Diageo will release four new expressions of Scotch brand Mortlach over the next year in a bid to make it a major player in the single malt category.

The Mortlach distillery was built in 1823 as the first in Dufftown, Speyside, which now houses the likes of Glenfiddich and Balvenie.

Diageo has historically released just a small amount of cases of Mortlach 16 Year Old, a full-bodied, sherried single malt that retails at around £14, each year, while much of what the distillery produces goes into its other blended brands.

But Diageo is investing £18 million in doubling the distillery’s capacity and is launching a new range.

The 16 Year Old will be withdrawn, and the four new expressions will be: Rare Old, an entry level 43.3% abv whisky with no age statement; an 18 Year Old; a 25 Year Old; and a 49% Rare Old exclusive to travel retail.

The expressions will be released mid-2014 and rrp details will be revealed closer to the release date.

Diageo’s Dr. Nicholas Morgan, head of whisky outreach, told Whisky Advocate the new releases will be the supplier’s most significant move in the single malt category in the past decade and that Mortlach will soon become the next great luxury brand. 

Ben Ellefsen, sales director at Master of Malt, said: “It’s likely in my opinion that the Rare Old expression will sit at the same sort of £40-50 price level as other recent premium no-age-expression releases from Diageo such as Talisker Storm and Caol Ila Moch. Lordy knows where they’ll go price-wise with the 18 and 25, but I’m assured that they’re definitely going to be ongoing expressions, and are not part of the annual special releases.”

He added that the attention to detail Diageo is giving to the project to double the distillery’s size, replicating the existing processes as minutely as possible, was “very pleasing” for fans of Mortlach.