Dalmore whisky review

The Dalmore distillery has been producing malt whiskies since 1839, and it has the oldest maturing stocks of any distillery, dating back to 1868! I was recently contacted about sampling some of the single malt whiskies produced by the Dalmore.

The box of samples I got was interesting; not only were the vials labeled well, but the packaging explained each sample nicely. In full disclosure, I was sent these samples, free of charge, to review, but with no guarantee of a positive review. Being a Scotch drinker, I wasn’t going to pass it up!

The samples I received were all single malts, but aged differently and in different types of casks:

  • The Dalmore 12 Year Old, aged in 50% Oloroso sherry casks and 50% American white oak casks.
  • The Dalmore Gran Reserva, derived from a combination of 60% sherry-aged single malt and 40% American white oak-aged single malt, from 10 to 15 years aged.
  • The Dalmore 15 Year Old, crafted from wood infused with three rare Sherries from world-renowned Gonzalez-Byass—Apostoles, Amoroso and Matusalem.
  • The Dalmore King Alexander III, a mix of single malt aged in six different wine barrels.

To do this review, I asked a friend of mine to come over to help out, and we compared notes as we tasted.

Here are the results!

The Dalmore 12 year old:

There was a caramel taste to this, especially up front, along with citrus.  On the finish, there was a bit of anise.  This was surprisingly sweet for a 12 year old.  There was just a touch of burn right up front, but it didn’t last beyond the first taste.  Overall, a very drinkable 12 year old Scotch whisky that I think would mix very well with Drambuie for a great Rusty Nail.

The Dalmore Gran Reserva:

There was a nice bit of fire with the Gran Reserva, but more toward the back of the mouth.  It didn’t burn so much as just add some spice and interest.  This was smoother, calmer than the 12 year old, with an undertone of tobacco and a brandy-like feel.  The finish had a bit of wood flavor with caramel.  This was a nice whisky!

The Dalmore 15 Year Old:

The first thought that came to mind with the 15 year old was calm.  This was very smooth, with sweet caramel.  It was very soft, maybe too soft, laid back.  If someone wanted a first whisky to try, though, this would be a good choice.  For me, this didn’t offer enough taste to be of interest.

The Dalmore King Alexander III:

This is a $200 a bottle Scotch whisky, so I expected a lot out of this.  The bouquet of this was very mild and pleasant, and very soft.  The first taste brought out dark fruit, with a nice burn that grew from the front of the tongue toward the back, then went away.  There were a lot of levels to this, and the mouthfeel was interesing; it seemed almost light, but syrupy and pleasant.  The finish brought out dark chocolate and iodine.  This is a whisky that brings out images of men sitting in a dark wood paneled library smoking cigars and enjoying whisky with a splash of water, speaking with accents so thick they’re barely understandable.

To complete my review, I tried the King Alexander III against my favorite whisky, Lagavulin.  To be honest, both are great whiskies, but the styles are so different.  Where the KAIII brings images of refined living spaces and expensive cigars, Lagavulin’s images include rocks sprayed by heavy surf in the North Sea and men in heavy waxed cotton jackets staying warm near a smoky fire.  Where the Dalmore is sweet and smooth, the Lagavulin is masculine and rugged, but not harsh.  Price not being considered, I’d personally go for the Lagavulin, but that’s just because the Islay whiskies are unbeatable in my book.  But if someone pulled out a bottle of any of the Dalmore whiskies, especially the Gran Reserva or King Alexander III, I’d be a very happy guest!

And of the Dalmores I tried, the Gran Reserva is worth getting a bottle, immediately, if you want a great example of Highland single malt whisky.

(photo courtesy of the Baddish Group)

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