The Dalmore distillery lies in the northern Highlands on the east coast. The site, on the banks of the Cromarty Firth was originally a mill and farm yard which in 1839 was converted into a distillery by Sir Alexander Matheson. He was a partner in his family’s business, Jardine Matheson & Co, which traded in everything from whisky and tea to opium with Hong Kong.
On completion, he leased the distillery to the Sunderland family, who ran it until 1867. The lease was taken over by the Mackenzie brothers, Alexander, Charles and Andrew who bought the distillery outright as a result of the 1886 Crofters Act.
In 1917, production was halted as the Royal Navy took over the warehouses and turned them into munitions factories. By the time the Navy left in 1920 the distillery was barely operational following a fire caused by an explosion in one of the warehouses filled with munitions. While compensation claims were debated in the House of Lords, production resumed in 1922.
In 1960 the distillery merged with Whyte and Mackay and things were stable until 1970 when Whyte and Mackay had the first of many changes in ownership and name which continued through to 2007 when they were purchased by Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya's United Brands group.
Given that the three Mackenzie brothers bought Dalmore Distillery back in 1886, it is perhaps understandable the distillery has since had ties with the Clan Mackenzie. Well, legend has it that back in 1263, Colin Fitzgerald, founder of the Clan Mackenzie was out hunting with King Alexander III of Scotland when he saved the king from attach from a stag by spearing the beast through the forehead. The grateful monarch granted Mackenzie the lands of Kintail in Ross and the 12 point royal stag emblem which the Mackenzies adopted, along with the phrase ‘Cuidich ‘N Righ’ (Help the King) as their coat of arms. This heroic act is the reason the twelve pointer stag or ‘Royal Stag’ emblem now proudly graces every bottle of Dalmore with the more prestigious expressions in the range featuring a metal stag’s head rather than just a printed image.
Dalmore’s floor malting were replaced by Saladin maltings in 1956 and these remained in use until 1982 when the distillery started buying its malted barley centrally. In 1966, the number of stills was doubled from four to eight so making the distillery one of the largest in Scotland. The four wash stills at The Dalmore distillery are uniquely flat topped while spirit stills are cooling on their necks causing reflux which adds to the distinctive character of the spirit coming of them.