Dalmore 2001 (Gordon & MacPhail)


Reviews of affordable whiskies with some entertaining tales along the way…

The Dalmore Story

Independently bottled Dalmore isn’t something you come across very often but Elgin-based indie bottler Gordon & MacPhail is one of the few companies with the stocks to make it happen. Despite its (self-manufactured) reputation as a luxury malt, Dalmore is a dram that has left me a bit underwhelmed over the years but this bottling stood out at the Falkirk Whisky Social event in August and I decided to bring one home.

Dalmore was built in 1839 by Alexander Matheson of Jardine Matheson, a rather infamous firm best known for succeeding the East India Company and for playing a significant role in the Asian opium trade.

The distillery is located at Alness, 20 miles north of Inverness, on the shore of the Cromarty Firth. Official releases are instantly recognisable due to the embossed Stag’s head that adorns each bottle. The stag emblem became associated with the distillery when it was taken over by the Mackenzie family in 1860. The royal 12-pointed stag had been part of the Mackenzie crest since 1263, when Colin of Kintail rescued King Alexander III from a charging Stag. Despite the family’s ownership having long since ended in the 1960s, the emblem remains, helping to set the Dalmore single malt apart from the rest of the bottles on the shelf.

Today, Dalmore is part of Whyte & Mackay and the whisky is created by their flamboyant and rather eccentric master blender, Richard Patterson, a man for whom 2017 marked 50 years in the whisky industry. This particular dram, however, escaped the Whyte & Mackay warehouses at some point, and made its way to Elgin and to Gordon & MacPhail who bottled it as part of their Connoisseur’s Choice range.

The Whisky

Smell: I get lots of malt and vanilla with freshly baked bread and shortbread biscuits. There’s also some lemon and pineapple and some interesting wee berry notes. Touch of citrus oak.

Taste: Honey and lemon. That berry note again. Vanilla fudge and caramel with some gentle oaky spice. Malty note returns right at the finish.

Thoughts: Official bottlings of Dalmore can be expensive so an asking price of £50 for this 15-year-old, bottled at 46% seemed like a pretty good deal. But don’t expect a typical Dalmore experience – for one thing, it’s naturally coloured so there’s none of the orange-tinted mahogany of regular bottlings. Whyte & MacKay also tend to favour sherry cask maturation but this would appear to be a refill hogshead, which means you get something of a cleaner take on the distillery character, less oak-dominant. Some people claim that 80% of a whiskies flavour comes from the cask that matured it, well not here. Here we see Dalmore in its natural state and it’s not half bad. A very drinkable dram with plenty of subtle complexity and a good example of the benefits of independent bottlers – sometimes you get to see a completely different side to whiskies you thought you knew well.

For more on Dalmore…

For more on Gordon and MacPhail…

About WhiskyReviews.net…

Make Contact…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.