What is a PBR girl doing tasting a $12,500 bottle of Dalmore 45?

What is a PBR girl doing tasting a $12,500 bottle of Dalmore 45?
Master distiller Richard Paterson shows the proper (and pretty much only way) you should hold a glass when tasting. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

  “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whisky is barely enough."
...Mark Twain

I like to think of myself as a person of simple tastes. Not that I haven't partaken in some of the finer things in life--often with a touch of gold leaf. But Dom Perignon Champagne, Wagyu Beef, Venezuelan dark chocolate, foie gras and saffron aside, what is the fascination with high priced, foods, spirits and wines?

Are they worth it? Is it a gimmick? Or a ploy for media attention?

Is that $25,000 taco or diamond-encrusted ice cream worth the price tag? Is the record-breaking $5000 price for a hamburger really  worth $4500 more than the $500 hamburger people were talking about a couple of years ago? And are either of them better than Billy Goat's iconic Cheezborger or Chicago's award-winning Au Cheval burger?

Although I can't speak for the above, one thing that may just be worth the price, that is, if you can afford it--is The Dalmore 45. It could  even be called a bargain considering the time and effort that goes into its creation.

What is The Dalmore 45?

Simply put, it is an aged, refined single malt whisky. So why is The Dalmore 45, worth $12,500 while the taco's $25,000 price tag seems questionable.

Here's what I think:

The Dalmore 45.

The Dalmore 45.

The Time

Last week, I meet with Scotland-based Master Distiller Richard Paterson in the Drawing Room at Chicago Athletic Association's Hotel--the perfect backdrop for an introduction to this exclusive spirit. 

Paterson who has  over 50 years of experience in the industry, mostly at Whyte & Mackay and The Dalmore Distillery in the Scottish Highlands, is the man behind The Dalmore 45.

He has passionately and patiently handcrafted the whisky for the past 45 years. Not unlike a proud father, he was there from the beginning, when The Dalmore 45 was just a twinkle in its maker's eye.

Forty-five years is a long time. Think about it. Where were you in 1973--if you were even alive. Things have changed in a big way since then when the average cost of  a new house was $32,500.00; average income was $12,900; rent $175; and a gallon of gas 40 cents.

The Aging Process

Initially the whisky is aged in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, carefully selected by Paterson (from the Kentucky Ozarks region). The liquid is then transferred into two different Vintage Graham’s Port Colheita pipes dating from 1961 and 1963 to create layers of flavor, which are indulgent, smooth and complex.

For its final flourish the whisky is married together in first fill American white oak ex-bourbon casks providing it with a truly unrivaled finish. The importance of the proper casks can not be overlooked.

Dalmore’s use of multiple casks showcases the distillery’s commitment to exquisite cask curation, which focuses on sourcing and utilizing only the best casks from the world’s finest bodegas and wineries.

The Bottle

The Dalmore 45 is presented in a decanter designed by artisans at renowned French crystal house Baccarat, the hand-blown decanters are adorned with The Dalmore’s iconic 12 point Royal Stag emblem produced by Royal Warrant Holders Hamilton & Inches. This Royal Stag is a symbol of the brand’s promise to remain at the pinnacle of single malt. You will find it on every bottle of Dalmore.

The Whisky

Purposefully retained at 40% ABV, The Dalmore 45 features exquisite flavors of red berries, soft liquorice, crushed hazelnuts, bitter chocolate and Manuka honey. This is followed by the sweet flavors of sticky toffee pudding, Bramley apples and juicy dates to finish. On the nose, it boasts a selection of aromas including Molasses, toffee, treacle cake, Sanguinello blood oranges, almond and Java cake.

The Tasting

Although I thought I knew scotch, as I have tasted some $100+ single malt Macallans and Glenlivets, not surprisingly, The Dalmore 45, is nothing like I've ever tasted.

It order to appreciate the tantalizing selection of fruits, nuts, berries, bitter chocolate and other flavors, it really needs to be tasted.

So how do you taste an $12,500 spirit?  Carefully. There is definitely an art to it which Paterson demostrates here: 

The Legend of the White Stag

Dalmore not only has a long history, it has a story and a famous painting that goes with it.

According to the legend, in 1263 during a hunting party with King Alexander III of Scotland, a 12-point stag charged at the King, and of all the men there only one acted, Colin of Kintail, Chief of the Clan Mackenzie. He speared the stag in its forehead, crying out ‘Cuidich ‘n’ Righ’, Gaelic for ‘Save the King’ as he struck.

The Painting

Dalmorestagpainting

The massive painting depicting the legend, "The Fury of a Stag" by Benjamin West can be viewed at the National Galleries of Scotland. Click here to learn more about the legend on canvas.

Investment

Although Paterson didn't want to discuss rare whisky as an investment--as he believes it should be consumed and enjoyed, he did admit that the majority of "collectible" bottles sold remain unopened.

A recent CNBC story said, "Investment in old, rare and exclusive bottles of whisky is booming. In the U.K. alone, the value of collectable bottles of Scotch sold at auction broke a record high of £11.18 million ($14.34 million) in 2017 – a rise of 94 percent from 2016.

Whisky brokerage and investment experts from the valuation firm Rare Whiskey 101 said,  'that the number of bottles of single malt Scotch whisky sold at auction shot up by almost 50 percent since the first half of the previous year."

Where to find The Dalmore 45

In April, Dalmore released 500 bottles ot The Dalmore 45 worldwide--100 in the U.S.--5 of which at press time are available at Chicago at Binny's. 

The Dalmore 45 pairs best with

Paterson suggests waiting until after dinner to sip the Dalmore 45--pairing it with good friends, dark chocolate and quality coffee.

Alternatives...just in case

If you can't afford, the 45, The Dalmore Port Wood Reserve also released this year, is very drinkable and can be found for less than $100 a bottle. It has been purposefully retained at 46.5% ABV to complement the enticing warm flavors of the port with notes of crushed almonds, cinnamon, ginger and citrus.

Just for fun...Is it Whisky or Whiskey?

Today's trivia: In Scotland it's Whisky. In Canada, India and Japan, it's also Whisky. In Ireland it's Whiskey. In the states, it's Whiskey with some exceptions including: George Dickel, Makers Mark and Old Forester are Whisky.

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