Ah, Dalmore. The world’s most “revered” single malt. Now that’s a pretty bold claim. I remember seeing so many Dalmore adverts over the years, in magazines. It tends to be viewed as one of those big, classy brands of single malt whisky. You find it in hotels across the world, and on 19th holes. Established in 1839, Dalmore distillery can be found just north of Inverness, in the Highlands, and it’s owned ultimately by United Breweries Group – an Indian giant. Its bottles have a very classy design. Everything about the brand oozes prestige, and aspiration – and some of their prices are… well, let’s just say they reflect such aspiration. But is it all a case of style over substance?
The Dalmore 15 Year Old has spent “Twelve years maturing in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, then a three year finish in three different sherry woods – Amoroso, Apostoles and Matusalem oloroso.” That sounds promising – I’m a fan of different finishes, which have worked wonders for some of Bruichladdich’s releases, so I’m excited about this. Let’s get onto the tasting:
Colour: at one angle, this looked not unlike a rose wine, but held up to a bright light you can see it’s a deep amber, burnt orange even. Rather unusual and subtle tones. On the nose: sherry indeed; butterscotch, caramel and orange marmalade. Very attractive.
In the mouth: now, that balance is utterly incredible. It’s very silky, practically slipping all over your tongue like jelly and ice cream – yet it isn’t at all oily, or even that thick. It’s got a wonderful weight. Sultanas, dates perhaps, gentle warming winter spices, a very distant earthy, vegetative note. Cocoa. Interestingly, there’s little of the peppery slap here, which I occasionally find on whiskies of this profile. All in all, this allows for those more deep and subtle flavours to linger on the finish. Despite the different sherry casks used on the finish, there didn’t seem to be all that much more going on in terms of sweetness. Not that it seems to matter, purely because of that beautiful texture in the mouth – it’s like sinking into a bubble bath.
The Dalmore 15 Year Old is mellow, graceful and delightful – it’s got the substance to match the style. But I got the impression that there was a dram of tremendous beauty just waiting to break out. Maybe if there was no chill-filtration or colouring involved, which seems to be a direction many distilleries are now taking, then we’d really break out the hyperbole.
Bottled at 40%, expect to pay around £50 for this.