Whisky Magazine Issue 121
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Often used but not worn out – meet some famous antlers in this new episode on old and interesting whisky labels
Who started this? Was it Glenfiddich? Or Dalmore? Both use a stag's head as the company logo, albeit that Dalmore uses this symbol somewhat more explicitly on its bottles. Taking the foundation date of both distilleries into account The Dalmore (1839) should be credited with being the first, since Glenfiddich only started distilling in 1886. Notwithstanding that fact, I opt for the latter.
I do remember older Dalmore bottlings and even own a miniature on which label not a single stag's head can be seen. The usage of the head and antlers by the distillery at the Cromarty Firth is from a more recent date. The story behind it, however, is too beautiful to ignore. In 1236 one Colin Mackenzie saved the life of Alexander III. The then-Monarch of Scotland had fallen off his horse during the deer hunt and was under serious threat of being killed by a ‘12-pointer', or Royal Stag.
Mackenzie didn't hesitate, threw himself and his spear between king and danger, killing the deer with a mighty stroke. His reward was the Royal Stag in his family crest.
Fast forward. In 1891 Colin's descendants bought Dalmore distillery from founder Matheson. The ancient story of heroism was smartly polished a few years ago by the current brand owner, resulting in a very noticeable bottle carrying a silver 12-pointer affixed to the surface. It is fair to question if one can still call this a label, but hey ho. The design is beautiful and the liquid goods within the bottle are very tasty.
A somewhat ...