The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2010

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Page 37 of 116

The Dalmore hasn’t always been highly regarded and, for much of its history, most of its output has been swallowed up blended whiskies at Whyte & Mackay, where, all too often, the demand for what I’ll politely call “value” blends dominated nobler considerations. But that’s changing. Now under new ownership, Whyte & Mackay are moving their portfolio upmarket and, in the process, really giving Paterson the chance he’s been waiting for to show what he can do with wood and age. The result has been some spectacular, one-of-a-kind whiskies in a big, beefy style that owes a lot to great wood selection and meticulous fi nishing, usually in exceptionally high-quality sherry casks. The older expressions in the Rare and Prestige Range are sensational. But then they need to be to live up to the ritzy packaging and pricing that reaches stratospheric levels. These whiskies were reserved starting in the mid-1960s, when Paterson began to lay down a small selection of the most exceptional Dalmore casks for extra- long maturation. Protecting these stocks for the passing decades, it’s been determined that the time is now right to release these extra special whiskies. Not only are they as ready as they ever will be, but a new market of connois- seurs has emerged with a willingness to pay for what are, after all, some of Scotland’s rarest drams—a liquid gold treasure trove. The ebullient Dalmore website uses language such as “alchemistic artistry” and “dynamic distillation” to describe these whiskies, and one’s scepticism may grow at such hyperbole. But, confronted with Paterson’s enthusiasm and the chance to sample rarities such as The Dalmore Candela (a 50 year old whisky, named for the measurement of light), Selene (a Moon goddess, 58 years of age, though it seems ungracious to mention this) and the 1951 Dalmore Sirius (brightest of the stars), I’m forced to accept that conventional tasting vocabulary is inadequate. These are stellar whiskies, truly the product of a life’s work that is only now reaching fruition. Lesser mortals will have to be content with the 12 and 15 Year Old Dalmore expressions on show at San Francisco alongside the Gran Reserva and, for VIP ticket holders only, the King Alexander III bottle (named for an ancient Scottish monarch and truly a regal whisky). But, if you were building the ultimate Scotch bar, some older Dalmore would deserve a place of honor. Partly to salute some exceptionally fi ne whisky, but mainly in tribute to the man behind it, the irrepressible Richard Paterson, Master Blender extraordinary. Whyte & Mackay through Shaw-Ross Importers Tasting Notes on Selected Expressions of The Dalmore 12 Year Old ($50) The entry-level, but no lightweight. Subtle cask management delivers marmalade, citrus and smoke. Gran Reserva ($50) Break out the Cohibas! Rich, full-bodied and aromatic with a robust body and lingering fi nish. Sirius ($16,000) 12 decanters only—all gone! Simply to nose it is to enter uncharted territory. Awesome, multi-layered and obscenely good. april 2010 / the tasting panel / 37

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