Dalmore comes in one hell of a cool bottle. The golden stag is in fact taken from the clan crest of the Mackenzies, who once owned the distillery. The bottle was a "welcome to fatherhood" gift from a good friend who is a registered Mackenzie clansman, as well as a fellow whisky aficionado and parent of a one year old. So then, this gracious gift hits on all cylinders: we spread the word of Clan Mackenzie and "their" single malt, I sample a great bottle, and perhaps most importantly, I ease the sting of these interminable middle of the night feedings and diaper changes. (Don't let anyone kid you...parenthood has its joys, but also has its pains.)
Dalmore 12 is aged primarily in American white oak, and finished in Oloroso sherry casks. The mix of woods is identical more than one whisky I've had before (Oban's excellent distiller's edition comes to mind), yet the profile is quite a bit different from what I might have expected. I sometimes think the wood makes such a difference in a malt's profile that I forget there are many other factors! Rather than exhibiting the delicate, lighter notes I've come to associate with Oloroso casks, Dalmore instead is tannic and chewy. There is lots of burnt toffee and some fruit flavors, mild hints of orange and raisin, but I find that oak and spice dominate. This is a nice blend of flavors then: burnt toffee sweetness, mild fruit and stronger spices mingling over a strong oak background.
Dalmore is bottled at only %40, and not chill filtered, though I must say, it does have a nice full mouthfeel. Another reviewer described the texture as oily, and I think that's perfect. The Dalmore sticks to the tongue in a very pleasant way, and has quite a long finish. The tannic flavors and thick texture suggest to me that this is a great malt for a cool afternoon or evening, perhaps mid Spring or Fall. Not quite a smoky winter dram, but not either a light, sweet Glenmorangie for the summer. Others' mileage may vary, of course...I can't fathom smoke in the summertime, but to each their own.
Score: 85 Something a hair different from a lot of what's out there these days, and a great malt for the Spring and Fall. I can't help wondering how pleasantly thick this malt could be though, if it were offered without the chill filtering.
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