F+R’s George Koutsakis was one of just eight guests invited to visit Dalmore’s refurbished distillery to witness the
launch of a one-of-a-kind 60 Year Old bottling to commemorate the distillery’s
Alongside Macallan, Dalmore is leading the luxury end of
the Scotch whisky revival, with its top designated aged whiskies now reaching
astronomical prices. We explore this historic distillery following its
refurbishment and highlight F+R’s top picks from the range.
The refurbishments were born from a simple problem- the
whisky distilleries back home in Scotland can’t keep up with guests’ expectations.
Those who have visited some of the many whisky distilleries in Scotland know
that the setup is usually very basic, and simple. Men and women from the area
work in old sites, mossy warehouses, tight fermentation rooms, and sterile still
rooms. Few sites have visitor centres and those that do keep the experience
simple. A Scotch distillery is a piece of Scottish history and the luxurious
and high-end image many brands now enjoy in markets across the globe doesn’t
match the old, cosy distilleries back in Scotland. However, this is changing.
As the value of certain releases skyrocket on the secondary
market and huge investors and collectors emerge in Asia and the U.S., these
distilleries need to fit the role of a huge, luxury brand. Visitors to Scotland
for whisky tours fluctuate each year and, put simply, if a Chinese buyer pays one
million GBP for a single bottle of Macallan, the distillery needs to be up to par
when said buyer decides to visit. The
new, state-of-the-art Macallan distillery came to be for a reason.
Now, the Dalmore has followed suit and upgraded their
facilities. Unlike the Macallan, they have held on to some of the old
structures and areas that make the Dalmore what it is; the character must
remain. But, the team have renovated the visitors centre, added a kitchen and
chef team, a private dining room and bar, all the areas to make guests feel
truly welcome. The still room has been opened up for a more ‘majestic’ view of
the massive stills and the maturation warehouses have been organized for guests
to see some of the rarest Dalmore casks in existence upon entering.
Over a night at the distillery with Richard Patterson, we
were taken through the distillery and the renovated areas. The tasting room
features bottlings of the famed Dalmore 64 and 62. These were, most likely,
replicas but the Dalmore team (with a smile) nor confirmed nor denied this.
Bottles of sherry, port, and bourbon from the producers the brand receives
their casks from, were present as were educational materials to study up on the
distillery and whisky in general. The secret dining room is perfect for small
and mid-sized groups, and the chef does an amazing job of using Scotland’s
finest ingredients for a fun and colourful menu.
Dalmore bottlings and casks have been rising steadily,
especially in China, Taiwan, and the rest of Asia. Just recently, the brand
launched the new Dalmore
51-Year-Old. And with Richard Paterson set to retire this year, many other
commemorative bottlings are expected to follow. Let’s look at the one-of-a-kind
Dalmore 60-Year-Old. According to Patterson, ‘the spirit was distilled on June
7th, 1951, and the two ex-sherry casks used to create this expression are the
last of the Mackenzie era, the family that ran the distillery for over three
generations.’ The project was led by Patterson, who carefully married the two
casks to create the new 60 year-old. The new release is close in age to the
series of Dalmore 62 Year-Old bottles, each one commemorating a milestone in
the Dalmore's history, from the start of the distillery in 1839. Most recently,
the brand collaborated with famed Italian chef, Massimo Botura, to create the
one-of-a-kind 49 Year-Old Dalmore L'Anima, which sold at auction for £108,900.
Since the launch, the new Dalmore 60-Year-Old has been sent on a journey around
the world, to launch in China, the US, Taiwan, and other markets. Once it returns
to the UK it will be sold to the highest bidder, but we do not yet know which
auction or retailer will be used.
As whisky becomes more of a luxury product many distilleries
have begun to upgrade their facilities. However, we’re hoping that the
traditions, timeless structures, and old practices remain as those are what
make Scotch whisky such a loved spirits category steeped in rich history. The
Dalmore has managed to maintain both, so if you haven’t yet, now’s a great time
Dalmore 35 Year-Old
Released in 2016, the Dalmore 35 Year-Old will see 1,000
bottles released a year until 2021. With this in mind, it’s a great time to
stock up as a possible discontinuation may be on the horizon. The whisky within
has been aged in a combination of casks- a Matusalem sherry, a bourbon barrel
and a colheita-port pipe. This brings forth an amazing balance in the whisky,
with depth that only over three decades spent in oak could bring. To remain on
par with the liquid, a hand-blown crystal decanter crafted by French crystal
house Baccarat was produced for the release.
Notes: The nose is delightfully bursting with juicy
fruit, mangoes, banana, pineapple, some passionfruit. Vibrant for a whisky of
this age. The tropical fruit continue on to the palate now joined by some
spice, gingerbread and some roasted coffee with honey. The finish is long and
Dalmore 45 Year-Old
As if the 35-year-old wasn’t old and rare enough, the
Dalmore brought us a 45-year-old expression in 2018. Unlike the 35, only 500
bottles of the Dalmore 45 Year-Old were released worldwide. The liquid matured
in ex-Bourbon casks and was then moved into two different Graham’s Port
Colheita pipes from the 1961 and 1963. The liquid was finally married together
in first-fill ex-Bourbon casks. Again encased in Barracat crystal decanters,
this is one of the most sought-after Dalmores in the world.
Notes: Incredible complexity here, with soft berries
leading to rich honey on the nose. The palate delivers dark chocolate and
Manuka honey, followed by toffee-covered apples and roasted chestnuts. A
complex yet balanced expression, with a liveliness one wouldn’t expect from a
whisky aged for almost half a century.