The Dalmore Constellation Collection: the sky’s the limit
Whisky Advocate contributor Ian Buxton attends the launch of the new Dalmore Constellation line, and then ponders.
I recently attended the launch of Dalmore’s new Constellation Collection. The venue for these events is generally carefully chosen: the distiller (or more likely the PR agency) managing the launch needs a location that reflects what they are trying to say about the brand concerned.
So, when the invitation directed me to a security check prior to proceeding to Heathrow’s Royal Suite, more commonly the haunt of Britain’s Royal Family and other heads of state, the message was clear. This was to be about privilege, luxury, and exclusivity.
And so it proved. The Dalmore Constellation Collection comprises 21 different whiskies of varying ages designed to showcase different aspects of the North Highland distillery’s character through various finishes. Their ages range from around 20 years (a 1992 Vintage) to a venerable 1964 Vintage.
Many have been the subject of intensive finishing. Take the 1966 Vintage, for example. It started life in an American White Oak Bourbon Cask; was transferred in 2002 to a ‘Matusalem’ oloroso sherry butt and then in 2008 to a ‘Distillery Run’ bourbon barrel.
Sounds fascinating, and the four whiskies I tasted were more than acceptable. But, before you get too excited, here’s the bad news. Prices start at around $3,200 for the entry level 1992 (yes, $3,200 for a 20 year old whisky) and rise to approximately $32,000 (not a typo) for the 1964. So you probably won’t be buying any, but Dalmore say they expect to ship 20,000 bottles over the next five years.
All of which raises a fair few interesting questions.
I found myself wondering how long this trend to extremely high pricing can continue. Who is buying this whisky and what are they doing with it?And how many times can you move spirit from one cask to another without distorting the original character? Why would you do this anyway?
I’ve suggested before in these pages that this level of pricing has an inflationary effect on all whiskies as envious rivals reach upwards to match it. So, though I enjoyed tasting the Constellation Collection, I left the Royal Suite reminded of the fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes.
Which is presumably not what the PR agency had in mind.
You now know Ian’s thoughts on the proliferation of new, very very expensive whiskies (The Dalmore Constellation, Glenmorangie Pride, Diamond Jubilee by John Walker & Sons, etc.). How do you feel about it?