Dalmore distillery

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Dalmore Distillery
Dalmore Distillery reception house in Alness
Dalmore Distillery reception house in Alness
Region: Highland
LocationAlness, Scotland
OwnerWhyte & Mackay
Water sourceAlness river
No. of stills4 wash 16,500 + 8,250 litres (3,630 + 1,810 imperial gallons; 4,360 + 2,180 US gallons)
4 spirit 11,000 + 7,300 litres (2,400 + 1,600 imperial gallons; 2,900 + 1,900 US gallons)[1]
Capacity4,200,000 litres (920,000 imperial gallons; 1,100,000 US gallons)
The 12, The 15, The 18, 25
TypeSingle Malt
Age(s)12,[2] 15,[3] 18,[4] 25
Dalmore King Alexander III[5]
TypeSingle Malt

The Dalmore distillery is located in Alness, Scotland, which is 20 miles (32 km) north of Inverness. It sits on the banks of the Cromarty Firth overlooking the Black Isle, the "big meadowland", from which it takes its name.

The Dalmore distillery is owned and operated by Whyte & Mackay, which is owned by Philippines based Emperador Inc.[6]


The legend of The Dalmore dates back to 1263, when Colin of Kintail, Chief of the clan Mackenzie, saved King Alexander III of Scotland from a charging stag. As a reward the grateful King, granted Colin of Kintail the lands of Eilean Donan, the motto ‘Luceo Non Uro’, which translates to ‘I Shine, Not Burn’ and the right to use the 12-pointed Royal Stag as the Mackenzie clan crest.[7]

The distillery was established in 1839 by entrepreneur Alexander Matheson, who after 28 years decided it was time to pass the distillery onto new owners. Andrew and Charles Mackenzie came forward, and as members of the clan Mackenzie they brought with them the iconic 12-pointed Royal Stag emblem, the caberfeidh which has adorned every bottle of The Dalmore. Operations ran fairly smoothly at the distillery until 1917, when the British Royal Navy began to use the firth next to the distillery as a site for the production of deep-sea mines. In 1920 much of the distillery was destroyed by an explosion and the fire that came as a result of a mine detonation incident. The subsequent legal battle between Andrew Mackenzie and the Royal Navy lasted over half a decade, even reaching the House of Lords.[8] The distillery remained family-owned until 1960 when one of Dalmore's main customers, Whyte & Mackay, took control. A significant contributor to W&M's blends, for many years Dalmore's presence in the world of single malt was restricted to a 12-year-old expression.[9] In recent times, however, the range has expanded dramatically, with a core range of 12, 15, 18 and 25-years-old, plus no-age-statement specialties like King Alexander III, Cigar Malt, and an ever-growing selection of luxury expressions such as the 21-strong Constellation range, and 1951 "Sirius". Prices at the top end regularly top five figures.[9]


The water used in the Dalmore is taken from the river Alness, which runs through the small town of Alness, where the distillery is located. The waters of the river flow from the nearby Loch Morie, located deep in the heart of the Northern Highlands. The location of the Dalmore's distillery and its smooth, floral flavor qualify it as a Highland malt.[8]

The wash stills at Dalmore have flat tops, and are also in two sizes. Three are 13,000 litres (2,900 imp gal; 3,400 US gal) in capacity, the fourth is double that. The spirit stills all sport water coolers around their necks to assist in reflux. Again, one of the quartet is double the size. Because of this discrepancy in size and the fact that the spirit stills are charged when the low wines and feints receiver is full, the strength of the charge to those stills varies, creating different end flavors. Though it seems random to an outsider, thankfully it is controlled by high experienced stillmen. All these distillates are vatted before being casked.[9]

Condensing is also unusual. The spirit stills have external shell and tube condensers which lie horizontally. This mirrors the old worm pipe which lay in the burn which runs outside the stillhouse.[9]

Each expression of The Dalmore is matured in two different types of wooden casks: American white oak bourbon casks and exclusive aged sherry casks from Gonzalez Byass. Each sherry cask – which is hand selected by master distiller Richard Paterson – gives the whisky a deep copper colour and flavours of crushed almonds, cinnamon, ginger and citrus. The bourbon casks give the whisky notes of vanilla, spice, honey and tropical fruits.[citation needed]

To create a more complex character, selected expressions are finished in exceptional casks, showcasing woods from world-renowned bodegas and exclusive wineries.[citation needed]


Products currently produced[edit]

  • The Dalmore 12-year-old

Matured for an initial nine years in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, the spirit is then divided. One half remains in the bourbon barrels, while the other is transferred to exclusive 30 year old Gonzalez Byass Matusalem oloroso sherry butts before they are reunited to create this whisky.[10]

