There has never been a better time to embark on a quest for Scotch connoisseurship. Auction prices for rare spirits are soaring, with Sotheby’s reporting its highest ever wine and spirits auction sales last year totaling US$132 million ($183 million). Worldwide demand for whisky has helped a number of Scotland’s former “ghost” distilleries return to life. Whiskies are even being made in countries as unexpected as South Africa and Sweden. But with all of these options, there has also never been a more overwhelming time to be on the search for true liquid gold.
Thankfully, there are clear winners to look out for. The Dalmore set a new auction record for the luxury malt sector last October when a collection of six vintage single malts — known as The Dalmore Decades No. 6 Collection and featuring milestone releases bottled between 1951 and 2000 — sold for HK$8.75 million ($1.55 million) at a Sotheby’s auction.
Even single bottles of Dalmore have fetched grand prices, owing to tremendous age and rarity. When two (out of only three) bottles of the 64-year-old Dalmore Trinitas sold for over £100,000 ($170,000) each in 2010, it became the most expensive whisky ever sold. Between 2018 and 2020, the International Wine and Spirits Record (IWSR) revealed that Dalmore had also become the fastest growing single malt brand in the world.
This growth is bolstered by the brand’s constant push toward new frontiers. It became one of the first distilleries to enter the NFT playground, partnering with BlockBar.com to release The Dalmore Decades No. 4 collection in 2021. In March, it announced the sale of a 33-year-old cask as 223 NFT bottles.
The Dalmore offers plenty that doesn’t require a paddle or an internet connection to acquire, too. The Dalmore 21 is an excellent introduction to its core Principal Collection, made under the guidance of Master Distiller and industry legend Richard Paterson and his successor, Master Whisky Maker Gregg Glass. Matured in 30-year-old Matusalem Oloroso casks that are exclusive to the distillery, The Dalmore 21 promises a sublime sipping experience with chocolatey citrus on the nose, fruit and marzipan on the palate and a lingering finish of peach and ginseng.
The Dalmore’s almost 200-year pedigreed history makes it the shiniest feather in the cap of its holding company Whyte & Mackay, but that doesn’t mean its smaller whisky producers aren’t worth looking at. Jura is the biggest single malt brand by volume in the UK — remarkable considering it sits on an island that has a population of just over 200 people. Located off the west coat of Scotland, the island which gives the distillery its name also provides a community that is eager to help Jura’s whiskies prosper around the world.
With only one road, one pub and one distillery, there isn’t much else for Jura residents to do but make truly excellent whisky. The signature style is a little smoky with a whisper of sweetness, the result of marrying the Highland style of single malts with the Island style. By making both peated and unpeated whisky and blending them, the final spirits are bright, but smooth.
Blending different whisky types is not the only way to achieve distinctive flavour profiles. Tamnavulin, a rising star in the Whyte & Mackay portfolio, prides itself in finishing its spirits in wine casks. This way, Tamnavulin’s whiskies gain extra flavours from casks that used to hold sherry, cabernet sauvignon and even white wine.
The good news is you can expect to see more from these stellar Whyte & Mackay brands in the region following the company’s acquisition by Philippines-based Emperador Inc in 2014. You may recognise Emperador as being the world’s biggest brandy producer, but it is also a rapidly expanding global conglomerate with plans to grow its spirits empire. Best make room on your shelves.
Make a reservation to enjoy a Dalmore 21 pairing menu at the following Michelin-starred restaurants in the coming months:
- Saint Pierre
One Fullerton #02-02B
1 Fullerton Road
Tel: 6438 0887
- Shisen Hanten by Chen Kentaro
Hilton Singapore Orchard, Level 35
333 Orchard Road
Tel: 6831 6262
- Basque Kitchen by Aitor
The Fullerton Water Boat House #02-01/02/03
3 Fullerton Road
Tel: 6224 2232
104 Amoy St
Tel: 6221 3639
- Burnt Ends Bar
7 Dempsey Road #01-04
Tel: 6224 3933
In partnership with Emperador Inc.