Even a chef admired the world over can discover new talents. In the midst of a landmark year, Chef Daniel Boulud discusses the 20th anniversary of New York’s iconic restaurant Daniel, the renovation and reopening this month of Midtown’s elegant French-American bistro—db bistro moderne, next month’s release of his new cookbook—Daniel: My French Cuisine, and his unique partnership with The Dalmore Distillery, which resulted in the first bespoke Single Malt Scotch Whisky created in collaboration with a Michelin-starred chef. Creating a signature whisky was a new and exciting experience for Chef Boulud, and the whisky—aptly named The Dalmore selected by Daniel Boulud—perfectly complements his cuisine.
What inspired your decision to create an exclusive Dalmore whisky for your restaurants?
I had explored doing a vodka at one point, but with a vodka there is no combination of recipes, there is no creation of flavors. For me, it was about being part of creating a whisky that was tinted by different flavors based on the wood it had been saving in. This was unique because it was about personal taste—and this was also learning about something that I had never done. I felt very excited about creating the whisky, and Dalmore was fabulous because it is such a reputable house.
Dalmore has a reputation for a unique distillation process and maturation of whisky in bespoke oak casks. In select instances, as with your whisky, they also finesse the whisky in wood barrels from renowned wineries.
Yes, they get barrels from wineries all over the world and that’s very interesting. We started with maybe 30 different samples of whisky that were single cast, meaning some were [aged] with Muscatel, some with Madeira, with Port wines, some with Cabernet, with Chardonnay. The effect of the wood in the alcohol creates very unique smells, unique tastes, and unique colors—so I was really taken by that. First we tasted them all, and Richard Paterson, who is Dalmore’s master distiller—we tasted together and we pulled 12 to 14 samples and narrowed down to create the whisky at that point. We chose whisky aged in Muscatel barrels, Madeira, and Port wine—those three were the most refined, with great characteristics of a whisky that was not too smoky but has a sweet smell, and a little bit of an aged finish to it.