  • The Dalmore 15-year-old

This vintage is initially matured for 12 years in American white oak ex-bourbon casks. The Dalmore 15 is then split equally between three different sherry woods; Amoroso, Apostoles and Matusalem oloroso for a further three years. The spirit is finally married together in an upstanding sherry butt, allowing the flavors to infuse.[10]

  • The Dalmore Cigar Malt

Matured initially in American white oak ex-bourbon casks and 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry butts, it is then transferred into Cru Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques.[10]

  • The Dalmore 18-year-old

Matured initially for 14 years in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, the spirit is then transferred to 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry butts for a further four years. These sherry butts from the house Gonzalez Byass are selected exclusively for The Dalmore.[10]

  • The Dalmore King Alexander III

Spirits matured in ex-bourbon casks, Matusalem oloroso sherry butts, Madeira barrels, Marsala casks, Port pipes and Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques are combined in perfect harmony to create a complex, yet smooth single malt.[10]

  • The Dalmore 25-year-old

Matured initially in American white oak, the whisky is divided into rare hand-sourced 25 year old sweet Palomino Fino sherry butts and 1980 first fill bourbon casks. These whiskies are then married together in bourbon barrels before being transferred, for the final time into Tawny Port pipes from Portugal.[10]

  • The Dalmore Valour – Travel Retail Exclusive

Valour marries together the distinct characteristics of three exceptional casks. Matured initially in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, the spirit is then transferred to 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry wood casks from Gonzalez Byass, before being finessed in Port pipes from the Douro region in Portugal for a unique finish.[10]

  • The Dalmore Constellation Collection

The Dalmore Constellation Collection unites a spectrum single malt scotch whisky vintages distilled between 1964 and 1992.[10]

Limited edition products[edit]

  • The Paterson Collection

This collection has been created to honor the people who have shaped, influenced and inspired the 50-year career of the Dalmore's master distiller, Richard Paterson. The twelve individual expressions encompass some of the distillery's oldest and rarest whiskies, Richard creates a tribute to William Taylor, Charles Chree Doig, Alexander Matheson, Andrew MacKenzie, Douglas Cooper, John MacDonald, Donald MacKinlay, Andrew Usher, his Grandfather and Father, Drew Sinclair, Aeneas Coffey and J Whyte & C MacKay.[10]

  • Trinitas

The Dalmore Trinitas is a 64 year old single malt. Named Trinitas as only three bottles were produced, it contains some of the oldest and rarest whiskies in the world, dating from 1868, 1878, 1926 and 1939.[10]

  • The Drew Sinclair

An expression created by Master Distiller Richard Paterson as a tribute to Andrew ‘Drew’ Sinclair, who was Distillery Manager for many of his 40 years at The Dalmore.[10]

  • Eos

Named after the Titan goddess of the dawn, Eos is a 59 year old expression crafted from two outstanding sherry casks. The casks were left to mature from 1951 before both were combined to create this truly brilliant whisky.[10]

  • Selene

The Dalmore Selene brings together two exceptional sherry casks, number 1781 and 1782, both had been left to mature since 1951. Over half a century passed before the Dalmore Master Distiller deemed it the time right to combine them and create this 58 year old whisky.[10]

  • Oculus

The Dalmore Oculus was a unique release. Only one bottle was created using a combination of rare malts from 1868, 1878, 1922, 1926, 1939 and 1951. The Oculus was encased in an engraved Baccarat crystal decanter, within a wooden display case.[10]

  • Sirius

Only 12 decanters of the Dalmore Sirius existed in the whole world of this 1951 vintage.

Named Sirius after the brightest star in the sky, the whisky is presented in a decanter with starburst engraving and iconic solid silver stag.[10]

  • Candela

The Dalmore Candela is a 50 year old expression that has been selected from the oldest maturing stocks of any single Highland malt whisky, it contains spirits dating from 1868, 1878, 1909, 1922, 1939 and 1951.[10]

  • Aurora

The Dalmore Aurora is a 45 year old single malt. The flavors and aromas of Aurora are created during a 45-year maturation in hand selected oak casks from the house of Gonzalez Byass.[10]

  • Astrum

Named after the Latin word for constellation, this 40 year old expression emerged from the darkness of a lengthy maturation. The Astrum was sealed into American white oak casks in 1966. Four decades later it was given a final flourish of 18 months in 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry butts from Gonzalez Byass.[10]

  • Ceti

This 30 year old expression of The Dalmore is named after the Ceti star which is 30 light years away from earth. As the brightest star in its constellation, the Ceti also reflects the Mackenzie Clan motto ‘Luceo Non Uro’, translated as ‘I shine, not burn’.

