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

Virtuozity - - Handmade -

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.

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