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The Dalmore: The Art of Distillation

Why The Dalmore's Single Malt Scotch is among the most sought after spirits on the planet. 

Richard Paterson OBE sampling a barrel of The Dalmore Scotch Whisky

In its most esteemed iterations Single Malt Scotch is much more than mere liquid, it is the very embodiment of luxury. And the prized category offers no treasure quite like the one which wields a 12-point Royal Stag across its crest. 

This is the iconic mark of The Dalmore: instantly recognised along the top shelf and adored by connoisseurs across every corner of the globe.

The legendary Highland producer didn’t forge such status overnight, of course. It has been hard-earned by the craftsmen and women who have sculpted the Scotch for centuries, beginning with Alexander Matheson all the way back in 1839. Unwavering in his mission to build exceptional single malt, the merchant laid the groundwork for the Dalmore distillery along the mighty banks of the Cromarty Firth.

The Dalmore stock in oak barrels

From this pastoral landscape, he could assemble the highest quality malt, draw the purest Scottish water and enjoy the ideal climate for the lengthy aging that’s come to define The Dalmore. 

Indeed, the blueprint remains unchanged to this day. All because those who followed in Matheson’s footsteps understood the genius of his design. “We were exploring long maturation very early on, recognizing that the robust character of the spirit running off the stills needed time in cask,” explains Gerry Tosh, Rare Whisky Director for The Dalmore.

“As a result, laying down stocks for long periods of time has been a fundamental part of our whisky making philosophy and has gained our distillery a reputation for making some of the finest, and rarest single malt whiskies in the world.”

For that they also needed the proper wood. Fortunately the distillery enjoys prime positioning along the headlands’ edge. It allows more than just an enviable view of the North Sea. It has enabled the whisky makers to amass the finest oak barrels since the start: casks shipped freshly from the Sherry-producing regions of Spain; oak staves from American Bourbon country, drenched in vanilla and caramel spices; the rich and fruity pipes of Portugal. But even the best of cooperage is worthless in the hands of the uninitiated.

The Dalmore 43 year old The Sherry Edition

The Dalmore’s most remarkable stock, then, is that which it places in its makers. Those crafting the “juice” here have remained on duty for decades. “I just celebrated 45 years with The Dalmore,” says whisky maker Margaret “Mags” Nicol. “Our team is small and we all work hand-in-hand to ensure impeccable standards. Fundamentally, what needs done day to day has never changed, and if you want to know where a specific cask is, you ask me.”

Nevertheless, Nicol is a relative newcomer compared to The Dalmore’s iconic Master Blender: Richard Paterson OBE will soon celebrate 60 years with the brand. 

Today he shares his responsibilities with Gregg Glass, a long-tenured artisan who represents the next generation of stewardship. Together, the tight-knit family embodies the intimate and inspired heritage of the brand. They are writing the next chapter in that epic saga first penned by Alexander Matheson all those years ago.

It is that rarest of tales, one which can actually be tasted. The most discerning palates on the planet savor it in every bottle of The Dalmore. But as with any true luxury in life, the experience exists in short supply.

Thankfully, The Dalmore’s dedicated Private Client team offer access to this liquid legacy—unobtainable as it may seem. “Our purpose is to offer clients access to some of the finest single malts in the world, explains Tosh. “Whether that be a never-before-seen bottle, a hard-to-find collection or even a mature cask. This is the scotch that defines rarity.”