Straight from the highlands
As A host of single malt brands continue to invade the middle east, the dalmore is looking to bring something A little unique to the table
Twenty miles north of inverness, a city in the scottish highlands, there lies a small town on the banks of the Cromarty firth, overlooking the Black isle. Alness is its name and it nestles in a climate laid bare to the harsh winds of the north sea on the east, with little respite from the wild lands to the west. This is where The Dalmore makes its single malt whisky.
single malt has been on something of an unstoppable rise in recent years. when once it was fashionable to relax with easygoing, smooth blends, connoisseurs have begun to yearn for single malts, which are traditionally more complex yet also more rewarding. This is just as true in the middle east as it is anywhere else, and it’s exactly why brands like The Dalmore are targeting this region and its many high-spenders.
“single malt is becoming a big hit
with the cigar lovers. It’s just a worldwide phenomenon at the moment and it’s just fantastic. This is boom time for whisky,” says Shauna Jennens, Distillery Ambassador at The Dalmore, speaking exclusively to Virutozity.
“It makes our job a little bit easier, but there are a lot of good whiskies out there, so it’s not always an easy category.”
Indeed, Jennens’ visit to Dubai was all about providing a little support to its regional distributor, MMI, which The Dalmore entered into a relationship with over a year ago. MMI has so far seen some amount of success with its Dalmore products, and aficionados are beginning to build an affinity with the brand, so Jennens’ trip focused on building on that momentum, providing training to brand ambassadors, and hosting tasting sessions with high-net-worth individuals.
Certainly, on the face of it, The Dalmore has the historical intrigue that befits a luxury brand. Its history 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’, and the right to use the 12-pointed Royal Stag as the Mackenzie clan crest.
The distillery itself was established many years later, 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 made for particular markets. There’s even a Distillery Exclusive, which can only be bought at the distillery in Alness. According to Jennens, it’s The Dalmore’s equivalent of allowing distillery visitors to bottle their own whiskies.
“We launch that every April around Easter time, and they come from all over to get that because you have to come to the distillery to get it. You can’t get it online, you can’t order it. It’s got to be physically in the shop. People wait until that’s out, and then they do their pilgrimage up to the distillery to get their bottle!” she says.
“A lot of distilleries do own bottling on site, so you do the tour, you go around, and then you get a bottle and you fill it yourself, and you write something on the label. But that’s not Dalmore, it’s not quite us. So this is our answer to that, if you like—a distillery exclusive.”
Regardless, in the Middle East, there are plenty of Dalmore whiskies to choose from. The Principal Collection is the entry-level one, and it contains big sellers like King Alexander III and the Cigar Malt Reserve (the latter of which is popular with cigar aficionados, unsurprisingly). There are also aged whiskies of 12, 15, 18, or 25 years.
The real star of the show, however, is the Constellation Collection. Launched in 2011, this 21-bottle collection unites a spectrum of rare single malt scotch whisky vintages. All of them have been distilled at The Dalmore’s highland distillery, but the catch is that they’re all produced between 1964 and 1992, so the youngest one is currently 24 years old.
Aficionados have jumped at the chance to own parts of this collection. It starts with the younger ones, which usually retail at around £2,500 to £3,000, or you can opt for the older single malts, which go for as much as £30,000. Alternatively, you might want to go for the whole set, which according to Jennens, goes for around £340,000.
MMI recently bought a Constellation Collection for Le Clos in Dubai International Airport. It will be on display for two months, as a message to buyers that this is an extremely rare and important set of collectibles—particularly in this region. Le Clos reckons that the bottles will eventually be sold as an entire set, and Jennens agrees, particularly given that there’s only a finite amount of whisky that will ever be set aside for this collection.
“There’s no reason why it shouldn’t move in this market in one complete set,” she says.
“It’s becoming more and more rare because each bottle has a different lifespan. They’re all single-cask, so because of that, the older we go back to the 1960s, the more the liquid is reduced. There’s not as much of those as the ones we bottled in the 1990s. In order for people to get the whole set, it’s now becoming very, very difficult.”
If the trend for single malts continues in the Middle East the way that it has in other regions, there seems to be no doubt that some high-net-worth individuals will want to get their hands on the Constellation Collection. For everyone else, though, even The Dalmore’s ‘entry-level’ collection offers a premium luxury experience that’s a little different to what we’ve seen before. As Jennens says, there are a lot of good whiskies out there, and now it seems another good brand has been added to the mix.