The Dalmore Sets Another Milestone For Scotch With Its Latest Whisky, Now On Auction

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On October 20th, The Dalmore debuted its latest collection of prized single malts at a ceremony inside the V&A Museum in Dundee, Scotland. Dubbed the Luminary Series, it showcases an ongoing partnership between ultra-premium whisky and world-renowned designers. The first volume features structural flourishes from Kengo Kuma and Maurizio Mucciola, the lead architects of the iconic building in which the launch took place.

Of course, new releases in the spirits sector occur almost daily. And even artistic collaborations in the space have become commonplace. Nevertheless, there are a number of reasons why this particular launch isn’t like most others. Here’s a closer look at why...

The first thing to note is that Luminary No. 1 is actually two separate releases. The inaugural chapter contains both a Rare and Collectible edition. The Rare—as advertised—is an insanely precious 48-year-old juice of which only enough exists to fill three decanters. One of them is currently on auction through Sotheby’s and it’s expected to fetch over $100,000 by the time the hammer drops on November 16th. So it’s best not to get your hopes up there.

The Collectible, by comparison, is eminently attainable. It’s a 15-year-old juice which underwent a unique finishing process, spending time in both ex-Amarone barrels as well as bespoke “Kintsugi” casks—built from staves of Japanese Mizunara and Scottish oak from The Dalmore’s own backyard on the River Tay.

“They’re around 200 liters in size, give or take,” says master whisky maker Gregg Glass of the specialty cooperage. “One head was Japanese oak, the other head was Scottish oak and the body is American oak. And we even toasted [each component] differently. The Japanese had a slightly lighter toasting. We managed to do a heavier toasting with the Scottish oak to bring out these heavy coffee notes.”

The end result is a complex sipping experience. Initial elements of marmalade and ginger surrender to sandalwood and burnt honey in the finish. 15,000 total bottles have shipped out globally. If you act relatively quickly you should be able to secure one near its retail price of $245. But because it labels itself as the first of a series, it’s virtually guaranteed to inflate rapidly on secondary markets.

The idea of coming to market with a dual-strata release is a novel one. And it’s also one that serves a practical purpose: the Dalmore is able to promote the headline-grabbing auction liquid that no mere mortal will ever be able to taste, while at the same time giving the masses something that’s both innovative and relatively accessible. It’s a crowd-pleasing approach that might serve as a working template for ultra-premium brands moving forward.

But there’s something even more notable about The Luminary launch that speaks entirely to The Dalmore. The series appears to be a transitionary one from a personnel standpoint. The reigns and responsibility of whisky-making are slowly shifting from the legendary hands (and nose) of Sir Richard Paterson to Glass—his protege and heir apparent. While No. 1 is very clearly a shared vision—both craftsmen played a prominent role in conceiving the Kintsugi casks—it’s not hard to imagine that by the 2nd or 3rd Luminary offering, Paterson will be encouraging his disciple to assume a leading role.

Boasting a 56-year career with The Dalmore, Paterson is obviously not someone the brand can just replace overnight. Indeed, establishing a worthy successor will be a monumental milestone for the storied Highland malt producer. But if their latest launch is any indicator, they’ve got their next luminary waiting in the wings.