Review: Dalmore 40 year old

Dalmore for many whisky enthusiasts is a secret passion. Yeah, we can all joke about the issue of adding artificial colouring to their whiskies and the influence of Richard Patterson on its output, but it all comes down to the tasting experience. 

The Dalmore brand and accompanying design are impressive and their pursuit of the high-end blue chip market, an unfortunate hobby of the whisky industry today. The end result is that a sizeable chunk of Dalmore’s are out of reach of the modest, modern man, or woman. I’m not much different, but whenever I have tasted a Dalmore, I’ve been more than not impressed, or satisfied, and visiting the distillery is a must-do for anyone in my book. 

Having family in the Alness area, this is one of my adopted local distilleries along with Balblair, Glenmorangie and slightly further north the glorious Clynelish and Brora. A picturesque setting, a wonderful balance has been struck between modern facilities and keeping the essence of history and tradition at the distillery. Standing at Dalmore, gazing at the Cromarty Firth and the buildings on the shoreline this could be a setting from any era in the last 100 years.

Recently I’ve been enjoying the excellent ‘The Whisky Men’ from Gavin D. Smith, which thoroughly recommend to anyone with an interest in the dram and its history – information and knowledge that we are losing as the years pass by. Within its 276 pages of tales are several snippets concerning Dalmore and the recollections of former employees. Nuggets of information such as the Dalmore had its own peat bog at Strath Morie, near Ardross, and the malt was grown locally. Times may have changed, whether for the better is always a debate, but this 40 year old will take us back to at least the early 1970’s and perhaps remnants of these old ways. It will certainly incorporate the Saladin box which was used at the distillery until 1982 and maybe a smoky edge that these older distilled Highland expressions seem to retain.

Distillery: Dalmore
Age: at least 40 years old
Casks: combination of American white oak, Amoroso and Matusalem sherry casks
Strength: 40%      
Price: far too much

Colour: worn leather sofa

Nose: salted caramel, popcorn, dark chocolate almost decadent and luxurious in its feel, sultanas and a touch of peppermint. Delving deeper coffee, the anise essence of tarragon, more all spice before rounding off with that refined quality an aged malt as can only possess.

Taste: baked figs, cigar, rolled tobacco more luxurious smells; muscavado sugar, more sweetness with thick sticky treacle, a little sherry and a meaty savoury quality to it all.

A distinctive malt, gentle and extremely refined. Well crafted and conceived, but something truly fantastic? No, actually you can pick up younger Dalmore's that almost offer the same experience. Still, a memorable experience even if it is over-engineered, but give me the Deanston 1974 Oloroso sherry cask anytime instead.

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