The Dalmore Tay Dram – The Rivers Collection 2012

Never pop into a whisky shop to just browse. It’s fine in theory, but if you’re anything like me, browsing isn’t good enough. You just have to buy a bottle and sneak it home. Which is how I came into possession of The Dalmore Tay Dram – from the 2012 Rivers Collection.

I’d tried a previous incarnation of The Tweed Dram, which was pretty solid, though wasn’t quite firing on all cylinders. I’ve also wanted to explore The Dalmore’s range just a little more. There’s something about them I just like. In whisky circles there’s a touch of snobbery that comes up whenever their name is mentioned. That’s maybe as in the past they’ve been known to add a little colouring, as many have done, and it isn’t all that strong enough for those who love their stronger whiskies. But that doesn’t necessarily bother me.

The Dalmore Tay Dram has been matured in bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks, and bottled at 40% ABV. A bottle will set you back £42 and, as with all the Rivers Collection drams, a few quid from every bottle goes towards conservation efforts for four Scottish rivers.

Colour: It’s a solid teak sideboard of a dram. On the nose: ooh now that’s a tickler, and no doubt. There’s plenty of interesting stuff going on here, but you’re kept at arm’s length for a while. Blood orange, marmalade, a wisp of mint even.

In the mouth: god that texture is good. Whatever do they do to their whisky to make it so velvety? I can think of only Bruichladdich who achieve this sort of chewy, silky, eyebrow-quivering sexiness. Plum. Summer pudding. Thick clotted cream. Bitter chocolate – we’re not talking Cadbury here, but Hotel Chocolat 90% stuff, though it’s masked by the Oloroso sherry action. There’s a pleasant, warming edge, but you still don’t quite get over that beautiful texture. In the distance there’s a distinct aniseed and Pernod note, which is pretty pleasing.

It’s very understated. Delicious, but understated. I can see this being an everyday dram on my shelf – a go-to drink, especially in the warmer months. This is also something I’d hand to those new to whisky, to want a little proof that it won’t turn their mouths into an ashen landscape.

You can’t help but wonder just how amazing this stuff would be if they ramped up the ABV; not that I mind, ultimately, as sometimes it’s good to have a lighter dram. £42 well spent, if you ask me.


I've written about (and reviewed) whisky for Whisky Magazine, among other publications, and have been a whisky judge for competitions including the World Whiskies Awards. I've done other writing too: several mass market genre novels, a few short stories, including for BBC Radio 4. For my day job (I know, I don't get out much) I work in digital content. Follow me on Instagram.com/maltreview/ or Twitter.com/MaltReview. Generally, my tastes lean towards ex-sherry cask and ex-wine cask influences on the spirit, but I'm not so fussed as long as the whisky's gone into good wood.

  1. raithrover
    raithrover says:

    Enjoyable bottle for sure. Great distillery to visit as well; very lavish in a tranquil setting. Just wish they’d bottle at a higher strength and show what they are truly capable of.

    1. Mark @ Malt
      Mark @ Malt says:

      I’ve never been to their distillery – though I have looked it up. Looks quite far away doesn’t it? Definitely one worth a pilgrimage though.

      I know what you mean about the strength. It seems to be one of their only criticisms. The 18 Year Old is 43%, and some of the limited edition releases are a bit higher still, but you do wonder why they don’t give way to what the people want!

  2. Pingback:Dalmore 18 Year Old | Malt

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