Dalmore

   

Dalmore distillery was founded in Alness, Ross-shire (Northern Highlands) in 1839 by Alexander Matheson, but he leased the distillery to the Sunderland family.

Alexander Matheson died in 1886 and the distillery was sold to the MacKenzie family who had operated it for the last 19 years.

In the early 1960's The MacKenzie brothers merged with Whyte & Mackay to form Dalmore Whyte & Mackay Ltd, which later became just Whyte & Mackay Distillers Ltd.

In 1990 W&M was purchased by American Brands.

 
 

It seems that 'American Brands' was renamed JBB (Greater Europe) in 1995, but the name seems to have reverted back to Whyte & Mackay Distillers in 1996.

Anyway, JBB (Greater Europe) was bought by Kyndal Spirits in 2001 and definitely changed the name back to Whyte & Mackay at that time.

Today, Whyte & Mackay is owned by United Spirits, a company owned by Vijay Mallya and has been since 2007.

 
 

 Photo by Wojsyl, via Wikimedia Creative Commons License

 

More great distillery info here, thanks to Malt Madness

 

 

  Ages (OB)   General whisky characteristics: Rich, dark fruits, marzipan, orange, Christmas pudding  
   

Richard who? Here I am, sitting in a hotel meeting room overlooking George Square in Glasgow and listening to some chap called Richard Paterson, Master Blender for Whyte & Mackay, telling me he'll kill me if I, or any of the other 30 or so attendees of the Masterclass, should commit the cardinal sin of dropping even a single cube of ice into my whisky. Well, I am also a devout follower of the 'no ice' faction, but I say old chap, isn't this just a tad strong? He also claims responsibility for 'Marrying' ....

 
 

Did I say marrying? The second time I met Richard he was performing a marriage ceremony on his stand at a whisky festival!

Did I say jolly good blends? This particular Masterclass included two unbelievable examples; a 30y and a 40y Whyte & Mackay - truly magical!

But back to the matter in hand; The star of the show here was a Dalmore 40y and at Cask Strength! This particular whisky was a preview to a new 40y Dalmore which would be bottled the following Spring, but at a reduced strength from this CS version. We were indeed a lucky minority of people to sample this whisky in all its true magnificence before bottling.

The Result: Currently unsurpassed in my experience. A legend that is my No. 1 all time whisky.

 

 
   

Dalmore, 40y, Cask Strength

A cask sample and not bottled at this particular strength.

I have voted this as No. 1 in my 'Top 10' Whiskies

 
 

Nose: My goodness, this has wood, some smoke, every dark fruit & berry that I can think of plus a few more. It has rich sherry that one would never find on a supermarket shelf or in most good wine shops and, somewhere in there too, are hints of nuts, marzipan and just a dash of orange.

Palate: Smooth luxury beyond belief, everything promised by the nose (of the whisky, not Richard!) rejoices on the palate in total harmony, but I'm still going to add a couple of drops of water.

With 3 drops of water (No Richard, liquid not solid!): This opens into an even more sublime experience which just keeps on and on and on ........

Overall Impression: Did I say magical and long finish? This whisky etched its magnificence in my brain and I am still enjoying the experience.

 

   
 

 

Dalmore, 40y, 40% ABV

(The bottled version)

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Currently voted No. 7 in my 'Top 10'

 
 

Colour: Rich, very dark sherry

Nose: Dark fruits (black cherry, bramble - blackberry, raisins), slight citrus notes, marzipan and a lingering hint of smoke

Palate: Smooth and luxurious, even velvet with those dark fruits dancing on the palate along with the marzipan, but other nuts like hazelnut and walnut also join the party which longers long and doesn't want to end.

Finish: Very long and slightly dry.

Overall impression: Stunning, excellent dram which is incredibly deep and intense.

 

   
 

Picture the scene; It was Sunday afternoon, 11th March 2007 and I had just popped in to The Munich Whisky Festival to meet a few (whisky) industry people and look in on a masterclass which interested me. Meetings and masterclass finished, I decided to complete the afternoon with a wander around the stands when I noticed Richard at the Dalmore / Jura stand. He called me over and we chatted generally about my living in Munich and also his life on the road, or more accurately, the amount of time he spends in the air flying between events.

