A few months back I had the pleasure of visiting Scotland as a guest of legendary whisky brand, The Dalmore. The trip was a short but sweet one. I can’t believe how much we got done in less than three days. Check it all out below!
Our trip began in Scotland’s beautiful capital, Edinburgh. It’s such a lovely city with so much culture and history. From the architecture to the people and food, I fell in love with this city from the second we landed!
For the Edinburgh portion of the trip, we stayed at The Balmoral. This is an amazing hotel that’s been around for over a century, located at Edinburgh’s most exclusive address of No. 1 Princes Street. The hotel itself is a landmark, in the center of the city.
Naturally, after a cross-continental flight, we were pretty hungry and in need some grub. We went to Bon Vivant, a super delicious restaurant serving simple, yet amazingly executed dishes of the highest quality. The staff here is very friendly and knowledgeable too, which is always a plus.
After a few hours of (not enough) free time to explore the city, it was time for an early dinner at Scran and Scallie. Created by two of Scotland’s top chef’s, this gastro-pub offers amazing home-cooked dishes using quality, locally sourced ingredients. This was another amazing meal; we were two-for-two!
We started day-two with a morning visit to the Scottish National Gallery to see the famous Fury of the Stag painting. It’s definitely something you need to see in person as it measures a whopping 12×17’. The painting is significant to The Dalmore brand, here’s why: unlike other whisky companies that merely claim a classical lineage, The Dalmore actually has roots that span the test of time. The Dalmore brand gets its name from an old Scottish legend. Colin of Kintail was the chieftain of the ancient Mackenzie clan back in Scotland. He famously saved King Alexander the Third from a stag that was charging at him. After saving him, the great King gave Colin a reward of having the distinction of using the stag as his family’s crest. Some 600 years after that, the descendants of the Mackenzie clan joined forces with an entrepreneur named Alexander Matheson. From there, they formed the company that is now known as The Dalmore. The whisky brand has used the iconic stag as its logo from that very day on. The symbol itself is known as the caberfeidh.
After our museum visit the Edinburgh portion of our trip was almost complete, but not before some yummy lunch at The Devil’s Advocate. Just like the previous two spots we ate in, this one didn’t disappoint either. The Devil’s Advocate is a bar, and restaurant situated in the historical Old Town of Edinburgh, in an old Victorian pump house hidden away in Advocate’s Close. Walking to this spot, it feels like you’re in the world of Harry Potter. Anyway, the food is delicious, offering traditional Scottish dishes and 200+ options of whisky.
From Edinburgh, we took a bus to The Novar Estate, some 20 miles north of the city Inverness. The estate is absolutely massive, extending some 20,000 acres which include farmland, forestry, hill, shooting, and fishing. The walled garden and Ardtalla (where we stayed) remain at its heart. Waiting for us at the estate was an amazing dinner with all locally sourced ingredients.
Day-three (final day) was a busy one! We started with some clay pigeon shooting after breakfast. This was the first time I’d actually fired a gun/rifle and boy was it exciting! Note to anyone firing a shotgun for the first time – beware of the kickback!
Next up was a trip to Loch for lunch at the boathouse which overlooks the River Alness. This river is significant to The Dalmore because all water used in their whisky comes fresh from here. This is a differentiating factor that helps set them apart from the rest of the pack and helps refine the whisky so the taste is perfect.
The final stop on our journey brought us to The Dalmore distillery, which is home to some of the oldest and most prestigious whisky stocks in the world. If I learned one thing about The Dalmore, it’s the fact that they ALWAYS put quality over everything and they will never sacrifice this for the sake of sheer volume.
To facilitate this maturation process, the brand features two different cask types where the whisky is aged to perfection. The first type takes place in American white oak bourbon casks, and the second type used for maturation are aged sherry casks from Gonzalez Byass. Want a cool fact? The Dalmore is the only distillery with access to these rare aged sherry casks owing to a centuries-old relationship between the two houses. Both of these casks result in the production high-quality whisky and they are overseen by master distiller Richard Paterson, whose eye for incredible whisky is second to none. Both casks result in unique tastes and qualities to the whisky. The sherry cask provides a deep copper hue and nutty, dessert-like flavors on the palette. The bourbon cask gives the whisky hints of vanilla, spice, honey, and more of a fruity finish.
Our trip came to a finish with a beautiful dinner and chat with master distiller Richard Paterson. He’s a legend in the industry and just recently celebrated his 50th year in the whisky business. In 2013, The Dalmore created the 12-bottle Paterson Collection, which recently sold for over $1M!
Special thanks to all of the folks at The Dalmore for a truly memorable trip. Can’t wait to come back!