Scotch with a Caribbean Flair

  • Richard Carleton Hacker

Most single-malt Scotch is aged in either ex-bourbon barrels or sherry casks, or a combination of both. Depending on the geographic origin of the oak, each imparts its own distinctive flavors to the aged spirit, with American oak producing more floral notes, while European oak sherry casks result in a slightly darker, spicier whisky. For well over a century and a half, these have been the traditional boundaries of single-malt aging.

So one can imagine the excitement felt by Mahesh Patel, whose company Sirius sources rare whiskies for a discerning clientele composed of investors and consumers, when he recently discovered a rum barrel—Cask #2055—that had been filled with new-made spirit on February 24, 1967, and had since been sequestered in the furthest reaches of the Dalmore distillery, fabled for housing the oldest whiskies in the Scottish Highlands. Although the Dalmore’s master blender, Richard Paterson, had long been eyeing this Caribbean cask, Patel and his checkbook finally persuaded the distillery to relinquish its cherished treasure.

The cask was bottled in 2011 at 44 years of age, but evaporation—known as “the angel’s share”—had taken its toll over the years, as there was only enough Dalmore 1967 Vintage left to fill 89 bottles, which are priced at $3,500 each. Befitting the uniqueness of the wood in which it was aged, this single-barrel whisky is dark and thick with flavors of molasses, chocolate, and candied dried fruit. And yet it has a lingering undercurrent of marmalade, a signature Dalmore hallmark. Non-chill filtered to retain its maximum character, it is best appreciated with just a splash of water, not only to tame its cask-strength 120 proof but as a reminder of the whisky’s island heritage. (770.817.0727, mahesh@siriuswhiskypurveyors.com)

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