The Dalmore is a collection of Single Malt Scotch whiskies with Dalmore’s heritage going back centuries. The distillery prides itself on the history and heritage of craftsmanship and the standards it has set for the entire industry. We caught up with Master Distiller Gregg Glass to find out all about The Dalmore.
How did it all start?
Gregg Glass: Located in the Highlands of Scotland, The Dalmore has a Royal Heritage dating all the way back to 1263. But it wasn’t until 1839 that the distillery was officially founded by Alexander Matheson, who had made his fortune as a partner in Jardine Matheson, the trading firm that took over from the East India Company. The Mackenzie’s then took control in 1867 and it remained family-owned until 1960, when Whyte & Mackay purchased the distillery.
For nearly five decades since then, Master Distiller Richard Paterson was the creative force behind The Dalmore. His pioneering spirit was inspired by the vision of Sir Alexander Matheson and the achievements of the Mackenzie family who came before him. Richard’s mission was to push the boundaries of possibility in whisky production and the art of cask curation. His unparalleled expertise and intimate knowledge of rare and precious casks have produced truly iconic, ground-breaking expressions from The Dalmore that have set the standard in Single Malt Whisky. I’m honoured to have had the opportunity to refine my craft with such an icon.
Tell us about the royal heritage of Dalmore and what sets you apart from other single malts?
Gregg Glass: The Dalmore’s Royal Heritage is something we’re extremely proud of and it still plays an important part in the way we approach our whiskies. In 1263 Colin of Kintail, Chief of the Clan Mackenzie, saved King Alexander III from the fury of a charging stag. In recognition of this noble act the King granted the Mackenzie Clan the right to use the 12-pointed Royal stag emblem on their coat of arms. When descendants of the Clan became owners of The Dalmore distillery in 1867, the Royal Stag became the recognisable icon that proudly adorns each bottle of The Dalmore today. It’s an emblem which encapsulates a rich past whilst also embodying a promise that The Dalmore will remain at the pinnacle of single malt.
The Dalmore’s approach, which combines robust liquids that are built to age with expert cask maturation, is what sets us apart. Our house style derives from a close and trusted relationship that was forged with sherry house González Byass over 100 years ago. The rare casks, which have previously held 30 year old Matusalem Oloroso sherry, are exclusive to The Dalmore and ensure we produce whiskies unlike any other. These casks enrich the signature chocolate and orange character of our whisky with rich and nutty flavours. As a result, we are able to produce some of the world’s oldest and finest whiskies – something we are incredibly proud of.
Why are single malts better than blended whiskies?
Gregg Glass: A single malt is made with malted barley distilled in pot stills at a single distillery, giving those whiskies highly distinctive flavour and nuance that exemplifies the distillery’s own style. In the case of The Dalmore, this is the rich, deep chocolate character embodied by all of our whiskies.
Both blended and single malts have their place in the market, delivering different flavour experiences at different price points that are suited to different drinkers and occasions. However, when it comes to older, age worthy liquids, single malt expressions have the advantage. These rare experiences are what attract whisky lovers from around the world.
Tell us about the portfolio of your whiskies.
Gregg Glass: Broadly speaking, our portfolio is split into two halves. The cornerstone is our award-winning Principal Collection, which perfectly reflects how the distillery is able to realise the incredible potential and legendary depth of whisky through maturation in exquisite casks, carefully selected from around the world. Within the collection we have whiskies of varying age statements, alongside no-age-statement specialities like the Cigar Malt and King Alexander III. Named for the momentous events that culminated in the use of the 12-pointed royal stag emblem, The Dalmore King Alexander III is the epitome of handcrafted excellence and the result of a remarkable six-cask marriage of specialist selected aged stocks.
We then have our range of rare and exclusive expressions, such as The Decades No.6 Collection, which sold for over US$1.1m last year. This milestone collection included releases from 1951, 1967, 1979, 1980, 1995, and 2000. From the first whisky distilled in the new millennium to the reunion of two incredibly rare Mackenzie-era sherry casks for The Dalmore 60YO, the Collection represented over six decades of creativity and innovation at the distillery.
The Dalmore 21 perfectly sits as the apex between these two halves of our portfolio.
What makes The Dalmore 21 special?
Gregg Glass: The pinnacle of The Dalmore’s Principal Collection, this release marks the channelling of potential over centuries. It’s a toast to the distillery’s origins and to all those who have shaped the unique distillery over 180 years of pioneering craftsmanship and is a highly limited edition Highland single malt whisky – just 1,200 bottles have been supplied to the UK from a small 8,000 bottle release. The 21 Year Old is a true feast for the senses. It’s a symphony of the signature Dalmore DNA of oranges, bitter chocolate and gentle spices, masterfully layered with Black Forest Fruits and sweet liquorice, walnuts and marzipan on the palate. It then glides to a long and lingering finish of peaches, ginseng, pear Tarte Tatin, and Sanguillo blood oranges.
The Dalmore 21 is a true drinking whisky. What is the ideal way to drink it?
Gregg Glass: This is a whisky that has spent 21 long years resting in the warehouses of The Dalmore distillery. It’s complex and refined and represents a real coming of age for The Dalmore. The best way to enjoy The Dalmore 21 Year Old is at a special time, in good company. This single malt is a true masterpiece and needs time to be enjoyed to the fullest.
What sustainability practices are you undertaking to protect the future of whisky making and the environment?
Gregg Glass: We are committed to a sustainable future for whisky-making at The Dalmore. To support this, we have committed to transitioning to a green energy solution at the site as part of the upcoming site development.
In a broader sense Whyte and Mackay – producers of the Dalmore – approach sustainability at a corporate level as a combined effort across all our operations and brands. We have committed to being carbon neutral by 2030 and Net Zero by 2040, and have a defined sustainability strategy in place to achieve this. The strategy focuses on 4 key areas: Energy, Water, Agriculture and Biodiversity, and Packaging and Waste, and is carefully designed to protect both the future of whisky making and the environment.
Scotch whisky is a product of our natural environment, so protecting the future of that environment is an important part of my role as a whisky-maker and is integral to the future of The Dalmore.
What food is best paired with The Dalmore 21?
Gregg Glass: With such pronounced influence from rare Matusalem sherry casks, The Dalmore 21 Year Old would be delicious alongside cuisine with a Mediterranean feel. Salty Iberico ham and full flavoured Manchego cheeses work well and if you are so inclined, a fine cigar beautifully brings out the antique qualities that come with age.
How important is cask management when it comes to whisky?
Gregg Glass: It is widely considered that the majority of the flavour comes from the cask so it’s crucial to source quality wood. We use bourbon barrels and the particularly rare Matusalem Oloroso sherry casks, exclusive to the Dalmore. A 21 year long maturation brings a refinement to The Dalmore house style, allowing the antique qualities to shine.
What is next for Dalmore?
Gregg Glass: The future of The Dalmore is incredibly strong. We have a number of exciting releases on the way that showcase The Dalmore’s potential over long periods of time, in a variety of different casks. We have also announced plans to develop our distillery, which will involve not only increasing capacity but an enhanced visitor experience too.
To discover more, visit: thedalmore.com
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All imagery courtesy of Whyte & Mackay.