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The Dalmore 40 Year Old

Regular readers will know I have a soft spot for The Dalmore. Though some of their whiskies tend to be on the upper-end of ‘premium’, and well outside of the price range of most whisky drinkers, their core whiskies are a delicious business.

Remarkably it’s one of the premium whiskies I’m writing about today. It’s worth dwelling on just what exactly premium means with Dalmore. In 2010 the distillery released Dalmore Trinitas, a trio of whiskies – the first two of which sold for £100,000 each, and the last sold in Harrods for £120,000 a year later. In 2013, The Dalmore released the 12-bottle Paterson Collection, named after Master Distiller Richard Paterson – aka ‘the nose‘, and something of a star of the whisky scene. The Paterson Collection was on sale in Harrods for £987,500.

So in a way, today’s whisky is slumming it. It’s at the bargain end of premium – and yes, I feel like a bit of a tit even typing that phrase. The Dalmore 40 Year Old, also know as ‘The 40’, is only a few grand. Outside of what Karuizawa bottles are fetching at auction these days, it’s probably the most expensive whisky I’ve ever tried.

However, at the time – and I’m glad it was the case – I did not even know what I was tasting, only that this was worth my time. That’s as it was another blind sample provided by m’colleague, Whisky Rover – who himself managed to get his whisky-stained hands on much a larger sample. The Dalmore 40 Year Old has been matured in combination of American white oak, Amoroso and Matusalem sherry casks, and bottled at 40% ABV.

Remember, this was tasted blind, so I’d no idea I was drinking a gazillion-pound whisky.

Dalmore 40 Year OldColour: mahogany, henna. On the nose: that’s a hugely attractive aroma. Complex and always changing. Pencil boxes and ink. Slight hint of cigars, tobacco, maybe coffee and burnt toast. Soy sauce and a lovely sweat and meaty flavour, like a roast ham covered in marmalade. Leave the glass by the side and there’s what seems like just a touch of smoke? Just a whiff.

In the mouth: now that’s beautiful if a little gentle. It isn’t all that strong and some very similar flavours to the nose. Beautiful, silky texture, that delivers some typically old wood notes: pencil boxes, wood shavings, old musty rooms. Chewy, waxy, oily. The balance between that and more sweeter notes is brilliant. A touch of dried apricots. Chinese five spice. Very warming and extremely elegant finish. Something about this makes me think it’s a wine-cask finished whisky…

Yeah, on blind tasting it’s good. It’s really good.

I’ve had a couple of old whiskies of late, but what was particularly interesting about this one was the amount of flavour packed into 40% ABV. It’s not the first Dalmore I’ve had that seems to cram the flavour in either. Seems to me that it’s a fine quality of this distillery that you simply don’t need a high strength spirit to get a tasty whisky.

And I think that speaks volumes about the talent of Richard Paterson.

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