Scotland’s Dalmore Distillery

Dalmore Distillery is unusual in many ways. Not many whisky lovers seem to be aware of this distinctive single malt that has been created in the prime barley-growing district of Scotland. The still-men who work in the distillery are basically from a few local families. There are even three generations of a family working together. They believe that their pedigreed whisky is shaped by time, water and weather.

Dalmore Distillery was established by Alexander Matheson in 1839. It lies just 20 miles north of Inverness on the north shore of the Cromarty Firth. It overlooks the fertile land of the Black Isle and its name which means big meadow in Gaelic seems to be inspired by this. The rich peat and pure water sources of the Highlands were perfect for making an excellent Scotch. The distillery was bought by the Mackenzie family in 1886 and the clan crest of the 12-point stag antlers still appears on every bottle.

Though much of the distillery burnt down during the First World War there are ten stone warehouses and some pot-stills which date back to the late 1800s. Dalmore was rebuilt and started production in 1922, making malts of great character and distinction. The stills at Dalmore are unique with cooling jackets around the necks of the spirit stills to help condense the spirit. One of these dates back to 1874 and may be the oldest part of any working still in Scotland. The wash stills come with unusual flat tops, almost as if they were too tall for the still room and had to be chopped off. Even new stills have been made in this shape lest the taste of the whisky changes!

The distillery has a unique wooden wash charger which is twenty feet across. Nothing is as unusual though as the method of moving the draff, the barley residue left after mashing, and cleaning the pipe work. A size-5 football is passed through the pipes! Dalmore has the distinction of having produced the first Scotch whisky in the Third Millennium. They filled their casks at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve 1999.

The Dalmore Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky is an award winning collection of different ages. The 12 Year, the 21 Year, the 28 Year and the Cigar Malt have specific flavors and special nuances as a result of the wooden casks used and Scottish climate in which they mature. The 12 year old is aged in American white oak casks and partly in Oloroso Sherry casks from Gonzalez Byass. It has a rich, deep, golden mahogany color.

The 21 year old matures mostly in American white oak casks, resulting in an intense amber gold with shimmering radiant highlights. It has a bold but well balanced flavor. The 28 year old whisky matures in Oloroso Sherry casks and the resultant rich, deep, honeyed gold spirit has exquisitely smooth nuances. Dalmore Distillery is now owned by Whyte & Mackay.

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