Luxury illuminated in the Luminary experience

‘Slange Var!’

When appreciating whisky, this is the most commonly used toast before taking a mouthful of the golden liquid that has enamored countless people across the world.

“Good health” is what this Scottish Gaelic drinking toast means. And, perhaps, for those who enjoy the drink, it is about how a whisky’s slow, smooth burn brings a kind of comfort to the soul — a rare pleasure, indeed.

The Dalmore, a name in whisky built upon a long heritage of quality, craftsmanship and exclusivity, produces some of the world’s finest liquors, premium among them the ultra-rare series called The Dalmore Luminary.

With only 15,000 bottles produced and only eight bottles available in the Philippines at Rustan’s, the “quintessential luxury single malt” is always highly anticipated by connoisseurs.

Ritual to a smooth swallow

No doubt these rare and collectible whiskies are to be savored on the very best occasions, but for one evening in Manila, we got to sip three kinds — with some excellent canapes, to boot.

Taking us through the whisky experience was The Whisky Expert in Asia George Schulze, who invited us to “take a little less than half a mouthful, swirl around the tongue for maybe five seconds — first over the tongue, then under the tongue — chew, 3, 2, 1…breathe and then swallow.”

So, we take a sip of a dram, swirl, above then below, chew, count, breathe and swallow — and the liquid slips down my throat like fire. Good fire, I think, as I feel my eyes tearing and I let out a slight cough that elicits a giggle from somewhere to my left.

“It’s spicy, and it’s shock spice. Don’t be ashamed if you feel this at first,” assures Schulze. “Whisky will only get smoother from this point on.”

Smooth is the word, indeed, for the 12 Year Old, with a flavor profile that hints at chocolate, citrus and creme caramel, notes of vanilla pods and dried fruits, “and on the finish, roasted coffee and dark chocolate.”

The 12 is, Schulze says, a “beautiful introduction into the house style of Dalmore.”

The 15 Year Old, “one of the bestsellers around the world” and “widely regarded as one of the best whiskies in the entire principal collections of The Dalmore,” is just as smooth, with a distinct flavor profile.

Having learned to spread the whisky around my palate, the golden liquid went smoother down the throat this time, and I listened to murmurs of appreciation as Schultz described the drink’s flavor profile.

The 15, he said, is an amazing whisky that ages for 12 years in an American oak and gives it a flavor profile of caramel, honey, vanilla, toffee, apples and tropical fruits. To “nose it,” he explained, “just a light tap,” gently put the glass under one nostril with the mouth slightly open — first the left then the right nostril “to get the full body.”

“What you’ll immediately get is a hint of cinnamon, the spice that comes from the sherry casks. You’ll get a sense of almost like a thick citrus peel, you could describe it as a marmalade…”

Oops, it turned out I had taken the wrong glass, thinking the arrangement of glasses was from left to right. I was actually already swirling THE Luminary — the star of the show — around my tongue while perusing The Dalmore emblem.

The stag is something rather special — rendered so that it depicts the royal legacy of the distillery, “dating back to 1263. The emblem was bestowed upon Colin of Kintail, the first chieftain of Clan Mackenzie, after he saved the life of King Alexander III of Scotland from the fury of a charging stag,” Schultze had earlier related.

The Luminary on my tongue
— “sweet, bright and bold” — took me further into the story of Dalmore, exquisite, fluid, precious. It seemed, even for a moment inside a store, surrounded by the buzz of activity, I found “a rare pleasure.”

‘Apex of luxury’

I could now fully understand why he said “whisky is about conversation and communication,” as I perused each aspect and facet of the drink we were appreciating.

From emblem to box to bottle to the precious liquid it held, The Dalmore revels in its distinctive traditions and opulent collaborations, this time with Scotland’s prestigious V&A Dundee design museum for The Dalmore Luminary.

According to the brand, “The inaugural Luminary No. 1, 2022 Edition masterfully unites renowned architect Kengo Kuma and Maurizio Mucciola, lead architects of V&A Dundee, with Dalmore’s Master Distiller Richard Paterson OBE and Whisky Maker Gregg Glass.”

This whisky — 46.8 percent ABV, a little spicier than the previous ones we tasted — will be the only batch of this Luminary, Schulze emphasized. Next year it will be a different set of casks and collaborations, making it truly “a rare pleasure.”

“Each release becomes a bespoke showcase, celebrating the talents chosen by The Dalmore’s esteemed Master Distiller,” he added.

This is essentially the message that Rejina Menguito, marketing officer, and Miguel Aquino, brand associate, of Whyte & Mackay Asia, explained to the DAILY TRIBUNE, during the grand premiere of The Dalmore Luminary Series at Rustan’s Makati, a loyal partner of The Dalmore since 2015.

“What makes The Dalmore the apex of luxury is that it is a masterpiece made with time,” Menguito said.

The Dalmore house style, revealed in hints of chocolate and cherry, comes from its exclusive access to casks that no other distillery has access to.

Its other bottles, such as the King Alexander III, is made without the aging process but focuses more on the taste, which is why it is made with six different casks, formed into one, explained Aquino. “As George (Schulze) would like to say, it’s like a box of chocolates — you don’t really know what flavor you’re gonna get.”

Also, there is the distillery’s partnerships with brands like Rolls Royce, Lambhorgini and Emirates
— “players that redefine what luxury means,” she added.

Each bottle of The Dalmore Luminary — made with the rare combination of Scottish, Japanese and Italian oak casks — is at P25,888.

The Dalmore Booth is at the Men’s Department Section of Rustan’s Makati.