The Dalmore stands proudly on the banks of the Cromarty Firth, deep in the Scottish Highlands. This distillery has a long history and makes some of the best crams around.
It has won many awards for its products and rare expressions have sold for upwards of £100,000. They have a distinct range with some incredibly interesting and tasty drams.
The youngest of their range is the 12 year old. This expression has long been passed down from the Mackenzie Brothers, particularly Andrew Mackenzie, who was one of the first to mature Whisky for longer than six years.
Half of this spirit has been martured in Bourbon barrels, with the other half separated into Gonzalez Byass Matusalem oloroso sherry casks. This lends a depth of flavour and a wide selection of tastes in the resulting product.
The nose opens with lots of different aromas and spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice give it a warm, hearty kick from the very beginning.
These are joined by rich chocolate and dried fruits such as raisin and figs, with a great dose of citrus at the forefront.
The citrus provides a refreshing tang against the dusty spices and settles in well beside the chocolate notes.
On the palate these flavours are developed and become deeper, with a lot more sherry notes. The warmth of the spices is still there and fills the mouth.
The mouth feel is smooth and rich, with creamy chocolate coming through again. The oak of the barrel is also present with a sweet vanilla flavour in the background.
The linger on the 12 year old is delicate, with a slight hint of bitter coffee and dark chcoalte. It is smooth and easy going, rounded off a great dram perfectly.
Next in the Dalmore family we have a 15 year old and is referred to as the “epitome of the Dalmore house style”. It is a wonderful dram that fully captures exactly how good the Dalmore is.
This dram has been matured in white American oak casks for 12 years before being finished for a further 3 years in moroso, Apostoles and Matusalem oloroso sherry casks.
This expression as a nose full of fruits and spice. It is like a clove covered orange bobbing in spicy sherry.
There is a slight tang and sweetness to the orange and it ties in well with the rich spices.
The orange notes continue into the palate, where they are kicked into life by a dash of vanilla. The citrusy tang of lemon peel also makes an appearance as a background note.
Again, spices are ever present, this time with a nice bit of ginger. The cinnamon bark of the nose develops into a sweeter vanilla note that recalls the oak of the barrel.
In the background alongside the lemon there is a slight caramel and marzipan flavour that bolsters the sweetness of the vanilla.
The oranges and cloves of the nose and once again brought back by the finish, which lingers just long enough to be fully appreciate.
Building on the brilliance of the 15 year old, the 18 year old is the next in the Dalmore range.
Like the others before it, this malt has been matured in two separate casks. It was initially matured for 14 years in white American oak casks and finished for 4 more years in 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry butts.
This makes for an incredible rich and interesting dram that is complex and refined.
The flavours of both barrels can be detected throughout, right from the beginning of the nose. The oak seeps out and is can be found in a sweet vanilla note.
This vanilla becomes thicker and has a slight spice to it. There is also a wonderful orange tang, with candied peels and caramel.
There are also a number of dried fruit flavours coming through, with plenty of raisins and apricots.
Figs and dates are also present smothered in thick chocolate.
This is even more present on the palate, where the chocolate takes the lead and gives over a smooth and soft mouth feel.
The dried fruits and orange peel also become more pronounced and fully formed, only this time with a bitter delight of dark coffee.
The coffee and chocolate go hand in hand, with the chocolate adding a nice sweetness to the espresso bite.
These continue into the finish where they wrap up all the flavours into a wonderful parcel and linger just long enough to be appreciated.
The oldest of the core Dalmore range is an exquisite 25 year old that has been matured in American white oak and finished in rare hand-sourced 25 year old sweet Palomino Fino sherry butts and 1980 first fill bourbon casks.
This makes for a deep and sophisticated dram that is smooth and well rounded.
There is a dark sweetness to this expression, with burnt brown sugar and warm treacle. These flavours work with a nutty marzipan and toasted hazelnut and pecans.
The sweetness is joined by a delicate fruity flavour full of tangerines and melons that give a nice, fresh tone.
On the palate the treacle thickens and lends a great mouth feel. There is a liquorice and aniseed flavour as well that is earthy and ties in well with the sweetness.
After this a tangy and spicy orange tone is introduced, which goes perfectly well with the milk chocolate and coffee.
The palate is well developed and full of flavour. These are carried along into the finish, which lasts long and has a final tang of coffee and chocolate.
The penultimate expression in the Dalmore range is the Cigar Malt Reserve, which is exactly what it says on the tin and is ideal for those who love a wonderfully smooth cigar.
This dram is craft from some fantastic Whisky, which is then poured into American oak casks and then 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry butts. After this it is given the final touch in premier cru Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques.
Like a fine cigar, this dram is spicy and fruity, with deep earthy tones. The nose recalls a leathery library with mahogany shelves and dusty volumes.
Above this is a cinnamon dusted, fruit basket of flavours, with red apples and cherries.
Marzipan sweetens the nose and carries through into the palate where it is joined by banana and vanilla.
These flavours have depth and the oak of the barrel really comes through here. This dram is rich and refined, with lots of character.
The vanilla has a slight cinnamon spice and ties in well with the fruits of the nose. These are joined by citrus fruits with lots of orange and lemon peel.
These continue into the palate with a long linger and lots of flavour to wrap up completely.
The final expression in the Dalmore range is the King Alexander III, called after the King who first allowed clan Mackenzie to use the 12-point stag on their crest, after clan chief Colin saved his life.
This exceptional malt has been brought together from six different cask finishes. Six spirits have been matured in ex-bourbon casks, Matusalem oloroso sherry butts, Madeira barrels, Marsala casks, Port pipes and Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques.
The nose of this expression is like a walk in an orchard measdow, filled with rosy apples and pears and flower blossom.
There is a wonderful earthy tone to this dram that points towards ripe fruit and abundant flowers.
The palate takes these and surrounds them with thick caramel and citrus tang. The flavours each pays out on its own and they work in harmony with each other.
This is an incredibly interesting dram and it is exceptionally smooth as a result of the time spent maturing in such a wide variety of casks.
The oak of the barrels comes through, in a vanilla sweetness that has a subtle undertone of cinnamon.
This spice grows into the finish, where is takes over from the floral notes and warms as it moves on. The finish is a wonderful wrap up of excellent flavours.
The King Alexander III is an amazing dram and the time spent in casks can be fully experienced in just one sip.