Monday, November 23, 2015

Whisky Review: Prime Malt Dailuaine 10 Year

Prime Malt is brand of the independent bottler Gordon Bonding Co, which may have some connection to Duncan Taylor. Whatever the provenance, they released a number of very reasonably priced single malts during the early-2000s that never seem to have grabbed much attention. The plain labels, relatively low bottling proof, and complete lack of name recognition might have something to do with that. But a few are still available and still cheap. I was able to pick up this bottle from Binny's during my last order before they stopped shipping.

Dailuaine is a distillery that I have not had too much experience with, which is unsurprising as very little of its output is bottled as single malt. It's another distillery in Diageo's vast stable that exists primarily to provide stock for its blends. However, I have been able to sample an old SMWS Dailuaine that was very, very good and I have nominally tried it as part of Compass Box's Oak Cross blended malt. But, as I said, very limited experience. This particular bottle gives very little information, stating only that it was aged in 'oak casks', which likely means a refill ex-bourbon hogshead, since that's usually the default in these cases. Either way, it's bottled at 43%, likely without coloring given the pale hue and possibly without chill filtration since I can see some sediment if I give the bottle a shake.

Prime Malt Dailuaine 10 Year

Nose: lots of clean fresh malt, light notes of apple and pear, orange peel, a touch of vanilla, some floral character, a little musky or oily. After adding a few drops of water, the malt character shifts into a grainier mode, but is otherwise largely unchanged.

Taste: clean malt up front with mild sweetness, gentle floral, apple/pear, grape, orange peel, and berry notes appear around the middle, light oak at the back. After dilution, the sweet malt becomes thicker, somewhat washing out the berry notes in the middle.

Finish: clean malt sweetness, very mild oak, fruit and berry esters, biscuit-y, light but lingering floral notes

This is an uncomplicated but enjoyable single malt. Nothing fancy, but nothing wrong. Surprising for its age, it does gain a bit more depth and complexity after sitting in the glass for a while, but even that has its limits. I'd also skip the water, since that seems to rob it of whatever complexity it has in favor of straight-forward malt.

Good, clean spirit appears to have been filled into casks with just enough extractives left to rub off any rough edges without imparting too much wood character. The bottling strength is just enough to give it a bit of weight without too much alcohol heat, making it for me better than many entry-level malts that are simply too tepid at 40%. The closest easily available whisky like this would be Glenmorangie Original, though that is more oak-heavy given Bill Lumsden's well-known focus on casks. And as with all Prime Malt releases in the US, the price is right, especially in the current climate - this is under $40 and would be my pick over any number of comparably priced single malts from Glenfiddich or Glenlivet. While there are only a few stores with this left, if you happen to run into it, I would highly recommend grabbing a bottle.

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