Dalmore is one of those Highland distilleries that you count on for a familiar flavour profile with a good dose of sherry.
A couple years ago the Whisky Ladies enjoyed the Dalmore standard 15 year… and at Whisky Live in Singapore, I had full plans to come back and spend time at their booth however somehow only managed to check out the 18 year in passing… The last Dalmore properly sampled was the slightly pricey King Alexander III which was a bit of a let down.
Beyond these, I’ve had a few quite enjoyable Dalmore’s over the years and had high expectations of this one… So what did we discover with this single cask edition bottled by the folks over at Master of Malt?
Dalmore 14 Year Old 2003 57.8%
Nose – Lots of toffee, caramel, bannofee cream pie, it settled down quickly, shifting into something a bit sour, peach pits and cherry
Palate – Warm sweet spices, wood, dry, sits on the surface
Finish – Long finish, tingling and a bit tart
Water – Sour cherries, some spice but flat – honestly water did not do the malt any favour
I’m not sure if it was my anticipation of something “good” or how the Dalmore followed the Rye but I must admit, I found it a bit disappointing. It wasn’t bad, it just simply wasn’t exceptional. And that’s just the way it goes sometimes.
Here is what the chaps over at Master of Malt have to say :
It’s been a bit of a while since we independently bottled some Dalmore single malt, so we decided to fix that by bottling up a stunning 14 year old from the distillery as part of our Single Cask Series. This one was distilled in April 2003 and left to age in a bourbon cask until March 2018, when it was bottled at cask strength.
Nose: Sultana, dusty oak and new leather, hints of fresh pear drenched in honey.
Palate: Hugely chocolatey, though pear notes still shine through. A hint of hoppy bitterness.
What do we know about this Dalmore? That it was matured in not one or two casks but seven! Aside from the standard ex-bourbon (Kentucky) and Sherry, it also spent time in wine (unspecified), Madeira, Marsala and Port casks. The goal was to produce a unique rich, fruity Highland single malt.
However we knew none of this when we sampled it… blind…
Dalmore King Alexander III 40%
Colour – Deep dark burgundy
Nose – Dark fruits, cherries, nuts, cheap chocolate bar with nuts and raisins, curdled milk, liquorice, an oddly artificial aroma
Palate – A light teasing spice, a bit of mango pickle?
Finish – Lingers – a bit bitter then gets spicier with a fruity close… yet still a medium finish that runs away
The colour was a dead give away that something else was going on… which we later discovered with the reveal is augmented with caramel. Hmm…
Overall it was a bit disappointing nothing exceptional and there were a few odd elements that didn’t quite work.
Our host shared he received this whisky as a gift. There was no doubt the person gifting had the absolute best of intentions. And it certainly isn’t cheap – typically retailing for approx $200.
However in our humble opinion, there was more hype and high price than quality. Which is a pity.
Nose – Fruity, yoghurt, an agave-like quality, raw, barley mash, spice, light cream, caramel, baby puke, yeasty, honey sweet
Palate – Spice burn, a few remarked “tastes better than it smells”, quite peppery with more alcohol ‘beastie’ than timidity
Finish – Sharp, short, bitter
There was a mixed reaction to this one. The agave like aroma was akin to the “morning after an overindulgence of tequila”… Another found this was “something to be used for cleaning like solvent.” Yet another quipped “The rat is there on the label for a reason!”
While not horrifically bad, it was a bit like having peppery tequila.
Douglas Laing’s Timorous Beastie, immortalised in Robert Burns’ famous Scots poem “To a Mouse”, was a timid, little field mouse. Echoing our national bard’s wit, ours is most certainly not for the fainthearted! This non coloured, non-chill-filtered Small Batch bottling is a marriage of appropriately aged and selected Highland Malts – including, amongst others, those distilled at Glen Garioch, Dalmore and Glengoyne distilleries.
Nose – Overridingly sweet on the nose, then warming to floral, light barley & spicy honeyed tones.
Palate – The palate opens in a spicy style – fructiferous, mellow, with sugary vanilla.
Finish – The finish is at first subtle, but runs to a sweet character that carries an oaky quality plus a late meringue style.
At Whisky Live Singapore, Dalmore was one distillery I fully intended to come back and spend a bit more time with… So when I first waltzed past, I had no intention of stopping as planned to return in earnest later.
Except I simply could not resist a nip of the 18 year… who could?
Nose – Ooh sherry! Raisins, figs, plum cake, caramel, coconut, fruity like sweet oranges, burst of prunes… With those sweet spices of cinnamon… Did we say sherry? Please let’s say it yet again!
Taste – Very even, smooth and sweet, raisins, spicy coconut, a quality like Amarula, a bit syrupy, faintest puff of smoke
Finish – Nice linger, warm spice, all Christmasy nice!
With water? Please don’t. Not needed at all. But if you do, just a few drops brings out the oaky element quite strongly
Overall it was greeted with happy moans of pleasure and comments like :
“It is like nector!”
“I’ve found my ‘happy’ spot!”
In short, it was a perfect way to kick-off the evening. Hit all the ‘tick’ boxes for a warm, comfy, sherry dram… certainly going an several notches above merely being ‘pleasant’.
Such a whisky begs to be the start of a relaxed evening, curled up at home, nibbling on cheese and crackers while listening to good music, perhaps with friends or perhaps alone.
What do the distillery folks have to say about their whisky?
This delicate and approachable vintage is initially matured for 12 years in American white oak ex-bourbon casks. The character of The Dalmore 15 is achieved by then splitting the whisky equally between three different sherry woods; Amoroso, Apostoles and Matusalem oloroso for a further three years. The spirit is finally married together in an upstanding sherry butt, allowing the flavours to infuse.