Recently the fine folks at Whyte and Mackay hosted a Dalmore scotch dinner/after party event in Downtown Houston. Several members of the press and local fine spirits emporiums were invited to attend. I happened to be one of the very fortunate few that was chosen to be present. This was my experience.
Part 1: The Dinner
The evening began at the III Forks Steakhouse in the central downtown area. The event’s itinerary included sampling various types of single malt scotch blends in the Dalmore product range along with enjoying a four course meal. The meal commenced with a plate of appetizers that included fish, jumbo shrimp, and a bacon-wrapped scallop. As this part of the meal was presented, the first round of Dalmore was also given to the crowd. This was the Dalmore 12 year Highland single malt. The tasting notes from this particular scotch were of honey, light caramel, cereal, fresh pears, and citrus. The finish was that of American oak.
Next up was a salad that consisted of fresh Romaine lettuce, pecans, bleu cheese, and what could only best be described as a caramel vinaigrette dressing. Interestingly, as diverse as the flavors were in the salad, it paired quite nicely with the next round of Dalmore whisky to be tested, the Gran Reserva (formerly known as The Dalmore Cigar Malt). Gran Reserva’s notes were much more pronounced and robust. The whisky was pungent with heavy caramel, polyphenols, traces of dark chocolate, and berries. It finished with strong sherry and American oak cask zest.
The group was now to be served the main course of the evening, a choice of a 10 oz grilled salmon filet or an 8 oz steak filet. I chose the grilled salmon which was served with sides of creamed corn, mashed potatoes, and fresh veggies. As the wait staff brought us our plates, we were also served the next round of Dalmore, the 15 Year single malt. The notes consisted of warm toast, honey, maple, roasted nuts, and orange towards the middle. The finish was that of heavy sherry and bourbon. It is of interest to note that the malt character in this variant simply pops when settled on the palate. The main course and the whisky unfortunately were too sharply contrasting in flavors and thusly did not pair well.
The grand finale of the collation was a slice of dark chocolate cake drizzled with dark chocolate sauce and a sliver of chocolate on top. Mr. Paterson of Whyte and Mackay made a point of educating the audience that the next whisky to be enjoyed paired quite well with 70% cocoa fat dark chocolate and coffee. This whisky was the King Alexander III single malt. Coffee was also then presented to the group as the conclusion to the terrific cuisine. In short, Mr. Paterson was right. The notes of the King Alexander III began with the aforementioned coffee and chocolate piquancy but moved then to toffee in the middle. The finish was the real surprise however, as the King Alexander III scotch is stored in five different types of casks, leading to the complex sensory involvement of one’s entire taste buds.
As the dinner began to wind down, I was treated to a surprise. Mr. Paterson, the master blender of Whyte and Mackay, allowed me to sample one of the world’s rarest and certainly the world’s most expensive whisky, The Dalmore 62. It was created from four casks of single malt dating from 1868, 1876, 1926 and 1939. Only 12 bottles exist in the world and according to Mr. Paterson, each would retail currently for around $200,000. I won’t even begin to try to explain the flavor. It is much too complicated to write in words. I will only say that it may have single-handedly ruined all other scotches and possibly even all other whiskys in general. I will instead summarize the flavor in one word, heaven.
Part 2: The After Party
The night was set now to conclude at a rock and roll bar in midtown Houston right outside of downtown by the name of the Diesel Dive Bar. To say that the change of scenery from a high-end steakhouse to a gothic-themed rock club was jarring is probably the understatement of the century. Conversely if The Dalmore was to break out of the traditional thinking that scotch is an old man’s drink and instead reach a younger audience, this was a great place to start that process. Diesel Dive Bar was a very nice club for what it is intended to be and I was honored to be a VIP guest. Furthermore I should point out that the bar’s owner Mike was one of the most knowledgeable on whisky/whiskey I have ever encountered. He is also the proprietor of the Reserve 101 Whiskey Bar which features one of the most diverse collections of whisky/whiskey in Houston.
I finished the night being wowed by the spectacle of fire-breathers, pole dancing go-go girls on a fiery stage, henna tattoo art, and one of the friendliest wait and bar staffs I have had the pleasure of being a patron of. The 12 Year and Gran Reserva Dalmore scotches were also complimentary for the remainder of the night which I found to be fantastic. I sincerely would like to thank Trent Roberts and Richard Paterson of Whyte and Mackay and Laura Baddish of The Baddish Group for their invite and generosity. They certainly provided me with a night I will never forget. Pick up all of the profiled Dalmore products at your local area Spec’s Liquor and Fine Spirits store. Check the website for your nearest location.
Editor’s Note: Due to awkward phrasing and some inaccuracies regarding the age of the Dalmore 62, the article has been updated with the correct information in the paragraph regarding this whisky.