Whilst we were chatting, an unmarked bottle magically appeared in his hands and even more magically, a very generous dram suddenly occupied my glass. Just one nosing  told me all I needed to know, rich, dark fruits, marzipan, slight citrus elements, luxuriously old wood and even a hint of smoke. This was something good and I think I knew exactly what; About a year previously I had the absolute privilege to sample a new Dalmore at 40y, but straight from the cask at CS. This was something similar and yes, Richard confirmed this was the 40y at the bottling strength of 40% ABV.

Delightful, thank you Richard for what are now two of my top 10 drams and well worthy of the accolade. Magical!

   

 

   

Dalmore, 12y, 40% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Nose: Sweet malt with cocktail cherries in the foreground being joined by a bitter nuttiness in the background.

Palate: Smooth and creamy with a slowly developing dark fruit presence which comprises bramble, blackcurrant and raisins, but fading to a soft aftertaste of blackcurrant and butterscotch.

Overall Impression: A good after dinner dram, but I know that Dalmore ages well and this one has hints of all the right attributes, but it is still a few years too young for me. Those dark fruit flavours would develop into something extremely special if left a few more years.

 

   
   

Dalmore, 12y, Madeira, 59% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Nose: Floral, slightly citrus and with aniseed.

Palate: Sweet and initially quite powerful, but softer on second taste as it then offers a flavour of rose petals.

With water: Softer and very smooth with more petals and not so fiery.

Overall Impression: Too imposing without water, but very good with a few drops.

 

   
   

Dalmore, 15y, 40% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass. Classic Malt

Colour: Teak

Nose: Immediate orange and dark chocolate followed by coffee beans and then aged oak as the coffee and orange begin to fade.

Palate: Very smooth but quite dry with wood and more of that dark chocolate which has about 90% cocoa. This is followed by hints of oil of orange  and dry sherry which leads into the finish.

Finish: Long and dry as it's really a fine extension to the palate.

Overall Impression: A very nice whisky, I like it!

 

   

 

 

Vintages

   
   

Dalmore, 1973, Cabernet Sauvignon, 50.2% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€ to €€€€€

 
 

Nose: Dark fruits with brambles, black cherries, blackcurrant and cedar.

Palate: Christams Pudding! Dark fruits, liquorice, plums and marzipan.

Overall Impression: Very smooth, rich and elegant with wine and dark fruits. This was the 50% version but we were told it would be reduced to 45% for bottling.

 

   

 

 

Constellation Collection

A collection of 21 bottlings for Duty Free & Travel Retail

 
 

 

Dalmore, 1992, 19y, Cask No.18, 53.8% ABV

Matured for 10 years in American white oak (Quercus Alba), first fill Kentucky bourbon barrel, then transferred in 2002 into Port Pipe (Quercus Robur) European oak for 9 years.

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€ (€2,500)

 
 

Glass. Copita

Colour: Teak, dark amber

Nose: Lots of traditional wax furniture polish and aged oak over red wine and cherries. Also a light spiciness and suggestion of more tropical fruit in the background.

Palate: Silky smooth and quite unusually everything is initially concentrated solely on the roof of the palate. This includes chocolate, nuts and more light spiciness.

Finish: Long and silky.

Overall Impression: A very interesting whisky with lots of fruitiness and spices, albeit in a quite light way. Excellent, almost a "Great" but just not quite.

 

   
 

 

Dalmore, 1973, 38y, Cask No.10, 48.1% ABV

Matured for 32 years in American white oak then transferred in 2005 into a French oak, Cabernet Sauvignon cask for 3 years and then in 2008 trransferred into small batch Kentucky bourbon barrel for a further 3 years.

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€13,600)

 
 

Glass. Copita

Colour: Rich amber

Nose: Orange with a hint of lime zest followed by blackcurrant and a suggestion of plums. With time in the glass this develops a light nuttiness (mainly hazelnuts) alongside vanilla. Crθme Brulee anyone?

Palate: Slightly dry but creamy mouth-feel with lots of fruit and wine flavours. I'm thinking red fruits here, maybe redcurrant, raspberry, cranberry and faint cherry.

Finish: Long, rich and smooth.

