The Spirit of The Dalmore (For the U.S. Only!)
Highland distillery The Dalmore may be best known for its exceptional malt whiskies that carry extra-long barrel-aging. But a new (can you even call it) “young” whisky, produced exclusively for the U.S., delivers the superb flavor, nuance, and enjoyment of tradition in a decidedly accessible bottle.
The industry-representing Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) officially recognizes five distinct regions in Scotland for whisky-making.
These include the Lowlands, a southern “terroir” generally noted for softer, smoother, more floral malt whiskies; Campbeltown, a coastal southwestern region known for a having “sea-kissed” flavor profile in its spirits; the island of Islay, home to those heavily-peated, smokey expressions of malt whisky we all know and appreciate; and Speyside, the smallest whisky region, which is actually home to the largest density of single-malt distilleries (many of them the ubiquitous “hits” you think of when you think of Scotch).
The origin of the brand’s stag’s head symbol dates back to a story from the Dark Ages about the chief of Clan Mackenzie saving King Alexander III from the fury of rushing antlers and clan descendants becoming owners of the distillery itself, located just north of Inverness, in 1867.
The Dalmore quickly became noted for an almost religious dedication to the art (and science) of whisky cask finishing. In fact, an exclusive century-plus relationship with the Spanish oloroso sherry house of Gonzalez Byass has arguably made the distillery the ne plus ultra in sherry-finishing, lending a rich, nutty/chocolate/citrus-y nature and deep color to the best of the brand’s spirits.
The Dalmore is notable for releasing exceptionally longer-aged spirits, including rare 25, 30, and even 45-year-old expressions that can go for thousands of dollars. That is, if you can find them (some of those “yeti” bottles are pictured here in photography from a Watchonista-exclusive tasting session). But a new 14-year-old aging, produced exclusively for the U.S. market (a first for The Dalmore), delivers the essence and gravitas of the famed distiller for under $100.
Finished in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks from Gonzalez Byass, the new whisky marks an interesting new mid-point in the maker’s Principal Collection, which ranges from 12 to 25-year-old malts (as well as additional special-casking iterations and reserve versions). Under the loving attention of Master Whisky Maker Gregg Glass, the very best sherry casks were selected to deliver a new unique sunniness and intense sweetness to the 14-year-old.
However, the heritage notes of light citrus, along with deeper licorice and caramel flavors marking a fine malt, melt into a very smooth gumbo of fig, date, and even a kind of American maple syrup-y finish that make this potion particularly appealing to U.S. drinkers.
Grab the Deer by the Antlers
Bottled at 43.8% ABV, about 87-proof, and carrying a bright pinkish-purple label and cap that might be described as “California cool,” The Dalmore 14-year-old scored an enviable 94 points at the 2022 Ultimate Spirits Challenge.