Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Whisky Review: Dalmore 12 Year (2018)

Dalmore is something of an odd duck in the industry. It was one of the earlier players to really push the 'premiumization' of their brand, heavily focusing on building a sense that it was a luxury product from top to bottom. Unfortunately this has come at the expense of their core lineup, which has been watered down and generally seems to have become an afterthought as they chase higher and higher headline prices for their one-offs.

This whisky was aged in ex-bourbon casks for nine years, half is transferred to sherry casks for three years, then blended back with the fully matured bourbon casks and bottled at 40% with coloring and chill filtration.

I purchased this sample from Dramtime.

Dalmore 12 Year (2018)

Nose: somewhat rubbery sherry initially that resolves into something more pleasant with time, raisins, raspberry/strawberry, peach, banana, orange peel, fresh creamy malt, vanilla, floral, mild oak. After adding a few drops of water the sherry gets brighter but also kind of dank (yes, that makes no sense, but whatever), something grassy/herbal emerges along with nougat/baking spices, and the fresher/maltier notes mostly fade.

Taste: bittersweet sherry starts up front, turning more bitter with mixed citrus peel around the middle, rhubarb and oak tannins at the back, clean malt underneath everything. After dilution it becomes less bitter up front with brighter sherry, there's more oak starting around the middle, but also starts to feel watery and the back end has some odd vegetal bitterness.

Finish: almost amaro bitterness, pleasant oak, cocoa powder, sherry/raisin residue, fresh creamy malt

This was significantly better than I expected. Dalmore doesn't get a lot of love in the enthusiast community, but for an entry level bottle there's a fair bit going on here. It's very much a modern dram, especially in terms of the sherry impact. I'm most surprised by the bitterness of the flavors, which was not the candied dram I thought I was in for. It's a different twist on a standard sherry-driven whisky and something of a departure from Macallan, which feels like its closest competitor.

On the downside, definitely hold the water. Most of what I liked in the aromas mostly fell through and the flavors became watery, so anything gained by dilution is swamped by the downsides. Makes me wonder what their spirit could do with craft presentation, but I'll have to wait and see what my full strength Duncan Taylor Dalmore is like.

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