We Tried This Insane $1,200 Whisky Flight
At $1,200 per flight, the 100 Years of Dalmore is not a cheap proposition. It is, however, an absurdly tasty one. It’s available at The Bar at the Baccarat Hotel in New York City, which is a really swank place to tipple 100 years worth of finely aged whisky. Dalmore and the Baccarat Hotel graciously allowed me to come sample the flight, gratis. Here, eight thoughts that go through your head while you’re drinking whisky that costs $400 per ounce.
This Is a Clever Conceit For a Whisky Flight
Given that the Dalmore distillery began operations in 1839 in Scotland, this trinity of drams doesn’t mark a centennial celebration. The 100 Years of Dalmore instead involves a touch of math. The flight is comprised of Dalmore 40 Year Old, Dalmore 35 Year Old, and Dalmore 25 Year Old. Add up the expressions and you get a nice even 100 years of whisky.
These Are Incredibly Rare Whiskies
Given the upscale nature of the Baccarat Hotel, it’s not surprising that its bar menu contains a number of exclusive and coveted offerings. But each of the Dalmore expressions are hard to come by in their own right. A mere 750 bottlings of Dalmore 40 are released annually, while 1,000 examples of the 25 and 35 make their way out into the world. To have all three in one spot is like hitting the lottery.
The Flight’s Presentation Is Far Too Elegant For the Likes of Me
You’re invited to sit at a magnificent marble table inside The Bar, beneath an opulent crystal chandelier while a gentleman in an impeccable suit deftly arranges your tasting accoutrements. Upon a silver serving tray, out come a trio of Baccarat crystal dram flutes, engraved with Dalmore’s logo, a stag’s head. Behind them, the wooden boxes of the spirits are arranged in a semi-circle. With mirrored interiors behind a pedestal upon which these lovely bottles perch, even the boxes are glitz and glam to the nines. Behind this elaborate setup, a giant ball of red roses that likely cost hundreds of dollars looms large, emanating a beautiful aroma. I feel like I’m in Jay Gatsby’s drawing room.
Good Lord, the 25 Year Old Is Sublime
The first dram is poured, via a (pure silver, I presume) jigger. One ounce of amber liquid flows into my glass and we’re off. The nose on the 25 Year Old is soft, sweet, and fruity. “While the 25 is obviously older than a Dalmore 18, we’ve turned up the flavor profile,” says Jordan Zimmerman, Dalmore’s Brand Ambassador. “Our master blender Richard Paterson works hard to marry different expressions of some of the rarest wine casks in the world.” Paterson parked the 25 Year Old first in American ex-bourbon and first-fill bourbon barrels, then into sherry casks and finished it in Tawny Port pipes from Portugal. The results of the world aging tour? Heaven in your glass. At first sip, fruity notes spring forth but if you let it linger, darker chocolatey flavors dominate. My glass empties far too quickly.
Who Will Give Me $5,499 For a Bottle of 35 Year Old?
The next stop on Paterson’s journey is the Dalmore 35, which completes stints first in Matusalem (sweetened Oloroso) casks, then in ex-bourbon barrels and finally in Colheita port pipes from the 1970s. As this is explained to me, I nod as though I understand what these words all mean, but really all I’m familiar with is “bourbon barrel.” One needn’t understand how the finished spirit ages to appreciate the flavor, however. It’s very rich and complex, and delicious. There are hints of soft citrus upfront, which yield to the pleasant chestnut and coffee flavors, sweetened by an undercurrent of port. It’s so tasty that I don’t want to finish it, lest it’s my favorite. I leave a few drops in the dram and we move onto the final glass.
Savor the Dalmore 40 Because You’ll Likely Never Taste It Again
While a mere 750 examples are produced annually, the number that actually reach America’s shores are absurdly scant: only 58 bottles hit the US in 2017. “Dalmore sits at the apex of the single malt scotch category,” Zimmerman says at one point. After swirling the 40 Year Old around your palate, you find it hard to argue with that sentiment. Paterson created this expression to celebrate his fiftieth year in the whisky industry, and he didn’t pull any punches. It has the simplest aging process of everything we’ve tried: migrating between ex-bourbon and sherry casks, before finishing in first-fill bourbon barrels, and the result is the spiciest and driest liquid of the trio. It’s heavy on the oak with some pops of orange and caramel dancing on your tongue.
It’s Near Impossible to Pick a Favorite
I crack the banal jokes about pouring seconds, and everyone around the tasting table politely laughs and subtly moves the bottles further from me. I wouldn’t pass up a second dram of any of the Dalmore rare expressions. They’re all uniquely grand in their own rights, and as a triumvirate, they play wonderfully off each other. However, if I was paying, I’d go back for the 35 Year Old. I savor the last bits I saved in that glass, let it coat my mouth and wait as long as I can before swallowing. It’s just perfect.
The 150 Years of Dalmore Needs to Happen
I ask how long the flight will remain on the Baccarat menu. “So long as we’ve got the liquid, we intend to keep it available,” Zimmerman says. While she notes a few flights have indeed sold, she declines to provide an exact number. I only ask because I want to know how many whisky heroes are out there, walking among us. There are plans to bring the 100 Years of Dalmore flight to Las Vegas, too, but what happens when the liquid is all consumed? Given there was a wildly limited release of Dalmore 50 in 2016, perhaps a 150 Years of Dalmore flight could become a reality? Zimmerman flashes a sly smile. “Never say never,” she surmises.
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