Monday, May 6, 2013

New release - Dalmore Valour

The Highland distillery of Dalmore has launched a new expression exclusively for the travel retail market - Dalmore Valour. This new single malt is initially matured in two types of first fill ex-bourbon casks and 30 year old ex-Matusalem oloroso sherry butts. The spirit is then added to and finished in ex-Port pipes. The whisky was launched with a high profile display in the Qatar Airport Duty Free and is now appearing in other travel retail outlets around the globe. Dalmore Valour is priced at £50 (€55 or $72 USD) a bottle.

Dalmore is located in the northern Highlands, on the outskirts of the town of Alness, which is about half an hour north of Inverness. It was founded in 1839 by Alexander Matheson and has had an interesting history, including being used during the First World War by the Royal Navy to manufacture explosives. The current capacity of the distillery is four million litres per year.  Dalmore is currently owned by Whyte & Mackay, which is now a subsidiary of the Indian company United Spirits, who took over in 2007.  They also own the famous Whyte & Mackay blended whisky brand, plus the distilleries at Fettercairn, Jura and Tamnavulin.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a dark golden amber and the nose is sweet, malty and fruity.  The maltiness hits first and has a sweet grassy and grainy edge to the aroma.  Very shortly afterwards comes the sweet and fruity aromas - the sweetness shows itself as caramel, toffee and golden syrup, while the fruitiness is based around notes of dark dried fruits (think of raisins, figs and cranberries) and bitter orange. 

On the palate, the whisky feels soft and gentle.  The palate follows a similar line to that of the nose - the sweet malted barley notes again appear first, then the sweeter and fruity notes add balance.  The malted barley adds a creaminess to the palate and accentuates underlying honey and vanilla elements.  Then come the sweeter characteristics, which again are reminiscent of caramel (especially those hard caramel sweets), toffee and a hint of dark treacle (instead of golden syrup).  There is a late hint of milk chocolate also.  The fruitiness shows a heavy bitter orange influence, with a hint of cinnamon powder, and some juicier dried fruits (think of raisins and figs especially) also come through.

The finish is of decent length and the sweet and fruity elements are present, but disappear relatively quickly.  This leaves a taste of tangy bitter orange and some increasingly drying wood spices in the mouth.  These become drier and more tannic with time.  It is worth revisiting the empty glass after about 10 minutes - it smells wonderfully malty and sweet.

What's the verdict?
The Dalmore Valour seems quite a basic whisky but one that is pleasant and enjoyable.  By saying 'basic' we mean that it shows its characteristics on the nose - sweet, malty and fruity - and they remain true all the way through the palate and finish, without much depth being added. 

It is also not too badly priced and is worth checking out next time you are passing through an airport, especially if you like your sweet and fruity whiskies.  More expressions of Dalmore are promised for later in 2013, so it will be interesting to see what else they come up with.

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