Dufftown Double Duel

Taste Review #32 – Mortlach 16 Flora and Fauna vs Pittyvaich 12 Flora and Fauna

Continuing from my tour of Speyside, and once again in the Seven Stills, one of the things I noticed about their whisky is that it had a high proportion of the Flora and Fauna bottlings. As you should now know, I have a soft spot for these bottles. Not all of them are rare, but some are harder than others to get and some are never really seen in a bar.

However, out of the four Flora and Fauna bottles that originated from Dufftown (Glendullan, Dufftown, Mortlach and Pittyvaich), three of them still live on as a distinct distillery range. However, Pittyvaich is a lost distillery, and will eventually become harder to find.

Mortlach distillery was the first legal distillery to open in Dufftown after the 1823 distillery licencing reform, and was the only distillery in Dufftown until Glenfiddich opened. In 1923, the distillery was bought by John Walker and Sons, and from there through various takeovers and mergers came to be owned by Diageo, its current owners. Mortlach has adopted a 2.81 distillation regime, which is similar to that formerly practiced at Benrinnes.

Mortlach Distillery

Pittyvaich, prior to the founding of Kininvie was the youngest distillery in Dufftown, being completed in 1974, alongside Dufftown distillery. It was founded by Arthur Bell to provide spirit for their blends, and in turn and the usual changes of hands, it passed into the ownership of Diageo. Unfortunately, things didn’t end so well for Pittyvaich, and it only produced for 19 years. It later was used to produce Gordons Gin, and as a Diageo training facility until 2003 when the buildings were demolished. Some of the equipment went to Clynelish disiltillery, so a little bit of Pittyvaich survives somewhere.

Pittyvaich Distillery (RCAHMS)

Dufftown is essentially the home of Speyside whisky, with 6 producing distilleries – Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Kininvie, Mortlach, Glendullan and Dufftown. There are two more silent distilleries – Parkmore and Convalmore, both of which have been dismantled and are now used for storage.

There isn’t a lot to do in Dufftown, but there is the Whisky Shop Dufftown in the centre of the village, as well as several bars, restaurants and takeaways. You aren’t far away from the Speyside Cooperage and Macallan Distilleries if you don’t fancy touring Glenfiddich or can’t get a place on the Balvenie tour. There is also the option of nearby GlenAllachie distillery just south of Aberlour.

Onto our business of wetting our thrapple


Region

Speyside

Age

Mortlach 16 years / Pittyvaich 12 years

Strength

Both at 43% a.b.v

Colour

Mortlach – Gold

Pittyvaich– Dark Amber.

Nose

Mortlach – Heavy sherry. Milky caramel, oak, vanilla. Bit of spicy oak.

Pittyvaich – Sherry sweet smoke, sultana, bit of orange peel.

Mortlach. The Beast of Dufftown

Taste

Mortlach – O-M-G. Christmas cake in a bottle. Sherry notes, citrus peel, slight hint of green apple, very rich.

Pittyvaich – wow. Smooth as anything. Nutty vanilla, toffee, raisin, spice

Pittyvaich

Finish

Mortlach Medium sweet, fruit, apples with a short blast of spice.

Pittyvaich – Long and dry, mostly vanilla and creamy caramel. Bit of smoke.

Conclusion

It’s not what you might expect. It certainly wasn’t what I expected. Mortlach has a great reputation, and the Mortlach Flora and Fauna bottling was probably the highest revered out of all of them; certainly the sherried ones. But for me, I’m surprised to tell you that the Pittyvaich for me was much better. It had a good mouth feel, the arrival was so smooth, and wasn’t so spirit led.

Pittyvaich Control (RCAHMS)

Of course, I have no way of knowing how long each bottle has been open, as whisky does degrade very slowly in the bottle due to oxidation. Has this played a part? I can’t tell, as I have no idea what a freshly opened bottle tastes like. What I can tell you is this:-

⁃ both were delicious

⁃ both are chill filtered

⁃ both have E150a colouring

⁃ both bottles are discontinued

⁃ no more Pittyvaich is being made

⁃ There still is a Mortlach 16 made at 43.4%

You might be lucky and find these bottles in your friendly specialist whisky retail shop, but chances are that they have just bought it at auction and are reselling. Prices for Mortlach range from £130 to £160. You might get lucky and get one with a wooden box. Pittyvaich wasn’t such a popular whisky, but pricing is slightly lower, between £100 and £150 on average. Both bottlings initially came with the white cap and will command more money.

There aren’t many independent bottles of Pittyvaich either. A handful from Duncan Taylor, Gordon & Macphail and Douglas Laing, but really the Flora and Fauna release and a couple of special releases are all you will get as official bottles. Grab it while you can to taste it.

