hand it down from generation to generation. Today they produce approximately 670,000 liters of scotch a year, that’s around 177,000 gallons.
The distillery was built prior to the town being built, by the Stevenson family. Over time the town grew around the distillery. While demand for Oban has increased the distillery has never expanded or moved from their original location. It has been sold many times over the years and is now owned by Diageo.
Oban in Gaelic means “Little Bay”. Today Oban sells a 14-year-old, 18-year-old, Little Bay, Distillers Edition. In 2002, Oban released a 32-year edition, however only 6000 bottles were produced. If you find a bottle it will cost a pretty penny, around $1900. In 2017, they received a 94-point rating in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge.
Little Bay is complex and bold. You will find citrus, spice flavors with a dark chocolate finish. It is a non-aged scotch which is a blend of whiskies from multiple casks. An affordable wonderful scotch with smooth notes of citrus and spice and a little peat.