You can say what you want about the slick marketing and the exclusive image that The Dalmore have created for themselves.
You can say what you want about their flamboyant master blender, Richard ‘The Nose’ Paterson.
You can say what you want about their special releases that help to perpetuate their own image.
You cannot, however, deny that they have found their own corner of the market and know exactly how to play to their strengths.
From the large framed pictures that greet you at the distillery, to the 12 pointed stag that features prominently on their bottles everything is designed to give the product that unique and exclusive look and feel.
Their latest releases, The Dalmore 21 and The Dalmore 30 are already expected to sell out in a matter of weeks, such is the demand for the product.
Drawn to its beautiful (but somewhat unnatural colour) and its sharp looking packaging I purchased a bottle from the distillery.
(side note: If you get a chance to visit the distillery then you should take it. The location is breath taking, the distillery itself is interesting to look around, the staff are knowledgeable and friendly (side note 2, they were so friendly in fact, that since it was my birthday when I visited they were very generous with their samples) and the warehouse is a thing of beauty. Truly an Aladdin’s cave of every size and shape of barrel you can think of. You can almost imaging Mr Paterson himself rummaging around, looking for that perfect cask)
Putting this all aside, how does the whisky taste?
The Dalmore 15 year old. 40% abv (available here)
The colour is very rich and dark, no secret that colouring has been added.
On the nose there is marmalade, winter spices, light aromas of tobacco and faint butterscotch. The palate is very balanced and smooth. zesty orange combines with rasins soaked in sweet tea and almost an essence of leather. The finish leaves a soft lingering aftertaste of orange infused dark chocolate, muscovado sugar, cloves and spice.
One downside is that being bottled at 40% it lacks a little punch but I suppose that’s how it helps to retain its smooth feel.
Having tried the 12 and the 15 year old expressions I can say that the difference in quality, flavour and smoothness is one of the biggest I have encountered between similar expressions from the same distillery. I’d say the upgrade in age statements is well worth it. (not to say the 12 is a bad dram, its still a good solid whisky)
I can think of so many reasons that I shouldn’t like The Dalmore. Its exclusivity, its slick marketing hype, the chill filtration and added colouring for a start.
I know this whisky isn’t a favourite amongst whisky purists and has attracted mixed (and polarising) reviews, however I can’t help but like it.
I may get some negative comments for this, but I just like the way it tastes.