Monday, March 14, 2011

New releases > Dalmore Rivers Collection

the dalmore rivers collection
The Dalmore distillery is located in the northern Highland town of Alness in Scotland. It was founded in 1839 by Alexander Matheson and has had an interesting history, including being used in the First World War by the Royal Navy to manufacture explosives! Dalmore is currently owned by the famous whisky name of Whyte & Mackay, which is now a subsidiary of the Indian company United Spirits - they own the famous Whyte & Mackay blended whisky brand, plus the distilleries of Fettercairn, Jura and Tamnavulin. United Spirits took over in 2007 and have since re-branded most of their whisky ranges and packaging. Dalmore has an annual production capacity of around four million litres and has a core range which includes a 12, 15 and 18 years old.

The Rivers Collection is a new series of four single malt whiskies that celebrate four of Scotland's most famous waterways - the Dee, the Spey, the Tay and the Tweed. Dalmore have teamed up with the trustees of each river system and some of the money from each bottle sold will be used to help conservation and maintenance. This work includes re-opening blocked tributaries, aiding salmon spawning, measuring water quality and helping conserve the diverse flora and fauna that live in and around the rivers.

Each of the four whiskies is bottled at 40% ABV and all four expressions have been matured in a combination of both ex-bourbon and ex-Oloroso sherry casks. The difference between each expression is in the length of time spent in each type of cask and the percentages of each type of cask used in the final whisky. A minimum of £4 from the recommended retail price of £40 will be donated to the relevant river and the series can be found in specialist whisky retailers now.

dalmore dee dramThe Dee Dram
The River Dee rises at the highest point of any UK river (1915 metres/3950 feet above sea level) in the Cairngorms National Park and flows through the central Highlands to the North Sea at Aberdeen. The colour of the Dee Dram is a vibrant gold with a hint of amber. The nose is clean and sweet with aromas of caramel, toffee, brown sugar and dried fruits (think of raisins and sultanas). Underneath are notes of malty cereal and dried grasses. The palate is quite sweet with some pleasant tangy and spicy notes. It has a combination of notes - juicy sultanas, brown sugar, orange zest, milk chocolate and gentle wood spices (especially cinnamon). The finish begins sweetly but turns woody and spicy at the end, leaving a pleasing freshness in the mouth.

dalmore spey dramThe Spey Dram
The River Spey is one of the most famous rivers in the world and is well known for its salmon fishing. It is the second longest Scottish river (at 107 miles/172 km) and the fastest flowing. It rises at Loch Spey, close to the southern tip of Loch Ness and flows north east to the Moray Firth. The colour and aroma of the Spey Dram are both light. A complex number of aromas are detected, but all are subtle - malted barley, hay, dried fruit (raisins, sultanas and apricot), honey, vanilla and orange oil. The palate is also soft and gentle with an immediate maltiness giving way to other notes of coffee, milk chocolate, cinnamon, honeycomb, butterscotch, sultanas and orange peel. The finish is almost delicate and sadly short, disappearing before you even realise. Subtlety is the word here.

dalmore tay dramThe Tay Dram
The River Tay is Scotland's longest river at 120 miles (193 km) in length. It flows from close to the west Highland coast near Oban, across the central Highlands to the Firth of Tay close to Dundee. The colour of the Tay Dram is a golden amber and the nose is very pleasant and packed with lovely aromas. There are distinct cereal grains, prominent orange oil/zest, oak, honey, sweet baking spices (think of cinnamon and nutmeg) and a hint of a scented flower like honeysuckle. The palate is delicious and full of concentrated flavours - caramel, honey, brown sugar, dried tropical fruit (especially mango), marmalade orange and subtle woody baking spices. The finish is long and expressive, gripping the palate with a lingering bittersweet quality. A thoroughly classy and enjoyable dram.

dalmore tweed dramThe Tweed Dram
The River Tweed flows through the Borders region of Scotland and is regarded as one of the world's best salmon fishing rivers. It rises in the hills to the south of Edinburgh and joins the North Sea at the English town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. The colour is golden yellow and the nose is light but expressive, beginning with distinct aromas of malty grains, coconut, vanilla and honey. Then comes baked/stewed pears and apples, sultanas and nutmeg. The palate is subtle, delicate and almost understated. Notes of honey, bittersweet cereals and sultanas stand out, but the rest is a bit muddy and hard to define. The finish is on the shortish side but is enjoyable with sweet honey and subtle woody spices present.

What's the verdict?
The Dalmore Rivers Collection is a solid series of whiskies that offers something for most whisky drinkers. The Spey and the Tweed are on the lighter side with subtle, almost delicate characteristics. The Dee and the Tay are richer, sweeter and more concentrated in aroma and flavour. The range also offers something different from the core Dalmore range, which tend to have much more of a heavy ex-sherry cask influence. In our opinion, the stand out whisky of the series is the Tay Dram, which oozes classiness and has a wonderful concentration and complexity of flavour.

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