2014 was an exciting year at Whyte and Mackay, owners of the Dalmore, Jura, Tamnavulin and Fettercairn distilleries. Following the sale of India’s United Sprints to Diageo and the antitrust regulator’s demand that Diageo not hold on to W&M the company went into months of uncertainty. Last May, W&M was sold to Emperador, a brandy producer from the Philippines in one piece, despite rumors that Diageo might keep Dalmore and Tamnavulin to itself. Sadly, that probably means that the whisky will continue to be presented below its potential – which can be glimpsed in the tasting, but not quite gotten to.
As you can see on the spirit still on the left, it has a water jacket, designed to increase reflux and produce a more refined spirit. It’s then aged in mostly first fill ex bourbon casks, and in the special variety of sherry casks only Dalmore has, Matusalem Oloroso from Gonzalez Byass, as well as other types of sherry butts. The Dalmore “house style” is a sherried whisky, and the 12 year old is a 1:1 mix of those two types of barrel.
An interesting fact about Dalmore is that over the past few years, peated whisky has been produced at the distillery, and quite possibly we’ll get to see a peated expression in the future. It might be quite spectacular with their sherry casks (especially if a miracle happens and it gets presented non chill filtered at 46% and with a light hand on the E-150a).
Dalmore 12 (40%)
Appearance: Bronze (Albeit artificial), quick and thick legs.
Nose: Starts with a vegetal note on the nose, dissolving into some sherry and orange. Some time brings out raisins and dried fruit, namely prunes and apricots with a slight fruit brandy note. Throughout, the malt is very present. Just a hint of dusty sherry plays with the nose after some time in the glass.
Palate: Oily and bitter, with sherry sweetness laid over it. Mouth drying with spices along the middle of the tongue and a dry feeling on the inside of the cheeks.
Linger: Spice at the back of the throat, with milk chocolate and sherry on the back part of the tongue. A lot of residual sweetness on the tongue in a very dry finish.
Dalmore frustrates me. On the one hand, it’s an under performing distillery as far as the core range goes. On the other, it has a whisky that ages gracefully, which explains its ability to command very high and record setting prices for old and rare expressions.
The 12 year old has flavor, and has a real potential that’s just beyond the drinker. Did I mention my frustration?