Throughout the 21st Century, single malt scotch solidified its status amongst the world’s most revered luxury investments. The Dalmore has been instrumental in that movement. Time and again, the historic Highland producer has smashed price records for single bottles of whisky. This week it seems poised to notch a new benchmark when a one-of-one collection heads to auction at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong. The Dalmore Decades No. 6—a set of six liquids dating back to 1951—is expected to fetch over $680,000 when the hammer drops.
By all accounts, it’s a particularly auspicious era for the 180-year-old distillery of Alness. Beyond the upcoming auction, the brand just launched a new 30-year limited edition bottling. It will be the first in an ongoing series of annual, ultra-high-end allocations.
The distillery has also just entered into a four-year collaboration with V&A Dundee, Scotland’s first dedicated design museum. It’s a partnership intended to shine a greater spotlight on the creative energy populating the space—and to help bankroll it: The Dalmore is directing 15% of the proceeds from the upcoming Decades sale back to the V&A, which must raise a minimum of $1.35 million USD annually just to keep the lights on.
To kickoff the partnership, V&A Dundee and The Dalmore co-produced an art film entitled, “Decades In The Making.” The evocative short brings into focus two visionary creators: Kengo Kuma, the world-famous architect behind the V&A Dundee (as well as the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games National Stadium), and master distiller Richard Paterson, who last year marked his 50th year working with The Dalmore.
Nicknamed, “The Nose” for his always charismatic and almost-supernatural sensory approach to single malt, Paterson first unveiled Decades No. 6 at a special engagement at V&A Dundee late last month. The response was predictably electric, with especially high praise doled out for the earthy and vegetal tones of the 1967 expression as well as the leather-laden rancio bomb that is the 1980. The 2000 release, which spent time in speciality Matusalem barrels from the Gonzalez Byass sherry bodega in Jerez, Spain, is notable for being the first scotch crafted in the new millennium—distilled at 12:01am on January, 1st, 2000.
Works of art both inside and out, the six bottles each feature individually designed silver-plated stoppers, as well as mirrored display pedestals with haloed lighting. They go live to the world by way of a global auction at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on October 8th at 11am local time.
Although The Dalmore Decades No. 6 is a one-of-one, it is now joined by the only slightly more accessible No. 5 Collection, featuring five vintages selected by Paterson from between 1967 to 2000. 15 sets are available globally starting at $272,000. The No. 4 Collection holds 4 expressions, from 1979 through 2000. 25 sets are available at $136,000 each through select retailers in the UK, France, Canada and The Netherlands.
While these sorts of liquids are aspirational—to say the least—part of the genius of Paterson is his ability to build a coherent and consistent house style. Meaning that whether you’re pouring from a $250,000 bottle of 64-year-old Trinitas or a $60 bottle of entry-level Dalmore 12, you’re guaranteed a balanced malt with rich complexity. Although sherry influence is common here, these aren’t your run-of-the-mill “sherry bombs.” They are liquids that often play dark fruit against pepper spice and caramel cream. With The Dalmore it’s never one-note, but it’s always one-of-a-kind.