Dalmore 2001/2015 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Refill American Hogsheads, AE/JBAC, 05/03/2015)

So here’s Dalmore. Dalmore isn’t a Whisky I have many bottles of, if any. It was also a long time ago Dalmore’s were featured on these pages. This is now the third review, after the two reviews I did back in 2014. Obviously one from the distillery itself, the 12yo from around 2004 (so also a while back) and one 11yo independent offering from Kintra Whisky from The Netherlands. Both a bit under my radar to be honest, not spurring a lot of interest in buying more Dalmore’s, (which I didn’t). Dalmore also seems known for some affordable middle-of-the-road bottles, as well as quite some super rare, super premium, super old bottlings, giving Macallan a run for its money. How odd. After all those years, yet another Dalmore managed to emerged on top of the heap of samples. After many of my own bottles, here is sample for a change. As often happens with distilleries and their owners, they tend to change hands more often than they used to back in the day. In the year of both other Dalmore reviews, namely 2014, the company that holds Dalmore, Whyte and Mackay, was bought by Philippines’ largest liquor company called Emperador. Just to refresh your memory, Whyte and Mackay doesn’t only operate Dalmore distillery, but also in their portfolio are: Fettercairn, Tamnavulin, Jura and Invergordon (grain).

Color: White Wine.

Nose: Fruity and Malty, with a tiny hint of smoke in the back. When freshly poured this is big on fruit, candied fruit, but a lot of this is just blown away rather quickly. Smells of toffee, caramel and apple, caramelized apple to be precise, but also fresh apple flesh and hints of apple skin. Warm cookie dough. Apple pie, but most definitely without the cinnamon, no cinnamon in this apple pie whatsoever. Fresh air and an even sharper breath of air, probably because of the smoky note this Whisky has. Maybe this comes from the toasted oak. Not sure right now. The Malty notes are getting more of a say and seem to introduce some more waxy notes, like the wax from the skin a red apple. With this waxy note comes the promise of some bitterness in the taste, we’ll see if that is the case here. By now, more wood as well. Sawdust from plywood. Dusty altogether. Hints of lemon peel and some remarkable horseradish notes, I didn’t expect here. Smells like a modern Whisky, although tasted blind, I wouldn’t have been surprised if this was coming from some sort of refill Sherry cask (as well). For me this doesn’t have (only) the classic refill Bourbon notes we all know so well by now. No, this one has something else as well, something I also picked up on in the Dalmore 12yo, being different from others.

Taste: Soft, spicy, slightly woody and creamy. Sugar water. Wood, paper and a nice sweet chewiness. Waxy and indeed slightly bitter. Having this in your mouth makes the nose expand a bit. Not really fruity though, but it is vegetal. Highly drinkable, but not easily drinkable, it seems to have a taste profile more cut out for aficionado’s or connoisseurs. It has too much fresh oak notes and it might be a bit too bitter for the general public I guess. It’s also rather simple and thin, although it does have good balance. However, after tasting this, the nose expands, more and more is showed there. I’m wondering if this effect of the nose evolving and the taste being rather simple, comes from too much reduction of this particular example. Medium finish at best, disintegrating a bit, but the aftertaste is nice and warming, shows some of the sweetness and paper-like bitterness this Whisky possesses.

Definitely different from both other reviewed Dalmore’s, and it is not as bad as it seems. It has to be worked a bit and personally, I wouldn’t like to try this as a novice. I like the vegetal notes it shows, but it needed a very long time in my glass to show this. More than 30 minutes for sure…

Points: 85

Dalmore 11yo 1999/2011 (57.2%, Kintra, Refill Sherry Butt #3079, 120 bottles)

Dalmore then. Not so long ago I reviewed the official Dalmore 12yo and rummaging through the ever-growing stock of samples, I found this almost 12yo Kintra bottling. If it was only given two extra months and two extra days, this too would have been 12 years old!

Dalmore was founded in 1839 by Alexander Matheson but the Sunderland’s start distilling there. Soon after the MacKenzie brothers, Charles, Andrew and Alexander start to run the distillery. When Alexander Matheson dies in 1886, his successor sells the distillery to the MacKenzie brothers (1891). In 1917 the Royal Navy takes over and use the facility to make mines! After three years the Navy moves out and in 1922 the distillery is again up and running. In 1960 The MacKenzie brothers merge with White & Mackay and in 1990 White & Mackay were bought by American brands. In 2001 White and Mackay were sold again and called Kyndal spirits but the White & Mackay name returns a year later. In 2007 it is sold yet again to the United Breweries Group, an Indian conglomerate.

Dalmore 11yo 1999/2011 (57.2%, Kintra, Refill Sherry Butt #3079, 120 bottles)

Color: Light ocher gold

Nose: Big. Vanilla ice-cream and light wood, with some light menthol cigarette as well. Powdery and dusty. Cherries and Licorice. Horseradish. The wood is very perfumy. Definitely floral and perfumed soap. Strong aroma from a high strength Whisky. Half sweet, salty toffee with funky Fino or Manzanilla Sherry notes, but not as much as in other Fino matured Whiskies, so this might not be one. Red fruit hard candy drops and it does have a salty edge. Animalesk (cow dung) and soft wood. So enough happening on the nose.

Taste: Nice burn and quite sweet actually. Spicy sugared oak with white pepper, but also a sour oak note which turns into ripe black fruits. Quite a lot of wood. Coconut and maybe some peach. The horseradish returns and here it is less sharp but more sweet. Ahhh how nice it is to have a cask strength Whisky again. A breath of fresh air. Vanilla ice-cream returns for the finish. Otherwise the black fruits stay on so the funky sourness is there to stay too. Nice example to analyze like this. But the a word say it all. It is a Whisky you have to work with. If taken casually you won’t fully appreciate it, and maybe even won’t like. This needs your full attention and time.

Quite a nice development. It starts out pretty sweet, after which the wood shows itself. After that, the body collapses a bit to reform behind the lines to come back with a nice finish. Although not without its faults, the whole is quite nice and absolutely an experience. Nice how easy the development can be followed. The more it breathes the better it gets. Very nice pick Erik!

Points: 85