The Dalmore’s Richard Paterson: Aged 51 Years


When Richard Paterson is giving a master class on how to drink Scotch whisky, you show up on time, in your seat and ready to learn.


To experience a tasting led by Paterson – a 51-year industry veteran and Master Distiller for The Dalmore – is tantamount to getting a golf lesson from the likes of a Jack Nicklaus. From how to hold the glass to learning how to hold an aged whisky in your mouth, the vibrant Paterson delivers a relentlessly educational scotch sermon, and the congregation is hanging on every note – both spoken and tasting.


Paterson, similar to one of his high-end whisky expressions, is a rare blend of industry perspectives and abilities. Scotch history runs through his DNA. His grandfather founded a blending and bottling company in the 1930’s, which was eventually passed onto his father. The world of whisky was served to Paterson early and often, and in 1966 at the age of 26, he became Master Blender for Whyte & Mackay.


51 years later, with his whisky acumen still aging ever so nicely, he’s infusing his brand of knowledge into crafting The Dalmore into one of the more unique lines of drams on the market, boasting an impressive flight of luxurious flavors. 


We were thrilled to catch up with Paterson to learn about his story and his brand, The Dalmore. 


Breakthru: What is one of the most important aspects to your role as a master distiller?

Richard Paterson: The most important part of our process is making sure we get the right casks. For instance, when you have something like our King Alexander, we mature that in six different kinds of casks: Port, Madeira, Marsala, Cabernet Sauvignon, small batch bourbons and sherry. 60% to 70% of the influence on The Dalmore comes from the casks. The casks help create the story of the whisky.


You’ve been in the industry more than 50 years. What’s changed?

During the last 20 years, whisky festivals have been in all major cities and that has spurned the interest of the consumer. The awareness of Scotch whisky has really blossomed, and people are now prepared to pay for rare scotches.


Did you share scotch with your father? 

Yes. If I was able to tell my dad, “Well, dad, you know I’ve got 12 bottles at home worth 1.5 million dollars” he would probably turn over in his grave.


What’s the oldest scotch you’ve ever experienced?

There’s been a number of great ones. For instance, The Dalmore 64 Year contained whiskies going back to 1868. I’ve also had Ernest Shackleton's own 1907 whisky that had been under the ice for 103 years. These ones were real gems and hold many, many memories for me.


Tell us about the wide-ranging Dalmore lineup.

We have the 12, 15 and 18, and to get the desired level of exuberance and vibrancy to the taste buds, we introduce casks that previously held Matusalem Oloroso Sherry for 30 years. We thread that through all of these expressions. The 12 is suitable to enjoy in the afternoon, but once you get to the 15, you’ll want that later in the day to relax. With the 18 and the King Alexander, these are for after dinner because of the chocolate orange DNA.


What do you say to someone who is enjoying a fine Scotch whisky for the first time?

Some people can’t get out of that cowboy attitude of putting the whisky in their mouth and slamming it. What it’s supposed to be all about is holding it in your mouth – top of the tongue, under the tongue and back of the throat. Keep it in your mouth for at least 20 seconds. The longer you keep it in your mouth, the more you extract the flavors. 


What does scotch mean to you and your story?

A gentleman recently came up to me and told me he had wanted to meet me for a long time. He said he’d been studying my videos and my own history with whisky. He told me he never realized how much he could love whisky, and that moved me. Discovering the nuances of whisky is so exciting, and for me, being able to go around the world and introduce whisky to people warms me. 


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