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The Whisky Whisperer on What the Future Holds for Single Malts

The Dalmore’s Richard Paterson is bullish on the future for whisky.

Richard Patterson Photo: Cesar Huitron

The Dalmore produced luxury aged whiskies even in the 1800s when others were releasing only five-year-olds. What’s changed in the last 30 years?

Distillers all look to push each other to release that special whisky. The growth of the secondary market is also very significant, with auction houses like Bonhams making record transactions. Then there is a definite appetite for landmark whiskies with real character. It’s also a joy to see how spirits packaging has evolved.

What was the Scotch industry like in 1988?

The luxury market was less focused on malt whisky in the 1980s, as blended whisky remained extremely popular. Malt and luxury whiskies were only starting to become popular in the 1990s.

What’s behind the shifts?

Consumers have become more knowledgeable, discerning, and demanding. They are looking for the very best experiences in life, from cars, watches, houses, and the whiskies they buy.

Dalmore Casks

Dalmore Casks  Photo: Dalmore

Which master blender do you admire?

David Stewart MBE and the team at Balvenie have been responsible for some amazing aged whiskies.

Predictions for the future? 

I think the spirits industry will continue to grow as consumers become more discerning, as they are looking for a point of difference to elevate their knowledge and status. Single malt will continue to gain popularity around the world, particularly Asia, where there are many new consumers waiting to discover our whiskies. Innovation is always something that excites me and that will continue to be top of my agenda as we move forward into the future.

There could be a move toward super-limited editions or casks for individual consumers. We are seeing some really exciting non-aged statements come to the fore. To create whiskies that do not rely on age as a defining flavor factor is very exciting and challenging for a distiller. They give us the opportunity to become artists, and create an abundance of flavors using some of the world’s most interesting and exquisite casks.

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