Thursday, October 8, 2015

Review - Dalmore 21 years old

This Dalmore 21 years old single malt is a new expression from the north Highland distillery that in conjunction with the 30 years old, which released at the same time, showcases some of their older stocks.  The limited edition whisky has been crafted using casks hand selected by Richard Paterson, the Master Distiller for Dalmore, who has just celebrated his 45th anniversary in the whisky industry.  The liquid included has been matured in American white oak before being finished in first-fill ex-Matusalem Oloroso sherry casks from the famous Gonzalez Byass bodega in Jerez, Spain.

Dalmore is located in the village of Alness, which is about half an hour's drive north of Inverness. It sits on the shores of the Cromarty Firth, Scotland's deepest sea loch, and overlooks the Black Isle.  The distillery was founded in 1839 by Alexander Matheson and has 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 part of the larger Phillipines based Emperador Inc. They own the popular Whyte & Mackay blended whisky brand, plus the distilleries at Fettercairn, Jura and Tamnavulin.

The 21 years old has been bottled at 42% ABV and there are just 8,000 bottles available.  They will retail for a recommended price of £350 each and it is available globally from specialist whisky retailers now.

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden amber and the nose is rich, sweet and very nutty.  The immediate aromas are of caramel, toffee and plenty of walnuts and toasted almonds.  Through these come further aromas of raisins, dried figs, candied orange, increasing earthy wood spices (think of cinnamon and nutmeg) and a hint of milk chocolate.

On the palate the whisky feels lighter than expected from the experience on the nose.  There is an intense malted cereal bittersweet note to begin with and this is quickly joined by plenty of caramel and vanilla.  The sweetness then develops in to notes of butterscotch and dried fruits (imagine raisins, figs, sultanas and candied orange) with some milk chocolate also coming through.  However, there are increasingly bitter notes that threaten to over ride the sweetness - think of the toasted almonds and walnuts from the nose again, plus some cocoa powder and instant coffee.  These are backed up by warming cinnamon and plenty of nutmeg.

The finish seems shorter than expected, especially once the sweet caramel and dried fruit notes have gone.  This leaves the bittersweet malt, warming woody spices, toasted nuts and orange characteristics to fade, which makes it slightly bitter and mouth watering.

What's the verdict?
The Dalmore 21 years old shows a lighter side to Dalmore that we have rarely seen before.  The distillery is well known for its rich whiskies and predominant use of ex-sherry casks, but here the whisky has only been finished in these casks.  The majority of the time spent in the ex-American oak casks must have contributed to this lighter and slightly spicier than expected feel.

The whisky also fills a gap in the Dalmore range both age-wise and price-wise.  The addition of this, plus the 30 years old expression, means there is something for everyone in terms of budget and choice.  The 21 years old is a pleasant and easy drinking whisky that shows something different from Dalmore.


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Scott said...

Really nice aromas and very pleasing on the palate. For this age I think this is a very good whisky.

Robert said...

Very well balanced dram, between the oak and the sherry. spiced honey then coffee, nutmeg. much better than many 21yo sherried whiskies that i have tried.

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