When 2020 arrived, it seems to be the tradition to come up with a theme or to-do list. This time around, I thought I’d be greedy and pick something that interested me and you (dear reader) would just have to suck it up and follow suit. With this in mind, I decided upon a year of Dailuaine and in this article, you’ll follow my exploits over 12 months.

As I type this introduction in January, what lies ahead is a mystery. The whiskies might come from a variety of sources and my own purchases. From my travels, friends or total strangers. A celebration of this overlooked Speyside distillery that offers a touch of class and waxiness to those that truly appreciate it. So, using the lead image of the first whisky, let us begin.

In fact, January turned into a month of vatted Dailuaine’s giving us a more composite of the distillery. Sometimes this mix can amplify core distillery characteristics, or it can seek to fuse something out of a set of benign casks. After all, as Mark keeps saying, there’s a lot of knackered wood in Scotch and whiskey. But then Mark tends to trigger the marriage hearing filter anyway.

February, took me not to the Old & Rare Show in London, but rather to Speyside and the Highlander Inn. Yes, a mighty impressive selection from Scotland and Japan: it was their own bottling of Dailuaine that offered value and satisfaction. Complete with a funky label and the knowledge that I’ll never be able to purchase a bottle of it.

March brought the opportunity of volunteering for the Fife Whisky Festival and the presence of just one Dailuaine – a sad but common fact across many festivals I’m sure. Feast your eyes on the foreboding colour from the hand of Adelphi and a clutch of very active sherry casks. Apparently introduced by the indie bottler due to the original casks being a bit ‘knackered’ and the end result is a Batch 3 entry in their Laudale range. A potential beastie and something very different to what I expect the remainder of the year will offer.

April gave us a different SMWS offering and then COVID-19 really struck and all the best-laid plans fell apart. This article remained stuck in drafts, gathering dust. It wasn’t until the rays of summertime and a flash sale prompted a return to all things Dailuaine – even if the Boutique-y release could really do with giving us more details in a post-Waterford world. Then, August delivered a PX finish as part of a larger outturn article before… oh you know what kicked in again.

January

Cadenhead’s Dailuaine-Glenlivet 2008 – review

Bottled in 2019 at 10 years of age. A vatting of 3 bourbon hogsheads produced 786 bottles at 59.8% strength.

Color: a faded light tan.

On the nose: pine nuts, limes, sliced apples, icing sugar, pear drops and a little marzipan. Beeswax, worn vanilla and wood chips. White pepper, white chocolate and grapefruit.

In the mouth: easy sipping at cask strength and a sense of greenness. Melon, grapefruit, green apples and a little smoke. Almonds, juicy pears and a touch of candle wax on the finish. Coconut flakes and meringues.

Score: 6/10

Signatory Dailuaine 1998 – review

Distilled on 27th August 2019, then bottled on 23rd April at 20 years of age. A vatting of 2 bourbon hogsheads (11370 and 11371) produced 473 bottles at 53.6% strength.

Color: gold leaf.

On the nose: caramel popcorn, orange peel, sunflower oil and honeycomb. Buttery, a subtle candle wax with rose water, lemons, some peaches and sweet smoke.

In the mouth: spikey initially, almonds, cashews and tablet. Some fruits with a sweet dynamic as pineapple cubes, lemon sherbet sweeties, caramel and a little wax on the finish. More melted butter and orange elements as well.

Score: 6/10

February

Maggie’s Collection Dailuaine 2008 – review

Bottled in 2019 at 10 years of age, cask #13022 with an outturn of 306 bottles and 55.8% strength. A single cask selection for the Highlander Inn, exclusively bottled for Japan, celebrating the opening the Highlander Inn Nihonbash and Chichibu.

Color: honey.

On the nose: sunflower oil, apples, caramel, vanilla and apricots. A lovely balance. Flapjacks, tablet and sponge cake. Water unlocks honey, a mild cheese and custard.

In the mouth: waxy, more apricots and lemon. Some matchsticks and popcorn. It can take water but I enjoyed the simplicity with plenty of cereals, vanilla and touches of fruit.

Score: 6/10

Laudale Dailuaine 12 year old – review

Distilled in 2007 and bottled at 12 years of age. This bourbon vatting was moved into very active sherry casks for the remainder of its maturation. Bottled at a reduced 46%, the colour alone will sell it.

Colour: Cola.

On the nose: fudge, fruit loaf with orange pips, cloves, cinnamon bark and aniseed. Walnuts, black pepper and a refreshing layer of zest towards the end. A touch of rubber, figs, aniseed, beef stock, shoe polish and blackcurrant jam. Water reveals chocolate mint and red liquorice.

In the mouth: juicy red apples, lots of chocolate and cranberries. Aniseed, roasted coffee beans, treacle and faded cinnamon bark. Chewy in parts with a little waxiness, orange zest and honey. Cloves, black pepper, raisins, tobacco and smoke on the finish. Water showcases gentle fruits and more wax.

Score: 7/10

April

SMWS 41.127 Mind that big ginger fae’ Moffat! – review

Distilled on 14th July 2006 and bottled at 13 years of age. Bottled at 58.9% strength, this originally spent 12 years in an oloroso sherry butt before being finished for a year (less than their self-proclaimed preferred 2-year duration of finish) in a heavily charred new oak puncheon. The outturn of 557 bottles is available for £55.80 each.

Colour: golden syrup.

On the nose: a seasonal vibe with a hot cross bun, cranberries, almond, ginger of course, toffee and coconut. Actually coconut snowballs or toasted marshmallows. A fleeting whiff of lavender, candy, vanilla, tangerine and a jammy quality as well. Water reveals orange juice, hickory wood chips and more water unlocks lemon and grapefruit.

