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Tuesday 1 May 2012

A Stellar Whisky Tasting: The Dalmore Constellation Collection

Hot on the heels of new releases in to travel retail from Glenfiddich, Auchentoshan and Laphroaig, to name but a few, is a brand playing on a whole different level altogether.

In our last post, I wrote about Auchentoshan releasing five new expressions in to travel retail, ranging from around thirty five quid to around a hundred and thirty pounds. However, Richard Paterson and the good people at The Dalmore distillery have only gone and, as they say in South London, ‘dropped da bomb’ when it comes to Global Travel Retail as today saw the launch of the new collection of whiskies from The Dalmore distillery. All 21 of them.

Yes, that’s right- I said 21.

No, really. TWENTY ONE.

Twenty one single casks are being released under the banner ‘The Constellation Collection’ in partnership with airport owners BAA. These limited edition offerings will be available for one month exclusively from BAA's main Duty Free store in Heathrow’s Terminal 5, with prices ranging from £20,000 for a bottle of the Vintage 1964 to £2,000 for a bottle of Vintage 1992.

If you're feeling flush, then the entire collection will be available for £158,000.  Interested? Well, if you’re quick (as well as flush) then World Duty Free has been allocated two complete collections; all the number 1 bottles from each year and all the number 8 bottles from each year. No 1’s for the goalkeeper in you and No. 8 for the Chinese in you. What a dilemma if you’re the ‘keeper for the Chinese National Football Team...

So, what are these 21 different bottles and how much are they? 

A good question and one of the things that Richard Paterson and The Dalmore should be applauded for, is their level of detail of information on each of the whiskies released. It shows the care and attention to detail that has gone in to the maturation of each whisky as well as highlighting that the whisky has nothing to hide.

Applause all round from me, a hardened whisky geek, on this level of info.

So, here are the answers:

1964 American White Oak moved in 2008 to an Oloroso Sherry Butt - £20,000

1966 American White Oak, Bourbon Cask, moved in 2002 to a ‘Matusalem’ Oloroso Sherry Butt and finished in 2008 in a  ‘Distillery Run’ Bourbon barrel - £17,500

1969 American White Oak, ‘Quercus Alba’ finished in 2009 in a ‘Small Batch’ Bourbon Barrel - £15,000

1969 American White Oak, ‘Quercus Alba’, moved in 2005 to a ‘Matusalem’ Oloroso Sherry Butt and finally finished in 2009 in a Bourbon Barrel - £15,000

1971 Wood from the Ozark Range of Missouri, ‘Distillery Run’ Kentucky Bourbon Barrel - £13,000

1972 Gonzalez Byass ‘Apostoles’ Oloroso Sherry Butt finished in 2008 in a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel - £12,000

1973 American White Oak, followed in 2005 by French Oak, Cabernet Sauvignon Cask and finally into ‘Small Batch’ Kentucky Bourbon Barrel in 2008 - £11,000

1976 American White Oak, Freshly Filled Bourbon Barrel - £8,000

1978 American White Oak, ‘Quercus Alba’ moved  in 2007 to a ‘Matusalem’ Oloroso Sherry butt - £6,000

1979 American White Oak, ‘Quercus Alba’ - £5,000

1979 European Oak ‘Quercus Bobur’ Gonzalez Byass Sherry Butt - £5,000

1980 American White Oak - £4,000

1980 Gonzalez Byass ‘Apostoles’ Oloroso Sherry Butt - £4,000

1981 American White Oak finished in 2006 in ‘Amoroso’ Oloroso Sherry Butt - £3,750

1981 Gonzalez Byass ‘Apostoles’ Oloroso Sherry Butt - £3,750

1983 Gonzalez Bypass ‘Apostoles’ Oloroso Sherry Butt finished in 2008 in ‘Distillery Run’ Bourbon Barrel - £3,250

1989 Freshly Emptied Bourbon Barrel and then in 2006 in ‘Matusalem’ Oloroso Sherry Butt - £2,750

1990 American White Oak and then in 2009 in ‘Matusalem’ Oloroso Sherry Butt - £2,500

1991 American White Oak, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel finished in 2008 in ‘Amoroso’ Oloroso Sherry Butt - £2,250

1991 American White Oak, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel / 2002 Gonzalez Byass ‘Lepanto’ 15 Years Old Brandy Cask / 2008 ‘Distillery Run’ Bourbon Barrel - £2,250

1992 American White Oak ‘Quercus Alba’ / First Fill Kentucky Bourbon barrel / 2002 European Oak ‘Quercus Robur’ Port Pipe - £2,000

Quite the range, huh. And it doesn’t stop there. The plan is to replicate this series annually until 2016, dropping around 4,000 bottles a year over the next four years. That’s an additional 20,000 bottles of limited edition Dalmore in the market place by the end of 2016. For those of you who like to collect whisky, it is going to be interesting to see what effect this has on the residual price of your bottles. I was always taught that ‘less is more’ and scarcity drives prices,so I’ll leave you to do the maths on that one.

One of the areas of focus for The Dalmore on this collection has been to standardise the packaging across the range, so it is the liquid that gets the attention, not the box or the bottle. Having said that, they have done a fantastic job with the bottles which, as you can see from the pictures, look fantastic.

But what about that liquid? Well, I was lucky enough to try four different drams from the range this afternoon at Heathrow; the 1992, 1973, 1969 and the 1964. My pick of the bunch was the following:

The Dalmore – 1973 – Constellation Collection – 48.1% abv

Nose: Rich tea biscuits, blackcurrant cordial (neat), black forest gateaux, rum and raisen chocolate, plums.

Palate: All the classic fruits you’d expect: blackcurrants, plums, prunes and fresh figs. Black cherries dripped in nutella.

Finish: Very strong and long, this really lasted well with good balance and power.

Overall: Obviously, a stunning whisky. Of the four we had, the two younger ones were the stand outs for me. The whiskies from the 1960’s were good, with excellent aged wood on the palate but the personality was not as strong as in the slightly younger drams we tried, which were more to my taste.

So, if you've got a few quid spare in the bank and you’re passing through Heathrow Terminal 5 sometime in the next four weeks, do stop and have a look at the collection and, if you’re feeling particularly generous, there are two offerings from my birth year (1979) and either will do as a gift....!