Ahhhh, it’s nice to be back in front of the computer writing for fun. Not that all the writing we do isn’t fun, but there is something liberating about writing a piece for this site which doesn’t require a word count nor a deadline!
Recently you may have noticed a slight, erm, scarcity to the level of posts we’ve been penning. Never one to shirk away from our duties, our eyes, hands, ears and, most importantly, taste buds have been kept busy in a different direction, finishing off a book (a proper physical one with paper pages and everything) due out next year and meddling with this wee beast: www.3dwhisky.com
But here we are again, back in the game and ready to bring you some tasty wee morsels in the lead up to Christmas.
And a bloomin’ good job too as the samples are piling up on our desk here at Caskstrength HQ. So, what better way than to kick this week off with than a new release from Whyte & Mackay.
As I sat down to write this piece, my inbox pinged with news from leading drinks industry fact-mongers Just-Drinks. It informed me (and the rest of the world, too) of what Diageo, now ‘owners’ of Whyte & Mackay, were planning to do with the host of whisky brands acquired since their take over earlier in the year of then Indian-owned United Spirits.
Until everything is confirmed about who the parent company will eventually be in this liquid custody battle, refereed by the Office of Fair Trading, the folk over at W&M have been busy expanding their core range of The Dalmore, adding to the already existing 12, 15, 18, Cigar Malt Reserve and excellent King Alexander III (our personal fav) with a 25 year old offering.
We first tried this new release about two week ago when the sample arrived in our office. Dave Broom had popped in to say hello ahead of the annual IWSC dinner where he was to be bestowed with his much deserved Communicator of the Year award (well done, Dave), but we didn’t get a chance to really sit with the whisky, take notes and savour the whole experience, so we were looking forward to a quite time when we could really relax and give this new experssion our full attention.
So what of theliquid? Well, once fresh from the stills, this Dalmore was matured in American white oak casks before being divided into Palomino Fino sherry butts and first-fill bourbon casks. Once matured, the whiskies were married together once again into bourbon barrels before finally being transferred into Tawny Port pipes from Portugal.
Quite the international journey for a humble Scottish spirit! It sounds complicated, but nowhere near as complex as the King Alexander, which is a blend of Dalmore matured in French wine casks, Madeira drums, Sherry butts, Marsala barrels, Port pipes and Bourbon barrels. Over complicated? Not in the case of the King Alex, but let’s see how the 25 year old fares...
Nose: Toffee fudge is the first note to rise from the glass, followed by some marzipan and strong bergamot. These orange notes develop in a rich marmalade smothered on hot toast. With a hint of water tropical fruits come through.
Palate: Rich and rounded, the bergamot flavours take the driving seat with burnt sugar, toasted almonds and a hint of black pepper and cinnamon spices on top. Very rich mouthfeel With water the whisky opens up a little to give all the previous flavoured a much more rounded and sweet tone. Personal preference, at the risk of being chastised by The Dalmore’s Richard Paterson himself, is with ever such a small drop of H2O.
Finish: The spices and dried orange peel tingle away at the back, but with water this is rounded off for a more subtle, quite frankly, delicious.
Overall: A unanimous decision here in the Caskstrength office that this is, wait for it, “a really excellent whisky”. A great way to get us back in the swing of things, as we head towards the prime whisky drinking time of Christmas and the New Year.