One of the most recognisable things about The Dalmore is the stag emblem located on its bottles, which dates back long before the distillery itself. In 1263 Colin of Kintail, Chief of the Clan Mackenzie, saved King Alexander III from a charging stag and as a reward he and his family were given the right to use the 12 pointed Royal stag emblem on their coat of arms.
The distillery itself was founded in 1839 by entrepreneur Alexander Matheson, who leased it to the Sunderland family until 1867 when Alexander, Charles and Andrew Mackenzie took over the lease. When Matheson died in 1891, The Dalmore’s ownership passed to the Mackenzies and their Royal Stag.
They had already increased its production by doubling the number of stills to four in 1874 and The Dalmore built up its reputation over the next few decades until disaster struck in 1920. The Royal Navy had shut down production in 1917 when they started using the warehouses as factories for producing mines and three years later, an explosion and resultant fire badly damaged the distillery.
This meant that The Dalmore remained closed until 1922, while the Mackenzies were involved in a decade-long legal battle for compensation from the Navy. That didn’t stop the distillery from regaining its position in the market after that disruption and it was a major contributor to popular blends produced by Whyte & Mackay (W&M).
In 1960, the Mackenzies sold The Dalmore to W&M and today it remains their flagship, and largest, distillery with the Royal Stag still proudly placed on every bottle. Master distiller Richard Paterson is a big name in the industry, having overseen the production there for more than 50 years.