The Dalmore: A Quintessential Highland Blend

The Dalmore is essentially of highland origin, with a legacy that makes it Scotland’s most renowned single malts. Located at Alness, the distillery sits 20 miles north of Inverness, on the Cromarty Firth. Overlooking the black isle, this peninsula is actually a flat, rich meadowland. The name Dalmore is actually a combination of Norse and Gaelic meaning “big meadowland.”

The history

Way back in 1839, this distillery was founded by Alexander Matheson, the nephew of Sir James Matheson, one of the co-founders of the famous Hong Kong trading house Jardine Matheson. Matheson never actually operated the distillery and leased it to the Sunderland family. They operated the distillery till 1867 and leased it to the Mackenzie family. The family operated the distillery until 1960 and then it was merged with White and Mackay.

The Dalmore’s iconic crest owes its origin to the Makenzie family lore. In 1263 Colin of Kintail, the hereditary chief of the Mackenzie clan, saved the Scottish King, Alexander III, from a charging Red Stag. It had 12 points on its antlers and was termed a “royal stag,” as animals of that size were only reserved for the king’s hunting pleasure. The grateful king bestowed the clan the right to use the 12-point “royal stag” as the clan crest. This emblem is there on every bottle of The Dalmore since 1867.

The brand has a number of notable firsts:

First single malt exported from Scotland (to Australia) in 1870.

The current production capacity of 4.2 million liters of pure alcohol stands on the top quartile of Scotch whisky distilleries.

It has bottled some of the most expensive Scotch whiskies ever sold.


The process

The Dalmore distillery uses Loch Lomond stills. These stills contain three water cooled plates in the neck of the still that allows the distiller to r control the level of reflux during the distillation in a better way. So they allow the distiller the ability to mimic the effect of shorter or longer necks on the resulting distillate. Increased copper contact from multiple distillations, as well as the effect of taller necks to select lighter aromatic compounds, are responsible for the floral and fruitier aromas typical of lighter whiskies. In fact this kind of aroma profile is unusual among The Dalmore’s more robust Highland brethren. The Dalmore 12 year old is aged in bourbon barrels for the first nine years.

The palate

The blend is a rich mahogany color with the characteristic reddish orange hue of fine antique wood. The nose has the aroma of cooked fruit, mincemeat tarts and Christmas fruitcake. Honey baked rum-infused raisins and tropical spice aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, allspice and a hint of cloves as well as lighter floral aromas follow this. A rich note of new saddle leather and wood wax in the background imparts a sense of oiliness and weight to the whisky. A hint of residual sugar adds some texture and weight in the mouth, and is integrated well. A creamy, cereal note reminiscent of fresh baked croissants is also present. The finish is moderate with notes of almonds, sweet marzipan, candied orange and hints of vanilla and tropical spices in the background before ending on a slight bitter coffee note.