Review: Two Pure Malts – A Blair Athol and a Dalmore

Last weekend at the Spirit of Speyside:Distilled festival I had the opportunity to try several older whiskies courtesy of the McTears Auctioneers stand. I tried a few drams over the course of the afternoon so many thanks to Graeme who was running the stand for his patience and enthusiasm (and his tolerance – I hopefully didn’t outstay my welcome)


These may not have been a collection of the most exceptional whiskies ever bottled but it was massively interesting to try some of them. The 1963 Single Grain was very nice indeed and the Glenshiel had stood up surprisingly well.

I’ve always had a soft spot for pinch bottles of Dimple Haig as it was featured heavily as the original whisky of a certain James Bond 007 (first appeared in Moonraker, prior to that he was more of a Bourbon drinker, mainly Old Grandad. FYI I am talking about the original books, not the film adaptations)

I managed to take some brief notes on two expressions which will form the basis of this weeks review. Needless to say these are not commonly available but nothing you can’t find after a little auction hunting…

Blair Athol Pure Malt, OB, 8 y.o, 40%abv (auction only)


I’m taking an (badly) educated guess that this bottling dates from the mid 1980’s but if anyone can pinpoint an exact date then please do get in touch… So quite possibly a 1970’s distillate at a push.

On the nose there a wafts of green apple and butterscotch. There are some quite muted tropical fruits alongside sandalwood and touches of gentle tobacco. There is a very faint orange oil and some milk chocolate, all wrapped up in some vanilla pod with the faintest wisps of woodsmoke.

The palate is rather muted and feels quite thin. There are some vague spices and it feels ever so slightly nutty. When mixed with tae caramel notes its vaguely reminiscent of peanut brittle, but its certainly an undertone rather than anything else. A touch of butter here and there and perhaps even a little grassy note. Gets a little more woody as time goes on and some tannins appear.

A slight touch of ginger on the finish alongside a little oak and the distant woodsmoke that we found on the nose becomes more prominent in time. Not an expansive finish, as we end with touches of tea tannins and perhaps a little sprinkle of spice.

Not overly complex but rather drinkable.

Auction Value: Prices seem to range from around £50 – £100 depending on condition.


Dalmore Pure Malt, OB, 12 y.o, 40%abv (auction only)


Again I’m going to guess that this is a minimum of late 1970’s bottling as the alcohol is measured in proof rather than abv, a practice which ended in the UK on 1st January 1980. at 12 years old this puts the liquid as 1960’s distillate. Probably dates from the time Whyte & MacKay bought the Dalmore Distillery.

As before if anyone can confirm an exact date (or a more accurate date) please do get in touch.

The nose is a mix of hardwood and raisins. Tannic at times but with some vanilla and caramel underneath. An intriguing nose and exciting to try some old school Dalmore. Theres some decent chocolate notes and some softly spiced dark fruits. There is a faint warehouse-esque musty feeling here. Dunnagey?

Palate has some nice vanilla and some light butter, mixed with some apricots and some marmalade. Slight tang of old pennies make me think it is perhaps a little oxidised. Not brutally though, plenty of character left. Big hint of salted caramel and a whiff of smoke as we move to the finish.

Finish is quite dry and oaky, but not overly so. Again it is free of complication but some good, tasty notes here. Cigar ash and a sprinkle of spice round it off.

Auction Value: Prices seem to range from £150 – £350 depending on condition.

The Blair Athol was nice, fun to try but it is not going onto my shopping list. I’m rather intrigued to try more old school Dalmore however,


Here are few more images of some of the bottles I encountered at the McTears stand:


Find many more tasting notes and whisky news in the Amateur Drammers Archives.

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One comment

  1. Reblogged this on ilovewhisky and commented:
    Spot on with the Blair Atholl… especially the palate.

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