As I’ve mentioned a few times on Malt, The Dalmore is something of a guilty pleasure for me. Guilty because many whisky geeks frown upon the distillery’s practice of adding colour to their whisky (however, these whisky geeks are quick to forget that many other distilleries from Laphroaig to Aberlour do exactly the same). They probably chill-filter the hell out of it too, which is to prevent cloudiness in certain temperatures – this causes far more problems for a brand than the perception of filtration in the first place. However, it’s still a great pleasure because there’s a texture from this distillery that is a class above many others, and I do like a well-textured, velvety, tasty whisky.
Located on the shores of the Cromarty Firth in the Highlands, The Dalmore is one of Scotland’s more vibrant distilleries. Over the past few years there has been a big effort in revitalising its image and brand, and this effort has certainly paid off. Now, more often than not, whisky geeks are flipping up tables because they can’t afford the staggering super-premium releases that The Dalmore regularly puts out there. (You can kind of understand the sentiment, too, but I don’t kick off because I can’t afford a Ferrari.)
The Dalmore Valour is a little more affordable. It’s a thrice matured whisky, a combination of first fill ex-bourbon casks, oloroso butts and port pipes, before being bottled at 40% ABV. It was originally a travel retail exclusive.
Colour: dark amber, heather honey. On the nose: quite a harsh, citric fruitiness. Orange marmalade. Grapefruit. A buttery maltiness hides just beneath the surface, but it’s there nonetheless. Caramel and milk chocolate. Almost something of a playful, candy quality that comes and goes. Then back to blood oranges and port.
In the mouth: a little two-dimensional, but those two dimensions are very well done. Very juicy, thick, plum jam quality. Stewed fruits, summer pudding served with vanilla custard. Nice chewy mouthfeel. An unusual, almost dusty, dry barley note, that makes me think I’m licking a barn door or malting room floor. It’s almost an umami flavour, but doesn’t quite go there. A curious interplay between the bitter maltiness and the stewed fruits that doesn’t wholly do it for me when I try to pick it apart even further. But that said, this is easy-drinking whisky. Don’t think about it too much and you have a great everyday drinker.
The Dalmore Valour costs about £60 – don’t forget, that’s for a litre. There’s a place for this in every whisky geek’s cabinet, and being light on the ABV it means you can drink twice as much. Responsibly, of course.