Somehow in all of this I've neglected to say much about Dalmore's history. Founded in the late-19th century, it rapidly expanded production. There was a major hiccup when the British navy used the grounds for manufacturing mines, which led to an explosion that nearly destroyed the distillery. Another major expansion during the 1960s put Dalmore in the upper tier of malt distilleries, which laid the foundation for them to become a major player both in single malts and as a component of Whyte & Macky's blends. Their ever-flamboyant master blender Richard Patterson was instrumental in their turn towards increasingly expensive malts, leading to ever more eye-watering prices for special releases.
This whisky is part of their less exalted core lineup and was aged in a combination of ex-bourbon and Matusalem sherry butts, then bottled at 43% with coloring and chill filtration.
I purchased this sample from Whiskysite.
Dalmore 18 Year (2018)
Nose: big, rich sherry, some sour new make notes, savory, cinnamon and baking spices, graham crackers, chocolate, vanilla, citrus peel/pineapple, floral notes underneath. After adding a few drops of water it becomes maltier and creamier, some honey and caramel come out, the oak gets a bit stronger and turns towards cedar notes, the floral notes move towards the foreground, and the new make is pushed towards the background.
Taste: sweet sherry with new make overtones and mixed berries up front, red wine sourness and new make-y notes with more berries around the middle, then a creamier/maltier fade out with lightly tannic oak and a touch of something floral at the back. After dilution the sherry fades a bit up front, the new make notes are not nearly as strong, and a little savory tannic bitterness comes out around the back.
Finish: floral overtones through, slightly sour sherry at the beginning, fading into creamy malt and nougat with sour sherry residue and dank mildly bitter oak, savory, building floral notes that linger
My first pass with this sample was really not good. Like, worse than their current 12 Year by a noticeable margin. It almost feels like the samples got switched, because this one comes off as a lot younger, albeit more sherry influenced. The second tasting was significantly better, which makes me think that something happened in the process of bottling this sample. For Dalmore's sake I really hope that a full bottle would be better.
I found it rather peculiar that this has so much sherry influence but so little oak. The two generally go hand in hand these days, so I'm curious what the casks were like before they were filled. Overall this is just very strange for a standard 18 year, bucking a lot of the expectations I have for how they're constructed, especially when they're aimed at non-enthusiast buyers.
17 hours ago