Overall Impression: Fine, red, very deep and intense. A slightly different Dalmore profile in this one, but truly magnificent and a "Great" in my book.

 

   
 

 

Dalmore, 1969, 42y, Cask No.14, 45.5% ABV

Matured for 36 years in American white oak (Quercus Alba), then transferred in 2005 into a 30 year old Matusalem Oloroso sherry butt for 4 years and then in 2009 trransferred into a bourbon barrel for a further 2 years.

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€18,500)

 
 

Glass. Copita

Colour: Glowing rich amber

Nose: Amazingly floral with early summertime Alpine meadow blossom alongside damson, oil of orange, marzipan, mango and creamy toffee.

Palate: This suggests a rich fruit and nut cocktail with floral overtones from that wild Alpine meadow.

Finish: Long, light and luxurious.

Overall Impression: Now that's what I call "Great".

 

   
 

 

Dalmore, 1964, 46y, Cask No.09/693, 45.1% ABV

Matured for 44 years in American white oak then transferred in 2008 into an Oloroso sherry butt for 3 years (ish?).

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€25,000 I need more €€€ symbols here)

 
 

Glass. Copita

Colour: Rich amber with glowing hints of chocolate

Nose: Lots of flora with light lavendar and violets, then oil of orange accompanied by exotic spices; cardamom, cumin, and a suggestion of cloves.

Palate: Slightly dry but filled with blood orange, chocolate, figs, cherries, freshly ground coffee beans and a light spiciness.

Finish: Very long and floral with an extra helping of chocolate.

Overall Impression: Just when I thought it couldn't get any better after the '69 I find even more depth and surprises in the '64. Truly magnificent, an undoubted "Great".

 

   

 

 

Specials & Commemmoratives

   
   

Dalmore, MacKenzie, 46% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; A cross between walnut & teak with a hint of cherry

Nose: Dark fruit (mainly raisins & plums) and rich orange

Palate: Smooth luxury with that orange, but more like an oil of orange than acidic citrus. Also the dark fruits are in abundance along with a hint of marzipan.

Overall Impression: An excellent Dalmore which has been chosen as a limited edition to commemorate the Clan MacKenzie gathering in 2010 and also help raise funds to renovate the family seat. This retails at around the same price than the King Alexander III and for me is a far superior dram. If you find one, buy it!

Whisky & Chocolate: (Chocolate by Domori)

"Il Blend" 70% cacao. Light honey, caramel and a hint of tobacco; The combination of dark fruit in the whisky and honey, tobacco & caramel of the chocolate just synergise on the palate to create an overall entity which is creamy, luxurious and delightful on the palate. Very good.

"Teyuna" 70% cacao. Bitter sweet, cashew nuts and a touch of honey; The combination of the Teyuna's cashew nuts merge with the dark fruits of the Dalmore Mackenzie to offer even more 'Christmas cake' feeling although the flavours in the Dalmore are significantly stronger and dominate through the finish.

"Sur del Lago" 70% cacao. Dark, rich, bitter sweet, seaside promenade; I am amazed that the slight bitterness of the Sur del Lago actually enhances the dark fruit and sweetness of the Dalmore Mackenzie to create an even more delightfully rounded and fruity palate, although the flavours of the choclate rather than the whisky dominate the finish. Excellent!

 

   
   

Dalmore, Castle Leod, 1995, 46% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Teak with more than a hint of copper

Nose: Oak, wax polish, figs, black cherries, nuts and bread dough, all in a 'stollen' kind of way.

Palate: A light Christmas cake cocktail of fruit and nuts, with a heavier tendency towards cherries and almonds, but also with a strong suggestion of fruity red wine.

Finish: Long with creamy red wine.

Overall Impression: This is quite heavily influenced by the Bordeaux (red wine) but it really doesn't suffer for the fact as this is one red wine finish that works well. I like it!

 
 

Dalmore, Cromartie, 1996, 45% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Amber with a hint of bronze

Nose: Very aromatic with light perfume, wood and a suggestion of freshly polished brass. In fcat this very much reminds me of an olde worlde country inn with lots of wood, brass, copper and all held together with just a hint of luxury. A little more time releases hints of raisins marinated in blood orange and served with an apricot & banana coulis.

