Thursday, July 30, 2009

Richard Paterson Teaches Us a Trick.

Richard Paterson is Master Blender at Whyte & Mackay, makers of The Dalmore Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky.

I had lunch with Paterson yesterday, along with his PR handlers and several other journalists. We ate, drank scotch, and listened to Paterson’s presentation about the company’s flagship single malt brand, The Dalmore, which has new owners, a new U.S. importer, and is being re-launched.

Paterson is one of Scotland’s best-known noses, but the highlight of his presentation yesterday was a parlor trick.

That may sound snide. I don’t mean it to. I’ve seen a million of these presentations, they’re all about the same, and this was a particularly good parlor trick executed by a master showman.

Paterson took a water glass that was about two-thirds full of plain water. Then he took a clean, white handkerchief, unfolded it, and draped it over the glass. Using his finger he made a well in the center and slowly poured in a few ounces of whiskey. Then he carefully removed the handkerchief and, voila, the whiskey was floating on top of the water, with a distinct line between them.

He even rocked the glass back and forth a few times, and the whiskey and water didn’t mix.

The trick isn’t hard to do, Paterson explained. The key is to make sure the handkerchief touches the water when you create the well and remains in contact with it as you carefully pour in the whiskey.

Oh yeah, The Dalmore. It’s good stuff. The familiar 12-year-old expression is still the flagship. It is an affordable and not-too-challenging entry into the world of premium single malts. But the new regime (The Dalmore used to be a Beam product) has broadened the line to include additional 15-, 30-, 40- and 50-year-old expressions (pricey), plus two NAS labels, called Gran Reserva and King Alexander III.

You can find out more about them here.

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