In the mouth: quite fiery and water is on the agenda. Woody, a vanilla toffee, redberries, hazelnuts, syrup and brown toast. It can take a chunk of water to remove the hotness with caramel coming through, adding more water brings out a woody drying quality.

Score: 5/10

July

That Boutique-y Whisky Company Dailuaine 15yo – review

A batch 2 release providing 950 bottles at a normal retail price of £54.95, but I picked this up in a flash sale for £39.95, which promptly sold out. Bottled at 47.5% strength.

Colour: lemon juice.

On the nose: buttery, green apples, lemons and shortbread. A very clean appearance with a touch of orange, almonds and a dusting of flour. Grape juice, almost grapefruit and limes. Water wheels out more apples and icing sugar.

In the mouth: a lovely waxy, juicy texture. So much better than the nose. Apples, cinnamon and waxed lemons are expected, but the level of tropical with pineapples and coconut elevate this further. Adding water develops more coconut, but also brings out some wood bitterness and the texture evaporates.

Score: 7/10

August

Lady of the Glen Dailuaine 2008 – review

This 12 year old resided in a bourbon hogshead #300471, with a 1st fill PX Finish (Cask #19A), providing 270 bottles, at a robust 56.3% and with an asking price of £88.95 from Gauntleys..

Colour: dulled gold.

On the nose: first up is tomato vines then fudge and rubbed brass. Apricot and honeycomb follow with a diluted orange sanded wood, lemon oil and time reveals a pleasing vanilla custard.

In the mouth: peppery with more apricots, raisins and other dried fruit. There is a PX effect but it isn’t as aggressive or dominant as we’ve seen deployed by Glenallachie of late. Cigar smoke, tobacco with chocolate and a relaxed finish.

Score: 6/10

October

Thompson Bros Dailuaine 1989 – review

This was bottled at 31 years of age with 117 bottles being produced at 48% strength. It’s sold out directly but might be available at other retailers.

Colour: a rich toffee.

On the nose: a waxy maple syrup, there’s a real marriage of the cask and the Dailuaine waxiness, a touch of ginger, Weetabix giving us the cereal aspect, tarragon and honey. Malty it must be said with orange zest, milk chocolate and precision balance coated with that tin layer of wax.

In the mouth: a dark sweet delight with fudge, nougat, chocolate hazelnuts, honey and a layer of cream. An earthy twist midway through with a touch of smoke lingering throughout.

Score: 8/10

December

Cadenhead’s Dailuaine-Glenlivet 2004 – review

Bottled at 15 years of age and 54.7% strength. This resided in a ex-bourbon hogshead before being bottled in late 2020.

Colour: lemon juice.

On the nose: coconut and green apples with silky vanilla, grapefruit and lime cordial. Cheap white chocolate, fresh mint leaf and jelly sweets. Adding water unlocks a chalky mineral characteristic and candle wax.

In the mouth: creamy and zesty but also that tropical greenness. This one needs a bit more time. Some lovely oils here with grapefruit and Kiwi Fruit and lime jelly. Adding water turns this into a cloudy and fruit sugar delight, with desiccated coconut, saline and a waxy nature. This metamorphosis ups the score by 1.

Score: 7/10

Conclusions

So, a year in the life of…

I hope you’ve enjoyed the trek over these past 12 months. Our plans for this year have been ruined by COVID-19 and this applies to the article. I had actually hoped to try more expressions initially, but we’ve have assembled enough bottles from a variety of bottlers.

It seems fitting to begin and end with bottlings from Cadenhead’s; who do regularly bottle Dailuaine, as do other sources such as the SMWS. There are plenty of examples out there in the marketplace as a whole with Watt Whisky also releasing a cask in December, which I also reviewed.

Dailuaine isn’t what I’d call an immediately enjoyable whisky. The most approachable above is the Boutique-y release. Others need a patient approach and often a splash of water. It can be a green malt on the first inspection. Give your bottle time and you’ll be in a for a perplexing and challenging journey. I’ve not managed to get around to much of my own whisky journey thanks to the demands of Malt, but for 2021, I’m going to try and do more of what interests me when it comes to all things whisk(e)y related.

Whatever you’re having for today, please enjoy and let’s look ahead with some hope.

Signatory 1998 and the Adelphi Laudale images kindly provided by The Whisky Exchange. The Lady of the Glen photograph comes via Tyndrum Whisky.

CategoriesSingle Malt
  1. Avatar
    Dan W says:

    Interesting review Jason. I like the idea of exploring a lesser known malt in full over a year.

    I’ve not tried Dailuiane. I’d always got the impression that it was a fairly light summery malt, which is a style I’m not a big fan of so I’ve avoided it. Your reviews make it sound like it has a lot more substance and complexity than I thought. Think I’ll try and get hold of a bottle in 2021.

    Happy new year to you.

  2. Avatar

    Lovely article and sounds like some great drams. Jason if you could choose a mix of age + oak to enjoy the perfect Dailuaine character what would you think the secret sauce would be?

    1. Jason
      Jason says:

      Ha, I’d go for ex-bourbon and a later teenager.
      But watch out for Dailuaine in a decade or so. Substituting Clynelish when it was being refurbished, they maxed out the waxiness. I’d like to try casks from that period when they appear.

      Cheers, Jason.

  3. Avatar
    Tony says:

    “…for 2021, I’m going to try and do more of what interests me…”

    Bravo!! Please do; as we’ll enjoy the reviews either way. Start doing too much of what other people may want to see and you risk burnout. Keep it fresh for your benefit.

    Personally, in 2021 I’ll be experimenting more with adding water, as one of your more recent reviews served as the springboard.

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