Palate: The palate offers a little more aggression than the nose as the fruit and wood are accompanied by a slightly penetrating pepperiness and spiciness, along the lines of cloves.

Finish: Long with emphasis on the cloves.

Overall Impression: A truly fantastic nose is followed by a jolly good, but not quite as stunning a palate. This is very rich and chewy and extremely good, just not quite a "Great".

 

   
   

Dalmore, King Alexander III, 40% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Nose: New, expensive young leather shoes.

Palate: New leather with a very faint taste of slightly bitter raspberries.

Overall Impression: "Not as good as I expected for a price of around €140". Dalmore are capable of some great whiskies, unfortunately, this is not one of them as it was rather disjointed in flavours and a little thin and watery on the palate.

That first tasting of King Alexander III was towards the end of a long day at a whisky festival and as I said, Iwas rather disappointed with it, certainly in relation to price and value. Fortunately, in January 2011 I have just had the chance to try it again, so are my thoughts any different now?

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich amber

Nose: Initially leather and aged oak with just a dash of quality perfume behind the ears, but very strange is a certain aroma of steamed basmati rice which keeps trying to surface!

Palate: Is there such a thing as leather flavoured ice cream? The leather from the nose translates into the palate but in a very creamy way which reminds me of ice cream. There's also a hint of cloves, figs and prunes and finally, a very pleasant fruitiness which leads gently into the finish.

Finish: Long, slightly dry and slightly fruity too.

Overall Impression: Basmati rice on the nose? OK, it was light and far from constant, but rather unusual. As for the palate; this was very good any my overall experience was much improved over last time.

 

   
   

Dalmore, "Dee Dram", 12y Limited Edition, 40.5% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

"Dram-atics" live review

 
 

Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Amber

Nose: Slightly sour wood, blue cheese and slightly smoked (red) fruits.

Palate: Slightly watery mouth-feel, liquorice root, lightly smoked creamy cheese and some fresh wood.

Finish: Medium to long with dark fruit and light wood.

Overall Impression: I find this a rather difficult whisky to assess, the mixture of European and American oak appear to be fighting for dominance and neither really wins, making it a slightly un-harmonious dram. Of course the fault may lie with me, so I'll revisit this in a day or two.

 

   
     

Dalmore, "Dee Dram", Season 2011, 40% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

"Dram-atics" live review

 
 

Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Light amber with a hint of copper.

Nose: Lovely hints of oil of orange over various dark fruits including plums, figs and possibly currants, whilst the background seems to comprise a slightly sweet maltiness.

Palate: R
ich and smooth with those dark fruits and oil of orange coming to the fore, although that maltiness is also in evidence, albeit slightly more bitter than it was on the nose. I then detect something akin to cherries (possibly dark ones) leading into the quite long and smooth finish

Finish: Long and smooth with some cherries.

Overall Impression:
This Dee Dram has a certain after-dinner elegance which would certainly befit a Regency Gentlemens' Club lounge after a hard days fishing.

 

   
   

Dalmore, "Spey Dram", Season 2011, 40% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

"Dram-atics" live review

 
 

Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Rich amber.

Nose: Cloves, spicy wood and even a suggestion of freshly-rising wholemeal bread dough with a lime twist right at the end.

Palate: This doesn't quite deliver the spiciness of the nose as it is very smooth and lingering with dark fruits that clearly suggest red cherries and a hint of something tropical; possibly papaya. Also in there is a suggestion of marzipan or even walnut, in fact it has a creaminess which could even be Tiramisu as hints of cocoa develop into the quite long finish.

Finish: Long with hints of cocoa.

Overall Impression: The Spey is also an after-dinner experience, but this time it's more creamy dessert than Regency lounge and tales of the one that got away.

 

   
   

Dalmore, "Tweed Dram", Season 2011, 40% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

"Dram-atics" live review

 
 

Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Rich dark gold.

Nose: Rather subdued, faint even! After giving this some minutes to develop I find a light rubberiness develops over fresh herbs and a suggestion of aromatic wood. The rubberiness fades to leave a rather pleasantly fresh & sweet nose.