1st Edition Mortlach (whiskyhammer.com)

I’d certainly recommend tasting both of these whiskies at some point in your journey. I’m glad I have without having to open my collection.

You can always visit the Seven Stills in Dufftown, as their bottles won’t last forever, and you’ll get a decent feed and service from owners Ros and Patrick.

Slainte Mhath!


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Scotty’s Drams encourages responsible drinking. To find out the facts about drink, and where to find help if you need it visit Drinkaware.co.uk by clicking on the link.


photo credits

– authors own unless otherwise credited

Boogie Woogie (Glen)Ugie!

Taste Review #28 – Glenugie 1980 ‘Deoch an Doras

During my three days of complete whisky geekery, I decided to spend a bit of time trying to drink drams I already had in storage that I didn’t want to open, or rarer drams that I hadn’t bought and wanted to try. I had planned to visit the Tannochbrae guest house in Dufftown, but they weren’t open, so I ended up in the Seven Stills. I hadn’t been there before, and didn’t realise it wasn’t a pub as such, but more a bistro. However, they have a cracking whisky selection, and I had three drams there that I had always wanted to try, and all three were unicorns.

Glenugie Distillery (Stuart Johnson/Flikr)

Glenugie was a distillery that sat just to the south of Peterhead, in the North East of Scotland, and was the most easterly of the distilleries. It was owned by Seager Evans, who used the whisky in their blends. The distillery sat in the shadow of HMP Peterhead, a darkly imposing gaol where some of Scotland’s most violent criminals were sent. Indeed, the prison was the scene of violent rioting, at least one riot saw a prison warded held hostage on the roof, requiring the attendance of the SAS.

Prison Riot, Peterhead 1987 (P&J)

Seager Evans had been sold to Whitbread, and the division renamed Long John International. But disaster for the industry was around the corner. During the 80’s saw the start of the whisky loch due to over production and the industry was haemorrhaging cash. There was a massive cull of distilleries between 1983 to 1985, and sadly Glenugie was the first one to close. Long John International passed over to Allied Distillers, which later became a part of Pernod Ricard.

It is Pernod Ricard that now bottles Glenugie, and given when the distillery closed, bottlings are going to become ever older and expensive. This one is in the Deoch an Dorcas range, which is supposed to mean a drink at the door in Scots Gaelic. The site of the distillery is now demolished and is now used by Score Energy.

Nothing remains of the distillery, apart from the remains of an old windmill, (see photo below) which is listed, and was probably never used in the whisky production. The highlighted warehouses were demolished in 2018 to make room for more specialist storage.

This was the second official bottling of Glenugie, and I gather this was only a run of 500 bottles, so will be quite rare.

Bottle and Dram

Region

Highland

Age

30 years

Strength

52.13% a.b.v

Colour

Honey

Nose

Rich, dried fruits raisins, chocolate,toffee, wood.

Palate

Sweet, sherry notes, plum, prunes, raisins, slightly tannic. Oak notes open up nicely with the addition of two teaspoons of water.

Finish

Long, chocolatey. Metallic taste at the end. Drying

Conclusion

In short, very nice. This is truly whisky whisky history as you know that every drop drunk can never be replaced. Despite being at cask strength, I never added any water to start with, as I wanted to experience the full unadulterated flavour. The sweet and wood was there, and despite me not knowing what cask was used, I’d suggest a sherry cask, possibly of European Oak, but will never know.

Various bottlings of Glenugie are available, but most command big prices at auction. The best bet is to visit a Pernod Ricard distillery and see what is on the shelves. There isn’t any more being distilled, and this is certainly a distillery that I would recommend a dram of being tried, if only at a whisky bar.

Score Energy, Peterhead (Apple Maps)
Warehouses and Windmill, pre 2018

This was affordable for the geeks amongst us at £29 a nip. Bottles can go for over £700 at auction.

Deoch an Doras, as previously mentioned means a drink at the the door, but is more commonly referred to as one for the road. Please, if you experience this dram, don’t rush it, and take your time. It will be worth it.

Slainte Mhath!

Scotty


This blog is written as a hobby. If you liked this article, consider clicking here to visit my Facebook page or liking sharing this article by clicking on icons below.

If you prefer not to use Facebook, follow the WordPress blog by clicking on the link below which will deliver any blog posts to your inbox, including reviews, distillery visits, whisky news and advice.


Scotty’s Drams encourages responsible drinking. To find out the facts about drink, and where to find help if you need it visit Drinkaware.co.uk by clicking on the link.


photo credits

all credited below photos.

Dram, authors own.