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Issue 56 - Rolling Rivers

Scotland Magazine Issue 56
April 2011


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Rolling Rivers

Ian Buxton looks at a new link between two of Scotland's greatest assets

What does Scotland call to mind for you? Whisky, perhaps. It’s certainly an icon – and so too are Scotland’s great rivers. The Dee, Spey, Tay and Tweed are noted not only for their grandeur and spectacular scenery but for their part in Scotland’s tourism and sporting economies.
But to maintain that great beauty and for the sake of Scotland’s precious environment funds are constantly needed for the tender loving care that, all too often, we take for granted. This is the work of the River Boards, established by legislation which aims to protect, enhance and conserve stocks of Atlantic Salmon and Sea Trout and their fisheries.
So it’s encouraging to see Scotland’s ‘Big Four’ boards embracing an innovative collaboration with distillers Whyte & Mackay which will raise up to £400,000 annually to support their work.
This magnificent sum will come from sales of The Dalmore Rivers Collection, four bespoke expressions of this noted single malt which aim to reflect the personalities of the four different rivers. The whiskies have been created by Whyte & Mackay’s master blender Richard Paterson who has called on every one of his 40 plus years of experience to create these drams.
“In order to create the Rivers Collection I worked closely with each of the Trusts and local fishermen to really get to know the mood and personality of each river,” says Paterson.
In the end Paterson has come up with four very different whiskies.
“The River Tay is well known for landing some of the biggest salmon on record and to reflect this I needed to make sure the whisky was majestic, commanding and packed a big weighty finish to it. The Tweed on the other hand is revered for its beautiful scenery and in autumn its glorious colours and scents which I matched with the intense flavours of nutmeg, ginger and autumnal apples. I often match whiskies to people’s personalities so it’s been a exciting challenge to create whiskies based on natural elements such as rivers.”
For their part, the Boards are delighted. A pilot scheme in 2010 with a Dee Dram sold out in nine weeks and raised £35,000.
The project is not entirely without controversy however, with some rival Speyside distillers a trifle uneasy to see a whisky from outside the Spey catchment (Dalmore is rated a Northern Highland malt) carrying the sacred Spey name. But that seems a mite ungenerous and their concern misplaced. The labelling is clear enough and the purpose undeniably a noble one.
Priced at around £40, for every single bottle sold a minimum donation of £4 will be gifted to the relevant river trust or foundation.
Dalmore has recently been in the media spotlight for its very high priced luxury whiskies, culminating late last year with the £100,000 per bottle Trinitas. So whisky enthusiasts will be fascinated to learn exactly how this collection was created. Essentially, each expression within the Dalmore Rivers collection has been individually matured in a combination of bourbon American White Oak and the finest Oloroso “Matuselem” sherry wood from the world-renowned bodega Gonzalez Byass, Spain.
These are all positive, full-flavoured whiskies. They are all intriguingly different: wonderful drams to toast a great example of positive collaboration.

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