Dailuaine 14yo 1997/2012 (46%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, Hogshead #6012, 372 bottles)

After the excellent Dailuaine by Gordon & MacPhail why not try another one. This time one by dutch Indie bottlers The Ultimate. Gordon & MacPhail are known for controlling the whole process from acquiring the cask, storing the filled cask, right untill bottling of the Whisky. With this they hope to achieve the highest quality possible. The Ultimate have a slightly different approach, a very Dutch one.

Dailuaine 14yo 1997/2012 (46%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, Hogshead #6012, 372 bottles)

First of all the final product cannot cost too much, having said that, they really try to get the highest quality they can get. No money is spent on designing a fancy label, nor on a fancy glass bottle.  A long time ago a picture of Bushmills distillery was found and placed on the label and never again was money spent on design. (By the way, Bushmills was never bottled in this series). If you want your bottle in a (simple, white) box, you’ll have to pay extra. The only money spent is on buying good Whisky. The Van Wees company has many contacts in Scotland dating back to the sixties. Most, if not all, of the recent casks are bought from Andrew Symington (Signatory Vintage). Just have a look at the casks from 1997. The Ultimate bottled #6012 and #6017, Signatory bottled #6015, #6016, #6018 and #6020. The Ultimate bottled #4229 and #4234. Signatory bottled #4228, #4230, #4231, #4232 and #4233.

Color: Light Gold

Nose: Fruity and buttery. Quite a strong aroma. Nice spicy and grassy wood. Just like it’s brother from Gordon & MacPhail, a nice sweet vanilla note. Eggnog. Lots of influence from the wood, without overpowering the distillate. Nice sappy oak and also a little bit of cardboard. With some air a more dry and powdery turn. A lot less apple, but still there. Somehow the alcohol is more upfront.

Taste: Sweeter than I imagined. Again a pretty nice aroma. Vanilla with candied apples and even some raspberry. Excellent stuff. A paper note, but also hints of burnt sugar mixes in with the toasted oak. Very nice and drinkable, with a sweet and warming, and dare I say, hoppy finish. The Whisky is pretty straightforward and nicely un-complex.

Dailuaine is a pretty nice distillate, will have to keep this one in mind and investigate further.

Points: 85

Dailuaine 14yo 1995/2010 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Refill Sherry Hogsheads, AJ/AAFI)

Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection UltraUnlike Benrinnes, Dailuaine has been featured a few times already on Master Quill, the last one just a month ago, so it doesn’t need a big introduction, nor does Gordon & MacPhail, the big Scottish independent bottler with an even bigger reputation doing things yet even bigger. We all know Gordon & MacPhail have a lot of series like the Distillery Labels, Connoisseurs Choice, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve and Private Collection, to name but a view. Now there is even a bigger choice with four new, very old, Whiskies in the Private Collection Ultra.

Hey, what’s in a name! I was fortunate enough to have been able to try, three of the four, recently: The 61yo Linkwood (88 Points), the 62yo Glenlivet (89 Points), the 57yo Strathisla (88 Points) and finally there is also a 63yo Mortlach. Well these four are obviously very expensive and extremely rare. For us “normal” people who can’t afford those Ultra’s, here we’ll be reviewing a hopefully very good Dailuaine, one of my favorite amongst the rather unknown distilleries…

Dailuaine 14yo 1995/2010 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Refill Sherry Hogsheads, AJ/AAFI)Color: Gold

Nose: Floral and spicy. Dusty and spicy wood. Try to imagine the cask from the outside. Hints of mint. Icing Sugar and even some dried tall grass. Malt and honey. Quite some vanilla. After the Benrinnes I reviewed last here we have another refill Sherry cask that impairs a lot of vanilla to the Whisky. Sometimes it smells a bit like a rum with oranges. More fruit with apple skins. Apple pie, yes also cookie dough and with that the spice wood note. Acidic cinnamon. Very good!

Taste: Sweet. Apples, Apple skin, warm apple sauce. Spicy wood. Extremely nice. Well balanced stuff this is. Nutty wood. Nice hint of sweetness that complements the full aroma. I really like this one. I thought the Benrinnes was good, but this is even a little bit better. Spicy wood. Hints of nutmeg and plain oak. Sugared apple. Caramel. Sweet woody caramel and a tiny hint of bitter wood (sap). Not a very long finish, but very tasty. The finish resembles the body. Well made and very tasty stuff.

There you have it. A young and reduced Dailuaine, which when looking at scores is almost as good as the new Ultra’s. This is a new kid on the block, a teenager, and doesn’t have the experience and sophistication of the old Ultra’s. Although the price difference is staggering, there is something to say for both. (If you have the cash).

Points: 86

Dailuaine 1999/2012 (59.3%, The House of MacDuff, The Golden Cask, Cask #CM172, 270 bottles)

Almost another year has passed since reviewing my last Dailuaine, bottled by Jürgen a.k.a. The Whisky Mercenary. This time a younger version, distilled in 1999, with a fairly light color, so probably not a very active cask.

Dailuaine 199920/12 (59.3%, The House of MacDuff, The Golden Cask, Cask #CM172, 270 bottles)Jürgen’s version was quite strong and with a cask picked by John McDougall I again have some high hopes for this Dailuaine. Let’s see if this light Dailuaine packs some punch, and does it also have some cannabis I picked up in several other Dailuaines?

