The worlds of fine dining and whisky often collide under the guise of food pairings and tasting events, but a unique collaboration like this is supremely hard to come by. 180-year-old Scotch whisky distillery The Dalmore has teamed up with Massimo Bottura, the famed chef-proprietor of Osteria Francesca, to create a hyper-exclusive, one-of-a-kind bottling of L’Anima Aged 49 Years. Suffice to say, there will never be another bottle like it.
This legendary one-off release is set to be auctioned by Sotheby’s in an online sale for charity, benefitting Bottura’s own non-profit Food For Soul, which fights food waste by hosting regular dining services for families and individuals in need. The estimate is from £65,000–100,000 (approximately HK$664,000 to just over HK$1 million). The bidding window ends 9 May, 10pm Hong Kong time and has already met its reserve with 20 bids.
It is said that talks for the partnership began when The Dalmore’s master distiller Richard Paterson met with chef Bottura following the awards ceremony for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018, where Bottura took home the number one spot for the second time since his win in 2016 (and a slight dip to number two in 2017).
The Dalmore has been described as “the definitive luxury malt” since its beginnings in 1839, so the matching of a superlative single malt with the best restaurant in the world is hard to ignore. But rather than a collaboration based on a food-whisky pairing as one might expect, the partnership is all about the attention to excellence that the two gentlemen share in the respective worlds of whisky and food. It’s about their respective obsessions for innovation on the palate. The result is a more cerebral one representing the spirit of their craft — “L’Anima” refers to “the soul” in Italian, after all.
Working at such a storied house, Richard Paterson gets to pluck from some of the rarest and most exquisite casks in the world, all at his disposal. The L’Anima Aged 49 Years was created from three rare Dalmore expressions: Whiskies previously matured in freshly emptied small-batch bourbon barrels; Gonzalez Byass casks that previously held Pedro Ximenez sherry for 40 years; and Graham’s vintage port pipes.
Paterson’s tasting notes start with an aroma of sun-kissed raisins, chocolate and marmalade, continuing on the palate with crème brulée, pecan pie and Java coffee, and finishing with Sanguinello blood oranges, treacle and succulent figs. Fruity, juicy, roasty — classic comfort with an innovative twist, as chef Bottura’s award-winning menu and culinary talents suggest.
We were lucky enough to join in on a small tasting of the whisky ahead of the close of bidding, and were floored by the intense complexity in flavour. Rolling on the tongue luxuriously with a light spice, we found a very light touch of herbaceousness, like rosemary or mint, in the background; tasting further, we detected a powdery, yet juicy berry and refreshing citrus note — for us, it was like digging into an Eton Mess with a glass of iced lemon tea in the summertime.
Who knows if the winning buyer (likely a keen Dalmore collector) might even get to taste the L’Anima before it reaches their hands, but without a doubt it’s a collector’s item for the ages. Bottled in a Baccarat crystal decanter with a sterling silver collar and stopper, it’s then presented in a bespoke walnut and olive wood cabinet made by hand. Also, not only does the hefty price get you the bottle, it also includes a wine pairing tasting menu for two at Osteria Francescana, valid for a year from the day of the auction. Oh — and the ultimate bragging rights, of course.
Online bidding for the Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years ends 9 May 2019, HKT 10pm at Sotheby’s.