Regular readers of Malt will know that I am a fan of The Dalmore. When I am a fan of a distillery, I tend to be quite harsh on its whiskies, simply because I’m excited and expect a lot from it. I am a demanding fan. So you can take it I’m serious when I say the Dalmore King Alexander III is the best Dalmore I’ve tasted – and certainly one of the best whiskies I’ve bought this year.
The Dalmore King Alexander III is marriage of six different whiskies. It’s made up of Dalmore spirit that’s been matured in (wait for it):
1) Ex-bourbon casks – fairly standard for whisky maturation
2) Matusalem Oloroso sherry wood – that’s small-batch, enhanced Oloroso sherry casks
3) Madeira barrels – fortified Portuguese wine casks, and fairly uncommon for whisky maturation
4) Marsala casks – Italian wine casks, and again not that common when it comes to storing whisky
5) Port pipes – you see the odd port finish here and there these days
6) Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques – a famous wine, but not often seen used in whisky maturation
These six differently matured whiskies were then married together by Richard Paterson, High Priest of White & Mackay, to produce a the King Alexander III. There’s no age statement here, but a little Google-fu suggests the youngest is around 14 years.
This whisky was crafted to “honour the act of saving Scotland’s King in 1263” – on a hunting expedition, Alexander III was saved from a fierce stag by the first chieftain of the Clan Mackenzie. The king later later died from falling off his horse anyway – some people just have no luck. The whisky comes in a wonderful presentation box, which is certainly a keeper, and is bottled at 40% ABV.
Colour: auburn, polished mahogany, with a little tint of red. On the nose: for something that’s only 40%, there’s an incredible amount packed in. Late summer fruits, blackberries, glazed cherries, marzipan, praline. Almost a fruit liqueur quality to it. Raspberry jam (on toast). Eton mess.
In the mouth: my knees went a bit weak at this, I must confess. One of the most velvety deliveries I’ve had this year. I barely even noticed it oozing into my mouth, but suddenly there it was. All of those flavours from the nose come though in spades (I like it when you can taste what you smell). This is a thick, plummy, summer fruit bonanza. Then comes autumnal notes: the dried fruits rush through. Prunes and figs, and something chutney-like. There are some spices here, too, like a mulled wine by the fire. Pecan, carrot and ginger cake. Amaretti biscuits. Then a long fruity finish with plenty of warming woody notes. It just keeps on giving.
For people who moan (usually on Twitter or forums) that whiskies need to be stronger than 40% to get lots of flavour: be quiet. Dalmore King Alexander III proves you all objectively wrong. It’s science fact. Just leave this on your tongue for a minute, maybe two or three, and something sublime occurs. Don’t guzzle it – don’t even whirl it quickly around your mouth. Let it be, for a long time, and you will be rewarded greatly. Do that with cask strength whisky and you’d go blind (or rather, your mouth would go numb and you’d not be able to taste anything for the rest of the evening).
The Dalmore King Alexander III is worth every penny (and I can say it, because I put my hand in my pocket to actually buy it as a Christmas treat for myself). This might be the best whisky I’ve bought this year. I’ve seen it online for about £115, but hunt around – especially at auction – and you might get a bargain.
To finish, if you’re interested in Dalmore’s cask maturation, take a look at this clip, which they’ve recently made. It’s a beautiful little video – basically a couple of minutes of whisky p0rn.