First, let’s establish something. I get sent samples, sometimes, and my first thought is “Yay! A new whisky to try!” and my second thought is “Yay! Another week’s blog post that I don’t have to buy whisky for!” Advertising on the blog pays for my whisky, yes, but what it does not pay for is a new bottle every week. Far from it. So once in awhile you, dear reader, get to put up with a review of something you’re never likely to see on a shelf. Them’s the breaks.
So here’s a weirdo. Dalmore, in my mind, means two things: Heavy sherry, and orange-peel notes. This independently-bottled Dalmore from The Exclusive Malts was distilled in 2000 as cask #6952 and bottled in 2013 at 53.5% ABV. And it’s peated. What?!
The color is super pale – nearly clear – which implies a refill bourbon cask. It’s possible this was a cask that previously held peated whisky, but I can’t find any details online. Some way or some how, a good whollop of peat found its way into this distinctly un-sherried Dalmore.
Nose: Peat, but integrated well with vanilla and saltwater taffy. Hot-smoked salmon, bitter herbs, white pepper. Lavender.
Palate: Somewhat thin body. Barbeque coal smoke, fresh-cracked pepper, blackened salmon. Very low tongue-burn for something at 53.5% ABV.
Finish: Long. Herbal and smoky, lavender especially. Mildly bitter, but ends on a sweet vanilla note.
With Water: A few drops of water mute the nose, or supplant the usual aromas with alcohol fumes. The palate might be softer, and carries more tart notes – white vinegar? I would avoid the water here, unless you feel you need to dilute it to bottle-strength (I don’t think it needs dilution).
Overall: There’s a lot going on in this one. It seems that Dalmore’s house characteristics are solely derived from its sherry aging, because I would not be able to identify this as Dalmore if it weren’t for the label. It does have a Highland drift to the peat; instead of piquant smoke and overt seaweed, the peat is herbal and reminds me of cooking aromas. A truly unusual take on both Dalmore malt AND Highland peated whisky. Well done.
I won’t personally be buying a bottle of this, but I can see how a fan of The Dalmore (who wants to see a new side of the distillery), or someone who appreciates alternative styles of peated malt would really enjoy this malt, even at the hefty price of $99. This is a cautious “Recommended”, if only for the education.