Palate:
Smooth whilst at the same time slightly dry and spicy. It certainly has cloves, albeit very light and plenty of herbal influences alongside blood orange.

Finish: Very long, slightly dry and quite repetitive with that orange influence.

Overall Impression: A quite different Dalmore which is more 'hip flask on the river bank'.

 

   
   

Dalmore, "Tay Dram", Season 2011, 40% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

"Dram-atics" live review

 
 

Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Bright dark gold bordering on sunny amber

Nose: Quite light but also quite different with notes of toffee which soon turn into those toasted coconut macaroons and then again into aromatic wood and lemon groves on the banks of a large sea or lake.

Palate: Initially quite leafy but this soon develops into fruit with some of the citrus of those lemon groves, but retaining the freshness of the lakeside. There's also a toasted nuttiness which leads into the long finish.

Finish: Long.

Overall Impression: Another very different but also good dram here. Where the others were relaxing after dinner or hip flask on the river bank, this one is a main course of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, so to speak.

 

   

 

   

Dalmore, Cigar Malt Reserve, 44% ABV

Second edition of The Dalmore Cigar Malt

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Amber

Nose: Oooh, there's lots happening here with an initial slight smokiness, then it offers a kind of mistiness or fogginess along with a slight leafiness, reminiscent of an Englsih country lane on an Autumnal morning. The aromas enrichen with time to include my favourite coffee cream chocolate.

Palate: Light oil of orange alongide those coffee cream choc
olates. Rich, smooth, nice.

Finish: Long and creamy with the suggestion of coffee beans and chocolate.

Overall Impression: Very inoffensive even to a non-smoker with lovely hints of orange, coffee and chocolate and that very light smokiness on the initial nose. Yes, I can see how a smoker may enjoy this with a cigar or even pipe, but as a non-smoker I'll take it with some rich dark chocolate please.

 

   

 

 

Independent Bottlers

   
     

Wemyss, Dalmore sherry cask, 1990, 46%

Labelled as 'Spiced figs'

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Spiegelau

Colour: Light copper / bronze

Nose: Nice nose! I understand why it's described as spiced figs, but after a few minutes in the glass I am finding a slightly more fruity presence, almost rich apricot.

Palate: A tiny sip immediately reminds me of Christmas cake (Uk-style!), but the flavours remain directly on the front of the tongue and don't spread fully across the palate. Swirling a second longer sip around the palate for some seconds soon rectifies that issue! There's definite marzipan in the quite long aftertaste.

2 drops of water: The two drops really intensify the flavours on the palate and even open the nose into something almost floral.

Overall Impression: Well done Wemyss, another one I like!
I have tasted many Dalmore expressions and to be honest, if given this one totally blind, Dalmore would be one of my three guesses at the distillery. Again as I look at Susan's (of Wemyss) description I see this was bottled in April 2009 which means this is 18
-19 years old and is really quite mature. I certainly prefer this over the standard (younger OB) Dalmore expressions.

 

   
   

AD Rattray, Dalmore 11y, 59.1%

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Yellow (21ct) gold

Nose: Very light, fresh and aromatic with wood, vanilla, light banana and peach.

Palate: Sweet fruit, creamy mouth-feel with some white pepper and also something quite floral.

Finish: Very long, floral and fruity with tingly pepper.

Overall Impression: What a different Dalmore. No heavy sherry influence here as this is light, aromatic, floral and fresh. But it is good.

 

   
   

Dalmore 1996, 14y, 55.5% ABV

Independent bottling for Master of Malt

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

"Dram-atics" live review

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Extremely pale

Nose: Lots of malt and wood, so much that I am reminded of standing in a distillery warehouse with a saucer of raw malt grains to nose. There's also a gentle spiritiness to this.

Palate: Light and peppery with a hint of damson.

With 4 drops of water: The nose is still quite spirity whereas the palate now has increased fruit with damson and cherry.

With a further 4 drops of water: The nose is now extremely light as it has faded significantly to be left with just gentle hints of fruit, very gentle! The palate is also weakened, but still has damson and cherry.

Finish: Long.

Overall Impression: What a light and gentle Dalmore, certainly the lightest one I have tried and thanks to the spiritiness it appears to be much younger than its 14 years. I do like that damson and cherry.

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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