Ceti began with a 23 year long maturation in hand selected American white oak ex-bourbon barrels, before spending a further seven years in 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry butts sourced from bodega Gonzalez Byass.[10]

  • Vintage 1979

The journey of this vintage began on 29 October 1979, when the spirit was put into bespoke bourbon barrels. After a 29-year maturation, it was transferred to Matusalem oloroso sherry butts from Jerez de la Frontera for the final two years.[10]

  • 1981 Matusalem

After an initial period of 22 years in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, the 1981 Matusalem is aged for six years in Matusalem oloroso sherry butts from Gonzalez Byass.[10]

  • 1981 Amoroso

The 1981 Amoroso spent the first 26 years in American white oak bourbon barrels before a short, intense period in Amoroso sherry casks from bodega Gonzalez Byass.[10]

  • Mackenzie

In 1263, the Chief of the Clan MacKenzie saved King Alexander III from being gored by a stag whilst out hunting. The grateful King granted him the right to bear a 12-pointed Royal Stag in his coat of arms. Descendants of the Clan took over The Dalmore distillery in 1867 and from then on, every bottle of The Dalmore single malt whisky has been adorned with the emblem.

Master Distiller, Richard Paterson, created The Mackenzie expression as a tribute to this act of bravery. The vintage was initially matured in American white oak for 11 years, then transferred to Port pipes from Oporto for a further six years.[10]

  • Castle Leod

A homage to the Clan Mackenzie whose history is entwined with The Dalmore distillery, this 1995 vintage was the second in a series crafted by Master Distiller, Richard Paterson. It honors the Clan, whose seat is still to this day at Castle Leod, and is found only 25 miles from The Dalmore Distillery.

Initially matured in American white oak and Spanish sherry wood, it then spends a final 18 months in barriques from a first cru classe Bordeaux Chateau.[10]

  • Cromartie

This expression was crafted as a tribute to the lands of Cromarty: the seat of the Clan Mackenzie and their home Castle Leod.

Locked deep within Castle Leod is an ancient map depicting the lands of Cromarty drawn up in 1762 as part of the government's order to map ‘rebels estates’. The map adorns each gift box .

The vintage was first put into American white oak ex-bourbon casks before being transferred to Matusalem oloroso sherry butts from world-renowned bodega Gonzalez Byass.[10]

  • Daniel Boulud

Chef Daniel Boulud worked with Richard Paterson to create this bespoke expression using aged stocks from Muscatel, Madeira, and Port.[10]

Record price[edit]

  • On 15 April 2005, a bottle of 62-year-old Dalmore was sold by Denis Barthe, Bar Manager of the Ascot Bar at Pennyhill Park Hotel in Bagshot Surrey, for £32,000. The blend was a mix of five casks, from 1868, 1878, 1922, 1926 and 1939. Only 12 bottles were produced.[11]
  • In 2010 the distillery completed production of Dalmore Trinitas, so called because only three bottles were produced. The first two bottles sold for £100,000 each.[12] According to the distillery website, the final bottle was sold in Harrods in London for £120,000 in 2011.[13]
  • In 2013, The Dalmore created the Paterson Collection, in homage to its Master Distiller Richard Paterson. The 12-bottle collection went on sale in Harrods for £987,500


  1. ^ "Dalmore". web.archive.org. 10 December 2014.
  2. ^ "Dalmore 12 Years". www.whisky.com.
  3. ^ "Dalmore 15 Years The Fifteen". www.whisky.com.
  4. ^ "Dalmore 18 Years". www.whisky.com.
  5. ^ "Dalmore King Alexander III". www.whisky.com.
  6. ^ "Philippines firm Emperador buys Whyte & Mackay for £430m". 9 May 2014 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  7. ^ Dalmore, The. "Our Royal Heritage". www.thedalmore.com.
  8. ^ a b "Dalmore". www.whisky.com. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d "Dalmore | Scotch Whisky". scotchwhisky.com. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z "The Dalmore Whisky Collection | The Dalmore". www.thedalmore.com. Archived from the original on 17 April 2018. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Bottle of Mallya&aposs rare Dalmore Scotch sold for £125,000 - domain-b.com".
  12. ^ "World's first whisky bottle to break the six-figure price barrier". Archived from the original on 22 September 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "Whisked Away". Archived from the original on 20 July 2019.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 57°41′18.28″N 4°14′22.13″W / 57.6884111°N 4.2394806°W / 57.6884111; -4.2394806 (Dalmore Distillery)