When I first started enjoying scotch, Dalmore wasn’t a name I was familiar with. When you go into your local liquor store, which isn’t going to have a huge selection of scotch, you see a lot of the same names. Many of them are owned by spirits conglomerates like Diageo (Johnnie Walker, Oban, Talisker, Lagavulin, Glenkinchie) or Pernod Ricard (Glenlivet, Aberlour, Chivas Regal).
Dalmore is owned by a conglomerate, albeit a smaller one, named Whyte and Mackay. I’m a fan of another single malt in their lineup, Jura, and Dalmore is a distillery I’ve come to admire in the years since disclvoering it.
The latest one I’ve tried is Dalmore Mackenzie, a “tribute to Clan Mackenzie.” It’s matured in American white oak for 11 years and then finish in port pipes from Oporto for six years. In all, it spends 17 years maturing in oak.
What separates the Mackenzie from other scotches finished in port is how long it spends in port pipes – six years (and it’s a limited edition). Most scotches with finishes like this only spend a few years. Of course, more doesn’t necessarily mean better… so what’s it like?
- Color: Rich amber.
- Nose: Dry fruit, like out of trail mix, and a rich sweetness.
- Taste: Strong (46% abv) with a full body, fruitiness that you’d expect from finishing in port pipes, and a richness and warmth.
- Finish: That warmth and richness follows through and the overall sweet fruitiness persists. Not a lot of oak, I think the port finish covers that up but gives it that warmth.
The sad part is that it’s limited edition, only 3,000 were made in 2010 (I’m fortunate to have been sent a small sampling — yes, this post is way overdue), because it’s really nice if you enjoy port finishes.
Dalmore is a distillery I’ve become very familiar with, and fond of, as a result of a variety of samples that their PR company has sent me. I was familiar with the name because of the notoriety of “The Nose,” Richard Paterson, and his blog; but it wasn’t something I’d sampled often. That said, I was a fan of their Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve, a smokier rich scotch that would most certainly go well with a cigar. I knew that trying out their Dalmore 18 would be a most positive experience. I was not mistaken.
Dalmore 18 has a very rich amber color that isn’t as dark as a Macallan 18 but pretty close. It’s matured in American white oak for 14 years followed by three years in Matusalem Spanish sherry butts for three years. It’s final year is spent in “upstanding sherry butts,” which I’m not really sure what “upstanding” means (very well behaved barrels?) Either way, what comes out is quite remarkable.
My nose is a little under the weather so I can’t really tell too much outside of a slight scent of almonds and toffee. On the palate, the first note that rings out is that of citrus, one of my favorites when it comes to scotch. There’s a slight hint of sweetness, accentuated by the orange peel citrusy flavor (think the smell a few seconds after you zest an orange, the smell that lingers in the air), but it’s by no means “sweet.” It’s got a bit of a spiciness, similar to but much less in prominence as is in Glenlivet 12, but the finish is mostly caramel and marzipan.
For my next trip to the store, I’m probably going to pick up one of these.
There are expensive bottles of scotch… and then there are expensive bottles of scotch you could actually buy (well, if you had two hundred grand). When it comes to the most expensive scotches, they’re usually extremely rare and not available in stores.
This is the most expensive bottle available in a retail store, in this case it was the duty free shop in Singapore’s Changi Airport. This bottle was available in 2002 for $39,000; making the $200,000 sale price an appreciation that beats the stock market quite handily. There were, of course, only 12 of these bottles ever produced.
This breaks the previous retail record of $188,000 set just three months ago in London for a bottle of Dalmore 64.
Very shortly, Dalmore will be releasing the Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve for sale in the United States at around $125 a bottle. In working with their fine PR folks, I was sent a sampling of the spirit before it was available to the public (which is the basis of the tasting notes below) and the spirit lives up to its namesake. Scotch and cigars have always been a fine combination but it usually takes a heartier spirit (or a weaker cigar… but who opts for that!?) to match up to the richness of a tightly bound cigar. The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve was put together with that in mind and I believe it delivers.
The Cigar Malt Reserve is nearly the same rich dark copper/amber color as the Dalmore Mackenzie and slightly darker than both the Dalmore Gran Reserva and the Dalmore 15 Year Old. On the nose it’s sweet dry fruit, mostly raisin, some caramel and even a bit of syrup & butterscotch. It tastes just like it smells with a hint more of honey. No strong peat or smoke, you’ll probably get enough of that when paired with a cigar, and it has a full body that really awakens the palate. There s a little bite on the finish. I didn’t try this dram with a cigar but I imagine it pairs well with one.
Philosophically, I was surprised that Dalmore went to the sweeter, honey side of the flavor profile when building a dram to pair with a cigar – but it makes sense. Pairing is often about accentuating the positives, not letting one aspect dominate another or in dominating one particular flavor profile; they’ve succeeded in creating a dram that uses sweet fruitiness to balance out the smoky tobacco richness of a cigar.
If you don’t smoke cigars, this dram works quite well on its own if you are a fan of scotches that don’t have a lot of peat smoke character. If smokiness is a requisite quality you need in scotch, this one won’t fit that bill.
Update: I had it again the other night (about a month after I first tried it) and my impressions this time were much different. There was still the familiar rich sweetness of butterscotch and raisins, but I got a distinct smokiness I didn’t get before. The oak was also quite strong, which was nice, and there was a definite sea salt flavor mixed in. It reminded me of ocean spray, that salty air. I should warn that I tasted it after eating some mint ice cream about a half hour beforehand, so it might have muddled my palate a bit.
Dalmore had three bottles of its Dalmore 64 Trinitas and has sold two of them. The Dalmore 64 Trinitas has a price of £100,000/€113,510 each, or approximately $156,980 USD as I type this and only one bottle is left. The first buyer was American collector Mahesh Patel, who claims to have over 1,000 bottles in his collection. It’s unclear who purchase the second but the third was reserved for The Whisky Show 2010 in late October (you buy tickets to the show and a winner will get to sample some!).
Curious about the notes for the 64 Trinitas? Well, first of all they took a mix of their blends from 1868, 1878, 1926 and 1939 vintages that make up the Dalmore 62 and blended it with a vintage from the 1940s. The end result is an absurd Dalmore 64 Trinitas.
From the Independent: Continue reading