Color: Light citrussy gold.

Nose: Vegetal, fern and high on malt. High alcohol too, sweet. Thin honey, toffee and hard caramel. Pretty anonymous. This cask didn’t do a lot for the spirit. One use too many I guess. Tine hint of soapy foam. A very “green” Malt, and actually not very interesting. Dull.

Taste: Malty and powdery and yes, some wood. Pretty powerful and sweet. Rustic. A Malt from the country so to speak. Lots of marzipan and very fresh and likeable. Strangely enough there is a citrussy soury note that only shows itself in the finish. I know it s the oil from orange skins! Although likeable, something is not quite right here. (The strange soury note?).

Typical high strength Whisky where the cask didn’t impair a lot, or so it seems. There maybe something wrong with this one, but nothing to worry about too much, yet this one doesn’t speak to me. Good enough for bottling it is as single cask, but personally I wouldn’t have. Tasted blind I would have thought this was a Cadenheads bottling, since they have released lots of Whiskies like this in the recent past, but they bottle a lot. The House of MacDuff bottle considerably less, so you could expect only nice picks in their range. If so, why was this one picked? Probably for its malty sweetness I guess (or the orange?). No cannabis this time though.

Points: 81

Dailuaine 21yo 1992/2013 (53.3%, The Whisky Mercenary)

More than a year ago I tasted another Dailuaine. That one was from 1980 and bottled by Hart Brothers long before this example bottled by Jürgen. Although the Hart Brothers version was a bit anonymous, I remember it for having cannabis (yes, I spent a lot of my time in Amsterd(r)am, so no hiding the smell of cannabis from me. Bugger, now Dailuaine will be banned from many countries. Sorry for that. Let’s see what Jürgen selected and maybe we’ll find some cannabis in this too…

Dailuaine 21yoColor: Light gold.

Nose: Spicy, lemony and sweet apple skin. Dare I say banana? Clean ánd dusty (I’m not talking about cleaning the house). Small hints of old and new wood and some old rose soap. Hints of a damp cellar and wet earth. Woody cinnamon. Sounds very interesting already, don’t you think? The nose grows over time en becomes bolder and finishes of with some menthol (and elegant rose soap, a smell from the past, have you been at your granny’s lately?). Most definitely needs some air. Probably from a Bourbon hoggie.

Taste: Spicy and sweet. Cannabis (yes!) and burning off some cedar. A indiscernible hidden sweetness. Lots of vanilla that stays untill the hot finish. The body is made up from cannabis that comes from the wood, other woody notes like vanilla and wood spice. Add to that a lemony acidity that is playing around with the vanilla sweetness. The body is quite full, round and bold, but the finish isn’t as long as you would expect. In this case the Whisky is quite special and the finish being not as long as expected, you can’t wait to take another sip or another dram. No, it’s not perfect (but what is?). The initial taste and the body are great and in that is has a turning point. There is a second turning point when the bold body moves into the finish. That spot isn’t quite balanced, and the finish is “only” half-long. Does that mean I don’t like this? Hell no! The finish could have been longer and the nose could have been even more special, but the taste and the body…wow. I like this very much!

Well this is an experience. The nose is all right, typical clean Bourbon nose if you ask me. The fun is in the taste of this Whisky. Very bold. An exercise in good wood notes and has some hot spots. Not a Whisky for playing cards, but it will be a bottle in your collection that you would prefer, so it’ll be finished soon. I didn’t expect this one to be so good actually. ABV is low 50’s and that fits the Whisky excellently. Nice pick Jürgen!

Points: 88

Dailuaine 17yo 1980/1997 (43%, Hart Brothers, Sherry)

Dailuaine is a distillery that also is around for a long time. Founded in 1852 and rebuilt into a big distillery, for the time, in 1884. Just five years later Dailuaine became a landmark since it got Scotland’s first Pagoda roof, from Charles Doig. Also noteworthy is the fact that Dailuaine and Talisker distilleries merged in 1898. Again the year of the Pattison Crash. Mind you, Dailuaine and Talisker aren’t exactly across the street from one another.

Again we have here a distillery with a fire. But this fire forced the distillery to close for three years! This happened between 1917 and 1920. After that, like with many others, the years of expansion. Today Dailuaine is in the portfolio of Diageo and mainly used for the Johnnie walker blends.

Color: Light Gold.

Nose: Musty, vaguely sherried and sweet. Rather thin. Floral and perfumy, which do not necessarily go together. The nose is quite elegant. Vanilla. Nice clean sour oak. Barley and apple compote. Given some time, the floral part is overshadowed by the sour oak. Otherwise quite nice and good balance.

Taste: Well I got cannabis in there again! Typical sweet and sourness from applesauce. Honey. Very clean otherwise. The woodyness doesn’t need a lot of time to rear its head, pencil shavings. This isn’t bad. Without it, its character would be even less interesting. Still this has a lot of body. The sourness of the oak, dominates this finish. Reduction is ok on the palate, but makes the finish a bit weak and short.

A bit anonymous this one. Taking this blind it could have been anything.

Points: 85

Thanks go out to Serge for handing me this sample a long time ago.