The Dalmore Decades is a collection of Dalmore’s oldest and finest. And this case, it’s a collection that spans six decades.
Age matters; age doesn’t matter. A decade ago, one was ‘true’ and the other wasn’t, marketing-wise. But one thing has remained constant: at the luxury end of things, exclusivity matters.
And no wonder. Aged whisky is a rarity in itself, even more so casks that have held up even after decades in wood. While taste is subjective, the fact that you’re holding a piece that’s essentially a snapshot in time, cannot be understated.
Three collections of Dalmore Decades were produced in this case: the No.6 Collection, the No.5 Collection and the No.4 Collection. The number denotes the number of bottles presented in the set; only one bottle exists for the No.6 Collection, 15 for No.5, and 25 for No. 4.
The Decades Collection features a piece from the sixties and spans all the way to the first scotch created in the new millennium (1951, 1967, 1979, 1980, 1995 and 2000).
The No.6 Collection has already in the hands of an unnamed Asian private collector, having been auctioned at Sotheby’s for US$1,124,000 (S$1,522,813). To date, it’s the most valuable whisky lot ever sold by the auction house in Asia.
The primary difference between No.6 and No.5 is that No.6 features a 60-year-old distilled in 1951 and is the only complete set of Decades in the world. One of 15 sets of No.5 has been allocated to Singapore and is accounted for by a local collector.
While you will probably need to proffer up an insane amount of cash to pry one of the No.5s from a current owner’s hands, the No.4 Collection of 25 covetable sets is a little more within reach (it’s all relative; best if you have a rich relative) by virtue of quantity. It is a smaller collection though, covering only four decades (1979, 1980, 1995, 2000).
For options that don’t involve a kidney sale or exclusive connections, the Rare and Aged Collection (35, 40 and 45YO) is available (again, relative; but you don’t need rich relatives this time) for public sale.
Appendix: Dalmore Decades Collection official notes
The Dalmore Decades 1951
The astonishing 1951, a 60-year-old single malt, is one of the oldest whiskies ever released by The Dalmore. It is the last of the whisky distilled during the Mackenzie era, during which the practices which persist to this day were developed and perfected.
The spirit ran off the stills under the vigilant gaze of Colonel Hector ‘HAC’ Mackenzie, the last of the Mackenzies to manage The Dalmore, who took over the running of the distillery from his father in April 1946.
This enchanting spirit began its long journey to maturity in twin refill Oloroso sherry casks: Casks #1781 and #1782. But every cask is different, and this pair – both filled with The Dalmore’s new make spirit on the same day in June 1951 – encapsulates just that truism.
In the decades that followed 1951, brother and sister veered off in different flavour directions, only to be brought back together to create a superlative whisky that is so much more than the sum of its parts.
Once tasted, never forgotten. The sherry wood has cast its magical charm to reveal enticing flavours of pecan pie, banana fig cake, crushed almonds and hints of Chinotto oranges. As these enchanting flavours disperse, they are quickly replaced by juicy raisins drenched in Marsala, thick treacle, overripe pineapple and frangipane.
The Dalmore Decades 1967
An impeccably elegant 53-year-old single malt, laid down in 1967, a landmark year in which the stillhouse as it stands today was created. This single malt provides complex but wonderfully intriguing layers of clementine, tangy ground coffee and muscovado, thanks to its final maturation in a Mont-Redon Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine barrique.
The Dalmore Decades 1979
This 40-year-old single malt is a tribute to the longstanding relationship between González Byass and The Dalmore. The 1979 has enjoyed maturation in a particularly fine Matusalem Oloroso sherry butt before a final maturation in a Graham’s Port Vintage 1952 – one of Port’s rarest vintages. The resulting whisky is exuberant sultanas and toasted pistachios, finishing in pleasant notes of maple syrup, pineapple, and succulent dates.
The Dalmore Decades 1980
The 1980s marked Richard Paterson’s arrival at The Dalmore and his tutelage by the last Mackenzie. Like his predecessor, Richard’s long-standing tenure personifies a commitment to the vision of the distillery established 180 years ago. This 40-year-old single malt takes the traditional maturation of The Dalmore and reverses it: the whisky moves from Bourbon casks into Matusalem sherry butts, then spends more than five years back in first-fill ex-Bourbon casks before bottling – a bold move which brings renewed life and vivacity to the spirit. The 1980 promises beautifully orchestrated single malt layers, which include a gentle whisper of bitter chocolate, marzipan, and cocoa powder.
The Dalmore Decades 1995
The 90s welcomed the creation of an icon The Dalmore’s minimalist bell-shaped bottle, its sinuous curves echoing the voluptuous shape of the stills through which the distillery’s matchless spirit runs. The 1995 is matured in ex-bourbon casks and finished in spectacular Tintilla de Rota port pipes. It offers a burst of red berries, glazed nectarines, frangipane, and moist pecan pie on the palate, building to a triumphal finish.
The Dalmore Decades 2000
At 12:02am on Saturday, 1 January 2000, as the world celebrated the dawn of a new age, workers at The Dalmore were at their posts securing a notable achievement for the Highland distillery: the first in Scotland to run new spirit off the stills in the third millennium, officially witnessed three minutes after midnight.
The final whisky of The Dalmore Decades is also perhaps the most distinctive: it has spent all 20 years of its life in a Matusalem Oloroso sherry butt in a radical departure from the distillery’s practice. Rare and intriguing, black maraschino cherry and bitter chocolate drench the palate, and a final kiss of liquorice and tarte tatin ebbs slowly in the background. While it took 20 long years to craft this unique spirit, its exceptional quality can be recognised in a matter of seconds.
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