Dalmore distillery stands on the banks of the Cromarty Firth in the North East of Scotland. It is owned and operated by Whyte & Mackay. The distillery produces Highland single malt Scotch whiskies known for maturation in ex-sherry casks. Each bottle carries the image of a 12-pointed stag.

Dalmore distillery's stone buildings on a grey cloudy day viewed from the entrance path
Dalmore distillery near Inverness, Scotland


Around 95% of Scotch is matured in casks that once held bourbon whiskey from the USA. However, Dalmore is a heavy-bodied single malt that better suits maturation in ex-sherry casks.

American and European oak casks are sourced from the Gonzalez Byass bodega in Spain. These imbue the spirit with notes of almond, orange, chocolate and dried fruits. 

Other cask types are used to provide alternative flavour profiles. Both port wood and red wine casks feature regularly.

Cut open oranges on a white background
Glass of sherry
Barley grains
Shreds of chocolate


Dalmore has eight pot stills. There are four wash stills and four spirit stills. Three wash stills hold 13,000 litres each but the fourth holds double. All four have flat tops which encourage heavier flavour compounds. 

The spirit stills are similar, with the fourth being larger than the rest. Each spirit still is fitted with a water jacket that cools the neck. The rising spirit vapours reach the cooler section and drop back into the pot to be distilled again. This increases reflux and creates complexity in the spirit.

Vapours from the still feed into condensers mounted horizontally on the exterior of the building. This unusual setup was designed to mimic traditional cooling methods. In the early days, vapours cooled back into liquid form by travelling along a pipe submerged in the burn outside.

The spirits produced by the different stills vary in character. These are vatted together before being transferred to oak casks. 


Dalmore was founded by Alexander Matheson in 1839. Matheson was an entrepreneur and an innovator. He was an early adopter of the maturation techniques we now accept as standard. Matheson was among the first to sell whisky in Asia and the first to introduce the spirit to Australia.

Black and white historical image of the whole Dalmore distillery area viewed from above
Black and white shot of Dalmore distillery buildings from above

In 1867 Matheson sold to Andrew and Charles MacKenzie. Under their ownership the distillery began its long association with the 12-pointed stag of the Mackenzie family crest. This dates back to 1263 when Colin of Kintail, chief of Clan Mackenzie, rescued King Alexander III from a charging stag. Every bottle of Dalmore carries the emblem.

In 1920 the distillery was heavily damaged when the British Royal Navy accidentally exploded a deep sea mine nearby. A legal battle between the MacKenzies and the Royal Navy lasted years before reaching the House of Lords. Eventually the family were awarded full damages and loss of earnings.

Dalmore remained in the MacKenzie family until 1960, when it was sold to Whyte & Mackay. In 2014, the company was taken over by Phillipines drinks group Emperador

Despite several changes in ownership, master blender Richard Paterson has worked with the distillery for more than 50 years. In that time he has guided the brand’s growth from blend-fodder spirit to luxury single malt.

Today, the Dalmore is one of the most collectable whisky brands in the world. Special vintage releases often change hands for tens of thousands of pounds. In 2010 a bottle of the 64 year old Dalmore Trinitas became the first whisky to sell for a six figure sum.