I had the good fortune to be invited along to the opening of Dalmore’s new Visitor Centre a few weeks ago, and had been looking forward to it from the moment I’d received the invite prior to that. Although I’ve passed that way several times, I’ve never had the opportunity to call in, and it’s set in one of the most spectacular parts of Scotland.
The journey by train took me up through the Cairngorms, and as I passed Dalwhinnie, I began to hanker for a dram, but thought it best to save myself and my palate, as I knew there’d be a couple of treats in store for us Dalmore.
I was staying at the beautiful (and somewhat grander than I’m used to – although I’m happy to beome accustomed to this…) Novar Estate, and once I’d been shown ’round, I headed to my room to get prepared for the tour of the refurbished centre and dinner.
The centre has been very much remodelled in sympathy with the original building, whilst really emphasising the luxury elements that tend to be associated with Dalmore. The very talented and friendly husband and wife team, John and Mary-Louise, who undertook the design and refurb were there, and very graciously took the time to answer some of the questions I had regarding the ins and outs of sourcing certain materials and lighting installation. Having worked in scenic carpentry for a few years, I can be a construction/design-bore in addition to being a whisky-bore. Ever the multi-tasker…
Once the tour had concluded, we made our way back to the Alchemy Room, which is where we were joined by Richard Paterson for an extremely special tutored tasting, which included the superb Dalmore King Alexander III – one big, bold dram, which takes in the flavours of six different vessels in its journey from still to bottle. An amazing feat of blending. Beautiful stuff.
We were treated to a beautiful meal by catering from The Storehouse, and the drams kept coming – an amazing Dalmore 1978 which had been matured in Gonzales Byass Sherry casks for over 30 years. Not the sort of whisky you encounter every day. Rich and luxurious stuff. During the meal, I was sat next to Ian Mackay and got to bend his ear about his days at Invergordon, as well as his role at Dalmore. Luckily, he was another patient soul who put up with my questions without getting irked. I was just happy to have been invited to an event with such a wealth of whisky knowledge around the table. Who wouldn’t use that opportunity to ask a few questions?
If you want to be wowed by luxury, then I’d heartily recommend a visit to Dalmore – but more importantly, the people are friendly, knowledgable and passionate about whisky, and really that’s what’s at the core of this malt. Beneath the bling and theatre, this is a craft with much care invested in it. You can taste that in the results.