Million Pound WhiskyJuly 22nd, 2013
It had to come at some point: the “million pound whisky.” And here it is. To be fair, The Paterson Collection of a dozen unique bottles of The Dalmore is actually on sale for £987,500, rather than a straight million pounds. However, that’s just because top London retailer Harrods decided it didn’t want this collaboration to be all about price, and instead hoped that people would focus on the rarity of the actual product and the sheer excellence of its presentation.
Nice idea, but it seems unlikely many headlines will be generated that don’t include the phrase “million pound whisky.”
This venture by The Dalmore’s parent company Whyte & Mackay, is the work of master blender Richard Paterson, and may be seen as the culmination of The Dalmore’s campaign to offer ultra-exclusive expressions, as exemplified in last year’s 21-bottle Constellation Collection, the first of which sold for £158,000.
The Paterson Collection is certain to increase the entrenchment between whisky drinkers and whisky collectors. It will undoubtedly attract criticism in some quarters along the lines that the whole project is divorced from the reality of the mainstream marketplace, and is effectively the equivalent of a motor manufacturer unveiling a futuristic concept car to gain publicity and a halo effect for its more down-to-earth offerings aimed at mere mortals.
Nonetheless, Harrods is confident its one-off Paterson Collection will sell and sell soon, though whether the purchaser sits down with a group of friends to drink their way through the twelve bottles remains to be seen. Richard Paterson is a passionate advocate of the view that whisky, especially very old and rare whisky, is there to be drunk, not form part of a hedge fund portfolio, but this collection seems destined to remain unopened, due to its value and unique nature.
So just what is the potential buyer getting for his or her money, and what will he or she be missing out on by not drinking it?
In order to create the collection, Paterson has plundered the darkest corners of Dalmore’s warehouses. The oldest whisky to be included in the series dates from 1926, while the youngest was distilled in 1995. Each decade from the 1920s to the 1990s is represented within the Collection, and every expression is named after one of Paterson’s Scotch whisky heroes. These are not single cask bottlings, however, but “assemblages” from several casks, which in many cases have then undergone secondary maturation in different types of cask prior to bottling.
According to Paterson, “I personally have invested a huge amount of time ensuring that each of these twelve expressions represent the very best of the incredibly rare and valuable stocks that we nurture up at the distillery in Alness.”
Glencairn Crystal has designed lead crystal decanters for the collection, which is housed in a wooden cabinet made by Gavin Robertson. Paterson himself has spent an estimated 1,000 hours or more crafting the contents of an 800-page handwritten, calfskin “ledger,” detailing aspects of Dalmore’s heritage, his own career, characteristically flamboyant tasting notes for the whiskies, and the story of how The Paterson Collection came into being.
The excellence of the whiskies themselves is not in doubt, and neither is the lavish yet discreet manner of their presentation. But can they really be worth £1 million? If someone buys them, then the answer presumably is yes!