Dalmore master distiller Richard Paterson has a deep passion for whisky. He has a story about each creation, taking whisky lovers back in time with every sip.
What makes you so interested in whisky?
My father introduced me to Scotch whisky when I was 8 years old. When I looked at the whisky for the first time, it inspired me. I am still thrilled when I see the Dalmore 62, the Dalmore 64 years old, the 25 years old, the 35, the 40; these are very aged icons, but each one of them, the Rivers Collection, the 50, the Quintessence, has so many warm memories for me.
Like high-quality perfume, a whisky should have at least 26 different nuances. Dalmore has a DNA of what we call chocolate orange. What I’m trying to do is allow that DNA, that style, to come through, but I must make sure it’s not overtaken by my casks. You also enhance the flavor by the food pairings. For example, in India, the chicken biryani works quite well with the Dalmore.
Perhaps my favorite is Dalmore Paterson Collection, which was just sold a few weeks ago to a young gentleman in Hong Kong. It took many years to put it together. All the whiskys are encased in a beautiful cabinet, with lovely solid-silver and handblown decanters. It contains whiskys that relate to the people in my life.
Every one of the 12 bottles are dedicated to those special people, past and present, who have helped me in my quest to learn more about Scotch whisky. They include people like my father, grandfather, Andrew Mackenzie and Andrew Usher, who is considered by many to be the founding father of blended Scotch whisky.
“Smell every part of the whisky because once you get to know it, it’s like a human being, it will open up.”
When did you start professionally?
I started in 1966. My first job, 51 years ago, was with A. Gillies & Co. in Glasgow. The distillery was in the region of Campbeltown. I stayed there for four years before joining Whyte & Mackay in 1970.
As soon as I joined Whyte & Mackay, many other single malts became part of the portfolio. We’re talking about Dalmore, Jura, single Highland malt, Fettercairn, Tamnavulin and Invergordon. They’re all very much a part of my life. Working with these distilleries brought me in contact with others. So, in the present moment in Scotland, we have 120 distilleries in operation.
Is there a right time for whisky?
The right time is when you feel it is; it may be a time to share with people you love. If you have a special dinner, then you have a coffee, follow it with a crème brûlée. Then take a whisky and a piece of dark chocolate at 72 percent. That coffee, that crème brûlée, that chocolate will all come together, and suddenly you no longer just have a dinner, you’ve got a banquet!
How can we get into the professional whisky world?
If you want to be part of whisky, you must be living it and breathing it seven days a week. What you need to do is come to Scotland, spend some time at the distilleries and work there. Be prepared to start at the bottom; you must give it time.
What is the role of a master blender?
First of all, he must create the style of his blended whisky. Once he establishes his style, he must maintain the consistency. You must think seven years ahead, having substitutions in advance, so that there’s no change to the consumer, or else you will lose him.
Should we drink whisky with or without water and ice, and at which temperature?
It’s up to the individual. I like to drink it without water, but if it’s too strong, I add some water. As for ice, it bruises its flavor. I avoid it and let the tongue warm it up as it goes down, but some people like to have that chill factor. And it should be in room temperature, without making it too warm.
What would you like to say to the new generation of whisky lovers?
Be passionate about whatever you do in your life. When you look at whisky, make it memorable. When you buy a bottle, it doesn’t matter which brand, just look at the history behind it. Don’t be in a hurry. Take your time and share it with somebody you love. When you take the whisky, put it in your mouth, hold it on top of your tongue, then underneath your tongue, and then back in the middle. The more you keep this whisky in your mouth, the more you extract the flavors, the more you’ll appreciate it, the more you’ll love it.
“Always remember to take your time when you’re nosing whisky. Never rush it. Let the spirit reveal its identity; every sample has a story to tell.”
Tell us about whisky and women.
Well, they both go together. Women now play a major part in the world of whisky. They are developing very strongly in the market. My greatest love is to meet a couple that share the same passion for whisky, because their love would be more devoted.
Tell us some secrets about the distillation of whisky.
In the golden days, many years ago, they did everything by the rule of thumb. Today it is a science; there’s technology. They didn’t have the technology, but they did know how to distill it. Today you can do some research and study it.
You should also smell every part of the whisky, because once you get to know it, it’s like a human being, it will open up. Then get the right cask because, at the end of the day, everything is about the cask.
A single malt whisky and Bordeaux wine amateur, Omar Chehab studied architecture at Alba University in Lebanon, and has his own architecture and interior design agency with offices in Beirut, Paris and Algiers. He has been designing high-end residential projects since 1992, and creates bars and wine cellars in his projects, following his clients’ requests. [email protected]See as Published