Dalwhinnie is Scotland's highest malt whisky distillery and is also one of the remotest. It is located in the small village of Dalwhinnie in the central Highlands and stands at 326 metres (1070 feet) above sea level. The distillery was founded in 1897 by a trio of local businessmen and and many thought they were mad to choose the remote location in the Grampian mountains. Infact, they built Dalwhinnie at the crossroads of the two major trading routes in Scotland at that time - one running from Inverness to Edinburgh and the other running from Fort William to Aberdeen. The village grew up around the distillery and today attracts 25,000 visitors a year, despite its remoteness.
The current owners are Diageo, the global drinks company. They have placed Dalwhinnie in their 'Classic Malts' range, which showcases a definitive whisky from each of the whisky producing regions of Scotland. Dalwhinnie represents the central Highlands in the range and this has helped push the single malts in to the world's top 15 for sales, despite its small annual production of only one million litres a year. The core range reflects this and is limited to this 15 years old and a 'Distiller's Edition' which is 17 years old and has been matured in Oloroso sherry casks for the last two years.
The colour is golden and the nose is very promising and aromatic. It is packed with honey and vanilla with some sweet cereal grains coming through. On the palate, this is liquid gold - heaps of honey, a touch of something floral (think of heather), gorgeous vanilla, a hint of citrus (imagine orange and orange oil especially), something herbal (think of fresh green grass) and a lovely grainy maltiness. The finish is long and rounded with the sweet honey and vanilla becoming more sugary (imagine caramel) with just a hint of some heathery peat at the end. This is an extremely good dram that is sweet but without being over sweet and cloying in the mouth. It has a succulent yet refreshing quality that balances the sweetness and it would be a great whisky to have if you enjoy sweet dessert wines such as Sauternes or Tokaji. A bottle should cost around £30. I think Diageo were right - this really is a 'Classic Malt'. An excellent malt whisky.