It’s no secret around these parts that I’m a fan of The Dalmore, so I was looking forward to the new Fortuna Meritas Collection – their mostly new travel retail range. I’ve previously reviewed the Dalmore Valour, which forms the start of the Fortuna Meritas Collection, and which was pleasant enough. (The only update to my thoughts back then is only that, as part of this newly launched range, I now know the wood finish, which is American white oak, 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry, and Port pipes.)
The Fortuna Meritas Collection was a little slow in making it to market after the initial news release of the Fortuna Merita (no ‘s’) Collection in 2014, and from what I can gather this appears mostly to be around the presentation and packaging of the whiskies (everything else remains the same). Also, The Dalmore Valour has made it into the same line-up, extending the initial range to four whiskies.
In the press material to accompany the new range, Master Blender Richard Paterson has said: ‘For this collection I looked to our long-standing and unique partnership with Gonzalez Byass as this allowed me to draw from rare, rich and valuable sherry casks. I was able to create a different and unique finish for each whisky, giving each of them a rich and complex flavour, but with their own nuances and individual flair.’
Each of the different whiskies do indeed have some exotic wood finishing involved, and – as tends to be the way with travel retail at the moment – there are no age statements on the bottles. As mentioned, you can read my review of The Dalmore Valour here, but here’s the rest of the range.
The Dalmore Regalis
Wood finish being American white oak and Amoroso sherry. Bottled at 40% ABV, The Dalmore Regalis costs £67 a bottle.
On the nose: very vibrant for 40% ABV. A blast of raisins, sultanas, dates and dried prunes, though not overly rich. It’s balanced by quite a lot of woody aromas, ginger, all spice, with some vanilla showing on the back-end.
In the mouth: again, a lot of potency for the ABV and follows the nose. Yes the dried fruits are there, with a dollop of balsamic vinegar and coffee bitterness. Blackcurrant jam, hedgerow fruits, elderberry. A little tartness, though it isn’t cloying there are a few hints of tannins. Lacks some of the thicker, velvety Dalmore texture that I find so appealing – it’s quite light, quite fragile – but a very pleasant entry point to the new trio.
The Dalmore Luceo
Finished in American white oak and apostoles sherry wood, The Dalmore Luceo is bottled at 40% ABV and costs £75.
On the nose: not quite as vibrant as the Regalis; far more subtle. Quite a nutty, crushed hazelnut aroma: almonds, or marzipan too. A faint touch of tobacco. Leather. Nutmeg.
In the mouth: initial impressions are more about how well-balanced it is. There’s such a gorgeous coffee-and-cake trade-off (funny that I re-read the official tasting notes afterwards and some of the same notes are there). Chicory. Maple syrup. The tartness and richness of a blackberry purée. Simple, subtle, but nice. However, it doesn’t feel as bold as the Regalis, which I prefer over this.
The Dalmore Dominium
American white oak and 30 year old Matusalem sherry wood. Bottled at 43% ABV, The Dalmore Dominium costs £99.
Colour: polished mahogany.
On the nose: damson and chocolate. Treacle sponge. Dried fruits galore: raisins, prunes. Once it calms there’s again a tobacco note. Leather. A fruity coffee. Heather honey. A little bit of sandalwood, maybe even a touch of coconut.
In the mouth: classic Dalmore texture with such a big velvety mouthfeel. Dark chocolate. Cognac. Blackberries. Elderberries. Rich, autumnal sugary berries dominate: damsons or plum jam. Molasses. Blood oranges. A little big of sandalwood and ginger towards the finish – which is long and juicy. Dark sherry notes. You wouldn’t necessarily note that this is a slightly higher ABV than the other two, but the texture and the breadth of flavours (although still within that defined Dalmore profile) makes this far more interesting. It’s very nice, very moreish. Definitely a late Autumn whisky and I’d happily drink this all through the season.
Suffice to say that if you like this sort of thing (and I like this sort of thing) then you’ll be happy with any of these. That said, I’d recommend going up £25 or so and getting more expensive The Dalmore Dominium. Is £99 too much for an everyday dram? Probably. All I’m saying is that Dalmore Dominium is the kind of delicious thing that I’d enjoy sipping far too much for it to be a once a month dram.
My only minor quibble would be that I’d like to see more variation in expressions of the Dalmore, but perhaps that’s not the point of distillery bottlings. Maybe that is the domain of the independent bottler, after all. How far can a defined house style be stretched? It must be a challenge for master blenders like Richard Paterson, who want to create different expressions yet maintain that important status quo, sticking within the taste equivalent of brand guidelines. Anyway, in the newer Fortuna Meritas Collection releases we have two decent whiskies in The Dalmore Regalis and Luceo, and one excellent whisky in The Dalmore Dominium.
Note: samples were sent to me by Whyte & Mackay. Images stolen shamelessly from The Dalmore Facebook page.
So both the Dalmore 18 and Dominium have the same casks used in maturation except the 18 is cheaper an has an age statement. Seems like an obvious choice to get the 18 instead seeing as with the Dominium you don’t even get a 1L bottle.
Any opinions on the 18 vs Dominium taste wise?
That’s a good question, Conor – I’ve seen the Dominium actually online for less (Master of Malt currently has it pretty cheap). The 18 is a good whisky. Same ABV. It’d be interesting to do a head-to-head – I recall when trying this that it certainly put me in mind of the 18…