The Dalmore distillery information

The Dalmore distillery was established in 1839 by Alexander Matheson, a partner in a Hong Kong-based trading company, who leased it to the Sunderland family. The distillery is located in former Ardross farm on the northern shores of the Firth of Cromartry, slightly North of Inverness. The name Dalmore is Gaelic for “Big meadow”. In 1850, the distillery was ran by Mrs Margaret Sutherland. Female distillers were (and still are) quite rare. By 1867, the distillery was rub by Robert Pattison, and brothers Alexander, Andrew and Charles Mackenzie.

In 1870, Dalmore was the first malt whisky that was ever exported outside Scotland, travelling as far as Australia. In 1874, the number of stills was doubled from two to four. Another exceptional feat for the time, as most distilleries were only equipped with 2 stills. In 1886, Alexander Matheson passed away, and the Mackenzie brothers were able to buy the distillery from Kenneth Matheson 5 years later in 1891.

The stag

One of their ancestors had saved the King Alexander III of Scotland from certain death when a stag was about to gore him during a hunting trip in 1263. The grateful King allowed Clan Mackenzie to use a stag with twelve points to its antlers as their coat of arms, and it is that stag that is displayed on every bottle of Dalmore whisky. More recently, the Clan Mackenzie slogan (“Luceo non Uro”, or “I shine, not burn”) has also been used in the branding.

World War 1

During World War 1, the distillery was closed, and its buildings were used by the Royal Navy to assemble American sea mines. When they left in 1920, the distillery was almost in ruins due to an explosion, and a fire. The legal battle over compensation for this damage took years, and even made it into the House of Lords. During the period the Navy used the site, a pier (“Yankee pier”) was erected, and is still present until this day. The distillery resumed production in 1922.

Ownership changes

In 1965, the malting floor was replaced with a Saladin box. Mackenzie Brothers (Dalmore) Ltd merges with Whyte & Mackay Ltd and forms Dalmore-Whyte & Mackay Ltd. in 1960. Whyte & Mackay had been customers of the distillery for years, with the majority of the whisky produced at Dalmore finding its way into the Whyte & Mackay blend. In 1966, four additional stills were added, for a total of 8 stills. The existing stills are converted to steam heating at the same time.  The Saladin box is taken out of production in 1982. In 1990, American Brands buys Dalmore-Whyte & MAckay, leading to a change in name in 1996. From them on, the distillery is operating under the name of Jim Beam Brands (JBB). In 2001, Fortune Brands (owner of Jim Beam) sells JBB, and the name of the company owning Dalmore is changed to Kyndal Spirits, and in 2002, it changes back to Whyte & Mackay Ltd.

In 2004, a visitor centre is opened. Whyte & Mackay Ltd is taken over in 2007 by United Spirits, a company from India led by Vijay Mallya. Through the acquisition, they also became owners of Old Fettercairn, Isle of Jura, and Tamnavulin.

The stills

The stills at Dalmore are quite special. Its wash stills are equipped with flat tops, rather than the usual swan necks. The spirit stills are all different shaped and sized, with one being twice the size as the others. The spirit stills are equipped with water jackets in order to achieve faster condensation. Two of the stills used today are actually stills that were installed in 1874. The master distillery at Dalmore is none other than Richard “The Nose” Paterson.

The Dalmore whisky

The spirit produced at Dalmore is matured in borh American and European oak casks. Additionally, Dalmore sources several other casks (port, wine) for finishing.

Their core range consists of:

  • The 12; matured in American white oak ex-Bourbon casks for 9 years, with half then maturing further in bourbon oak, and the other half transferred to Sherry butts
  • The 15; matured in American oak for 12 years, then 3 years in 3 different Oloroso Sherry casks; Amoroso, Apostoles and Matusalem
  • Cigar Malt Reserve; matured in a combination of American white Oak ex-Bourbon casks, Matusalem Sherry butts, and premier cru Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques
  • The 18; matured for 14 years in American ex-Bourbon casks, and then spending 4 years in Matusalem Sherry butts
  • King Alexander III; Matured in 6 different casks; Bourbon, Sherry, Madeira, Marsala, Port and Cabernet Sauvignon

Salmon rivers whisky series

Another range released in 2011 celebrates Scotland’s famous Salmon rivers. Parts of the sales of these whiskies will be donated to a conservation fund to protect the ecosystems of these rivers.

  • Tweed Dram
  • Spey Dram
  • Dee Dram
  • Tay Dram

Limited editions

  • Trinitas; 64 Years Old, containing whiskies dating back to 1868, 1878, 1926 and 1939. 3 bottles were released, one of which was bought for over 100,000 USD, setting a record at the time
  • Eos; 59 Years Old, filled from casks 1781 and 1782, distilled in June 1951, bottled in 2010
  • Selene; 58 Years Old; also filled from casks 1781 and 1782. Bottled in 2009
  • Candela; 50 Years Old. Containing whisky distilled in 1868, 1878, 1909, 1922, 1939 and 1951
  • Aurora; 45 Years Old
  • The 1978 ; First matured for 29 years in American white oak, followed by 2 years in Matusalem Sherry casks; limited to 477 bottles
  • The 1979 ; First matured for 29 years in American white oak, followed by 2 years in Matusalem Sherry casks; limited to 487 bottles
  • The 1981 Matusalem; matured in American oak for 22 years, followed by 6 years in Matusalem Sherry butts. Limited to 497 bottles
  • The 1981 Amoroso; matured in American oak for 26 years, followed by a short period in Amoroso Sherry butts. Limited to 484 bottles
  • Castle Leod; matured in American oak, followed by Spanish Sherry, and finished in Bordeaux barriques
  • The Mackenzie; Matured in American oak for 11 years, then 6 years in Oporto Port pipes.
  • Astrum; 40 Years Old. Distilled on December 31st 1966, matured in American oak, followed by 18 months in Matusalem Sherry butts
  • Gran Reserva; matured in a combination of ex-Bourbon (one third) and ex-Sherry (two thirds), which is married and then finished for 6 months in Sherry. A combination of 10 to 15 year old whiskies
  • Cromatrie; Matured in American oak, followed by Oloroso Sherry. Distilled in 1996.
  • Ceti; 30 Years Old. Matured for 23 years in American oak, followed by 7 years in Oloroso Sherry butts.

Distillery info:

Water sourceAveron of Alness
Owned byWhyte & Mackay Ltd.

Dalmore Distillery
Ross-shire, Scotland
IV17 0UT

+44 (0) 1349 882 362

Visitor centreYes
CommunityThe Dalmore Custodians

Distillery Setup:

Mash tun9.2 tonnes1 (Semi-Lauter)
Washback49,500 litres8 (Oregon Pine)
Wash still3 * 13,411 / 1 * 30,000 litres4
Spirit Still3 * 8,865 / 1 * 19,548 litres4
Expected yearly output in LPA (Litres of pure alcohol)4,200,000