Inspired by the life and times of visionary distiller,
Dr. Alexander Cowie.

Mortlach, or The Beast of Dufftown as it’s known amongst enthusiasts, is Diageo’s revered and robust Highland Scotch whisky. Established on the site of an illicit distillery, in 1823 it became Dufftown’s first legal distillery. 

A previous rebrand of Mortlach focused on the broader engineering background of the Cowie family. For a brand born in brazen spirit, this didn’t do justice to the product or its heritage and it failed to capture the hearts and minds of whisky-lovers too. 

We partnered with Mortlach on positioning, branding and packaging to reveal the scientific daring and intricate ambition of the man behind this drop. 

In 1897, Dr. Alexander Cowie reinvented the spirit of whisky-making. His intricate 2.81 distillation method comprised six stills of varying shapes and sizes. As is so often the way with avant-garde distillers, only he knew the logic behind the layered process. We can, however, reveal the smallest, most essential still, named the ‘Wee Witchie,’ was where the spirit transformed into the legendary sip we know today.

Previously, the branding had relied on premium finishes reminiscent of cognac. While it presented as a luxurious package, it became lost on dark back bars and didn’t convey the warmth and craft of the whisky. Our refresh captures the multiple facets of Mortlach’s impressive history and process, with a contemporary take on the life and vision of Dr. Alexander Cowie. 

Cowie’s unwavering pursuit of excellence is expressed through the attention to distillation detail. Ultimately, his scientific mind, engineering expertise, and intense creativity is the innovation behind this whisky. So we wanted the process to shine and feel rich and exciting for whisky drinkers.

The ‘M’ identity tells the story of the six still-distillation process in a bold and memorable mark. The wordmark retains its earlier form but with an updated custom typeface that’s distinctive and is a modern take on trusted heritage. 

The premium range of whiskies was initially aimed at the Taiwanese luxury whisky market but the rebrand quickly gained traction globally and further cemented the spirit’s cult-favourite status.

A distilling process so complex,
it’s simply referred to as ‘The way’.

Awarded gold at the FAB design awards in London 2019