All about making whisky
Ask whisky enthusiasts where the Dalmore distillery is located and very few will be able to point to the Black Isle in the Highlands, a couple of hours north of Inverness. The distillery is in Alness just across the water. Hergé only borrowed the name from this “isle”, which is in reality a peninsula. In fact the isle depicted in one of the most famous Tintin adventures is none other than the Isle of Arran. As for the famous Captain Haddock, he was more partial to blends than single malts and Dalmore would not have been his favourite dram.
The new visitor reception centre, which opened in 2004, will perhaps bring this distillery and its nectar the renown they both deserve. Its meticulously-kept Victorian architecture gives it a delightfully old-fashioned appearance, with the pink granite walls softening the austerity of the slate roofs.
For almost a century, Dalmore belonged to the Mackenzie family who sold it in 1960 to some friends who owned the Whyte & Mackay blend.
The stag head that adorns each bottle of Dalmore is borrowed from the Mackenzie clan coat of arms. Whisky enthusiasts who regularly attend whisky events will not be able to disassociate Dalmore from the flamboyant talks given by its charismatic ambassador Richard Paterson, who likes to pair old Dalmore whiskies with grand cru coffee and chocolate.
They represent the perfect match for a single malt whose maturity has been influenced by carefully selected sherry casks, such as in the Dalmore 30 Year-Old, 1973 Gonzalez Byass Finish. In 2005, a 62 year-old bottle of Dalmore was sold at auction for the tidy sum of £32,000, making it at the time the most expensive bottle of whisky in the world. Its buyer, the owner of Pennyhill Park Hotel in the south of England, decided to open the bottle and share it with his best customers. Now that’s what you call hospitality!