It is easy to appreciate why success begets success. Or at least how such unwavering devotion to creating uniquely successful products is decidedly inspiring. This is also especially evident in the success of the world’s finest brands of Scotch whisky. And, unsurprisingly, it is the same winning attitude – one that revels in the entrepreneurial spirit – that has become the hallmark of Whyte & Mackay’s portfolio of prized spirits. This showcase is a poised reflection of the consumer market’s increasingly diverse palate, ranging from more modern adaptations such as its namesake Whyte & Mackay Blended Whisky and those by The Whisky Works (established by whisky maker and blender Gregg Glass in 2017), to some of today’s fastest growing single malt brands – the reborn Speyside classic that is the Tamnavulin and more recently, the Jura, which was relaunched in 2017, included.
Leading this curated line-up are the increasingly coveted expressions of The Dalmore; its long-standing legacy of producing luxury Highland single malt whisky has led to some of the brand’s most notable achievements to date; not least its largest growth in terms of absolute value, making it the fastest growing single malt over the last two years (from 2018 and 2020) according to the 2021 IWSR Global Database. The icing on the cake, though, ensued in October the same year – when its Decades No. 6 Collection (that was launched as part of an ultra-rare selection of six exceptional single malt whiskies spanning six decades) sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong for a record-setting US$1,124,000, making it the most valuable whisky lot ever sold by the auction house in Asia.
As edifying as this growing embrace of The Dalmore is, the true appreciation of the quality it is committed to lies in the unique nature of its cask curation process. It remains the only distillery to use 30 Year Old Matusalem oloroso sherry casks from Gonzalez Byass, a decision that speaks to its foresight and commitment to the long haul. This symbiotic relationship is not a product of happenstance, but the result of a trusted alliance forged and perpetuated over a hundred years. Each cask is handpicked by master distiller Richard Paterson, alongside his protégé and rising star of the whisky world, Gregg Glass, who has spent the better part of the last five decades pushing boundaries in whisky maturation, while ensuring The Dalmore house style continues to flaunt its characteristic showcase of chocolate and orange notes, piqued by rich and nutty flavours – and these casks remain essential to the endowment of this established finesse.
The art of whisky making is after all synonymous with the virtue of patience, Paterson once alluded, noting that it is all about looking after the whisky and giving it time to mature. He emphasises how whisky is ultimately nurtured by Mother Nature and the wood, which, in the case of its King Alexander III expression, comprises whisky finished in six different casks. To be sure, The Dalmore’s exclusive rare cask partners are a celebration of some of the finest in the drinks industry, the likes of Graham’s Port (Duoro Valley, Portugal), Chateau Mont Redon (Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France) and Henri Giraud (Aÿ-Champagne, France).
With such a rich tradition in multi cask maturation dating as far back as 1839, it is no surprise The Dalmore now boast an enviable record of uniquely rare releases. One example is the Paterson Collection, a 12-bottle ensemble of the distillery’s rarest gems, including whisky distilled in 1926, which was sold in 2017 to a young Chinese collector for 1 million pounds (S$1.67 million).
To boot, it is worth highlighting that the aforementioned Decades No. 6 Collection is similarly a one-of-a-kind assemblage of milestone releases, specifically the 1951, 1967, 1979, 1980, 1995, and 2000.
Collections like these are easily the sort of delectable exceptions most whisky lovers could only dream of amassing. Yet even the market for collectables is steadily evolving to embrace alternative means and gains. Inspired by the success of its maiden release of a 33 Year Old Limited Edition Pauillac Premier Grand Cru Classé Cask Finish whisky as an NFT via BlockBar.com that sold out in minutes, The Dalmore witness yet another triumphant offer of the other 223 NFTs of the said whisky in March this year. Not only does this mark the first time The Dalmore has sold an entire cask exclusively on BlockBar.com, but holders of this NFT are also assured an invitation to an event to celebrate the bottling of this precious liquid from the cask when it is disgorged in September this year; physical bottles will only be ready for redemption in late December.
Sign of Times
It’s right to presume that qualities such as complexity and poise are often associated with older whiskies. But age is never the only indictor of a nicely matured expression. Affirming this is perhaps one of the goals of the recently launched The Dalmore 21; it made its debut a year after Paterson was crowned an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, and as his mentee Master Whisky Maker Gregg Glass comes to the fore at the Highlands distillery. It also marks the start of a commitment to releasing a permanent addition of The Dalmore 21 Year Old, one that artfully represents a coming of age for its team.
Aged in the same 30 Year Old Matusalem oloroso sherry casks, this central expression is said to flaunt a symphony of The Dalmore's signature flavours; layering hints of oranges, bitter chocolate and gentle spices with the warm, earthy notes of black forest fruits and sweet liquorice, walnuts and marzipan.
The same could be said about Jura’s distinct yet accessible range of domestic and travel-exclusive whiskies – the former are matured in American white oak ex-bourbon barrels and enhanced by a variety of specially selected casks from around Europe, while the latter is mostly enhanced by sherry casks that once held aged Pedro Ximenez sherry.
Nestled off the West Coast of Scotland, the distillery was established in 1810 and reborn in 1963 to revive a small community, which now numbers just over two hundred working and living on the eponymous island. More impressively, the Jura has been punching above its weight ever since. Its sights remain firmly set on being a top 10 global single malt brand by 2024. And according to the IWSR Global Database 2021, Jura can already boast to have the largest growth between 2019 and 2020.
It shares this honour with its younger Speyside cousin Tamnavulin, located in the foothills of the Cairngorm Mountain range. This distillery began operations in 1966 but shuttered in 1995 and only reopened in 2007 after a major refurbishment. Its whisky range, though, mirrors a similar appreciation for the advantages a varied selection of casks and barrels bring to the table – from whisky matured in ex-bourbon American white oak that was finessed in ex-oloroso sherry casks, to those finished in Tempranillo red wine casks to complement Tamnavulin’s characteristic sweet, mellow flavour.
These achievements no doubt speak volumes about each distillery’s defining strengths. Collectively, they also affirm the exemplary bravado behind Whyte & Mackay’s whisky portfolio, and its holding company Emperador, as a rapidly expanding global conglomerate shaping the alcohol industry in bold new ways. Talk about keeping good company.