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Dalwhinnie distillery was founded in 1898 by John Grant of Grantown-on-Spey, George Sellar and Alexander Mackenzie, both of nearby Kingussie. They enlisted the renowned distillery architect Charles Doig to design the facility and invested around £10,000 of their money. They succeeded in getting the project off the ground but were in liquidation within a year.
The decades that followed saw regular changes in ownership before the distillery eventually found a permanent home with Diageo where it represents the central highlands in their classic malts range.
Dalwhinnie stands 1164 feet above sea level, making it the highest distillery in Scotland and leaving it at the mercy of some very temperamental weather. It is surrounded by some spectacular scenery which I was able to see for myself upon a recent visit there.
I arrived at Dalwhinnie in late June having previously admired it in passing. A closer look merely confirmed my initial impression that this was a fine-looking distillery, which must surely rank as one of the most attractive in the Highlands. Its whitewashed buildings are crowned by twin pagodas and sit in a wild and rugged landscape.
*Alas, photos were not allowed inside the distillery so all shots are external or inside the visitor centre.
Our tour guide Davy offered a warm welcome and provided an informative and entertaining look around the distillery. Afterwards, he led us back to the visitor centre to be greeted with an enticing lineup of six drams, each paired with a beautifully crafted chocolate from Iain Burnett. There were samples of Dalwhinnie the 15-year-old, the Distillers Edition, the Winter’s Gold, the Distillery Only, and a 21-year-old as well as a wonderful single cask that had apparently never been bottled for sale. I was quite impressed with the whole selection but decided to take home a bottle of the 15-year-old.
Smell: Heather & Vanilla with Cream, Apple & Pear, Almond & the faintest hint of Smoke.
Taste: Toffee & Malt, Caramel, Chocolate and a touch of Wood Spice, again just the softest hint of Peat.
Thoughts: There’s nothing particularly fancy about Dalwhinnie’s single malt. It’s just a solid, dependable Highland dram. Wormtub condensers help to add body to the spirit which makes the experience all the more satisfying and 15 years worth of maturation has given it plenty of time to interact with the oak. The bottle cost me £40 which isn’t a lot to pay given its age. I’ve also found Dalwhinnie to be one of the best malts to put in a hot toddy, should you ever find yourself in need of one!
*If the whisky reviewed in this article has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make after following links from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.
4 thoughts on “Dalwhinnie Distillery Tour & 15 Year Old”
Is it just me or are all of your tasting notes basically the same…. apple pear cream malt lemon toffee fudge smoke, caramel, wood, spice, fruit. Any or all of those basically.
I suppose I would argue that those are all traits commonly found in a lot of whiskies. For my thoughts on tasting notes you should read here… https://whiskyreviews.net/about/regarding-tasting-notes/