Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Dalmore. This in no case, by our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the purchase link at the bottom of this review, our site receives a small referral payment which helps support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Scottish Highland distillery The Dalmore made headlines last year in the premium whiskey market. First, he released five-bottle collector sets called The Dalmore Decades that fetched over a quarter million dollars each at auction (he sold 15 sets in total). Then he announced a new 30-year annual expression of his single malt, at a suggested price of $5,500 a bottle.
These are interesting releases for collectors, and testify to The Dalmore’s long history and interest in pushing the boundaries of what is possible for Scottish single malts. But let’s be honest: most of us won’t get our hands on these bottles in our lifetime.
The Dalmore 15 Year Old Single Malt, on the other hand, is no unicorn bottle. You can find it at state-controlled liquor stores in my home state of Oregon for $129.95 a bottle. Most likely, you can find it in your state as well.
My brother and I knocked over a bottle of The Dalmore 12 while on a family holiday on the coast a few years ago, and remember appreciating both the artistry of the bottle – with the silver deer head on the in front – and the whiskey inside. So the opportunity to put his 15-year-old brother to the test immediately appealed to me.
The Dalmore 15 was aged for a dozen years in ex-bourbon casks, then split into three batches which were aged an additional three years of finishing in different types of sherry casks. One of the finished batches in Amoroso barrels, one in Apostoles barrels and one in Matusalem Oloroso barrels. All batches were then mixed in a sherry butt for the final version.
Tasting notes: Dalmore 15 Year Old Single Malt
Vital Stats: Mash bec 100% malted barley, aged 15 years; 80 degrees/40% alcohol by volume; MSRP of $129.95 for a 750ml bottle.
Appearance: A nice hazelnut color, with decent legs holding onto the side of the glass.
Nose: If you’re expecting a typical scotch, this will quickly put you on your heels. It’s sweet and fruity, reminiscent of red wine, Cherry Coke, sticky caramel candies and red gummy bears. The sherry is unquestionably dominant here.
Palace: As with the nose, you might be surprised if you expect traditional Scottish notes. This single malt has the zest of a ginger beer, and an undeniable sense of red wine (and sherry). It’s round, fruity and dark, like you’re drinking a fruity California Cabernet. The finish is sweet and reminiscent of one of those milk chocolate oranges you sometimes find in your stockings during the holidays: creamy, sweet and chocolaty, with just a hint of citrus.