This Ultra-Rare Scotch Whisky Bottle Was Designed By A Famed Architect

A stunning Dalmore single malt Scotch collector’s edition could fetch six figures at auction.

Courtesy The Dalmore

Connoisseurs of ultra-rare whisky and incredible architecture will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity later this month when Sotheby’s auctions off one of the most exclusive and beautiful single malts ever created. The Dalmore Luminary – The Rare – 2024 Edition consists of a bottle of 49-year-old single malt from the legendary distillery’s rarest stocks, housed in a gorgeous glass sculpture by Melodie Leung of Zaha Hadid Architects.

We expect it to fetch in excess of $100,000, with all proceeds being donated to Scottish design museum V&A Dundee. There is only one other example of the sculpture in the world, which will be housed in the Dalmore’s archives. The project took two whole years to complete.

Courtesy The Dalmore

In addition to the marquee item, The Dalmore will release The Dalmore Luminary – The Collectible – 2024 Edition, a 16-year-old single malt housed in a presentation case that “echoes the glowing, swirling design of The Rare sculpture,” available in a limited edition priced at $350. Both whiskies were selected by Leung from The Dalmore’s precious casks in collaboration with Gregg Glass, the brand’s Master Whisky Maker, and Richard Paterson, Master Distiller.

Courtesy The Dalmore

“While crafting our two new whiskies, we used the technique of time—nurtured carefully to transform through blending—to elevate The Dalmore to a new level,” Glass says. “Flavor, color and form meet together in a holistic sensory experience with swirls of texture, depth, complexity and nuance.” These concepts are impeccably interpreted via the sinuous curves of Leung’s sculpture, while the amber hue echoes both the distillery’s copper stills and the liquid within.

Courtesy The Dalmore

The 49-year-old whisky offers up layers of intense vanilla, dark berry fruit and cacao aromas, with a palate of freshly roasted chestnuts, blackcurrant, Doyenne pears and soft patisserie spices leading to a subtle, sweet smoke finish. Glass and Paterson selected casks for Leung to sample based on nostalgic flavors and sensory recollections from her youth. The Collectible edition whisky finished in selected Italian Amarone red wine casks, having begun the process in American white oak. “This was a true meeting of minds, and the new releases beautifully express the shared journey we’ve all been on,” Glass notes.

Courtesy The Dalmore

“Experiencing The Dalmore’s outstanding craftsmanship first-hand and being initiated into the complex world of whisky making by Gregg and Richard provided extremely fertile ground for design inspiration,” Leung shares. “The sculpture we created for The Rare was inspired by our fascinating discussions around the interaction and flow of flavor notes in the whisky-making process. It mirrors the multiple layers of aging and blending that went into creating this whisky, which is the exquisite product of nature channeled over time.”

Courtesy The Dalmore

Speaking further about her inspiration for the design, Leung said that after visiting The Dalmore’s distillery she began “to understand what is the process of the making of the expertise of the craft behind the whiskey. And through that discovery process, I was really inspired just by starting to imagine the almost unseen movements that create the final product of the whiskey. The way that the stills have this movement of the particles which is continuous and three dimensional, and the way that those layers through all of the different casks and the movements of the hands handling them.”

From left: Richard Paterson, Melodie Leung, and Gregg Glass. Courtesy The Dalmore

Leung was born and raised in Chicago and studied at University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, then earned her Masters from the Graduate School of Architecture at Columbia University. She has been the director of the world famous design studio Zaha Hadid Architects since 2005, and worked alongside Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Hadid for 11 years. Leung leads a team of more than 500 designers at the firm. Some of Hadid’s highest profile projects include the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics, the Broad Art Museum in Los Angeles, Rome’s MAXXI Museum, and the Guangzhou Opera House in China.

Courtesy The Dalmore

“Our Luminary continues Zaha Hadid’s philanthropic endeavors, including nurturing up-and-coming designers to think individually, generate creative visions, and inspire to remain at the forefront of the industry,” Leung says of the fact that proceeds from the auction will go to V&A, one of the UK’s most important design museums, linked to the original V&A museum in London.

Courtesy The Dalmore

The Dalmore distillery was founded in 1839 by Alexander Matheson. It’s rarest and most exclusive whisky release to date, a 62 year old, sold for $250,000 and is listed as one of the ten most expensive bottles of whisky in the world. The Dalmore is one of the most storied and most awarded distilleries in Scotland, known for its equally beautiful bottles and branding.

Courtesy The Dalmore

The legend of the Dalmore dates back to 1263, when Colin of Kintail, then the Chief of the Mackenzie tribe, saved King Alexander III of Scotland from being killed by a stag. He dispatched it with a spear as he shouted “Save the King!” The king then bequeathed Colin with land, and the iconic logo of the Damore bottle features the iconic 12-point Royal Stag as a crest.

Courtesy The Dalmore

In 1839 The Dalmore distillery was born on the bleak banks of the North Sea, bucking the trend of the many distilleries then being founded in Speyside, and marking it off as more individual in character. The Mackezie family bought The Dalmore in 1867, connecting the ancient legend with more modern history. The Dalmore’s Luminary series celebrates the distillery’s relentless pursuit of excellence “through compelling collaborations between luminaries in whisky mastery and architectural design.”

Courtesy The Dalmore

“From their respective homes in Scotland, both V&A Dundee and The Dalmore are integral to the community, and cultural hubs at the heart of the region,” said a spokesman for the brand. “Both V&A Dundee and The Dalmore are proud champions of Scottish culture, and unite to celebrate a relentless pursuit of excellence. Their collaboration is anchored in exporting shared purpose, talent and stories, and in curating and advocating exceptional design and craftsmanship.”

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