Sherried Malts: Barrels of Distinction

18 October, 2013

An illustration of how sherry casks sit at the very top table of the Scotch whisky industry is provided by the Dalmore Paterson Collection, an array of 12 unique bottles of the Dalmore, offered for sale as a one-off in Harrods London store during July for just short of £1 million. 

Each of the dozen bottles is an ‘assemblage’ created by Richard Paterson, and the use of sherry wood makes a major contribution to what we can safely call for the time being at least, the world’s most expensive whisky.

In a number of cases, the component whiskies for each bottling began their maturation in ex-bourbon butts before being transferred into Gonzales Byass Matusalem and/or Apostoles sherry butts for several years of additional enhancement. 

According to Paterson: “When using sherry casks to impart additional maturation to whisky previously filled into ex-Bourbon casks, the length of time it spends in those casks is crucial, and must be carefully monitored. You don’t want the sherry to overwhelm the distillery character.”

It seems that, so long as discerning consumers equate sherry wood maturation with quality and opulence, and are prepared to pay a premium for the privilege of drinking the resultant drams, the additional cost and sourcing effort for producers is wholly worthwhile.

And if you are selling 12 bottles for just shy of £1 million, the price of the casks in question becomes somewhat incidental.

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Nick Strangeway

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