Gordon & MacPhail ‘Connoisseurs Choice’ Dalmore 2001

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You don’t often come across independently released versions of Dalmore but Elgin-based bottler Gordon & MacPhail are one of the few companies with the stocks to make it happen. Despite it’s (self-manufactured) reputation as a luxury malt, Dalmore is a dram which often leaves me a little underwhelmed but this bottle stood out at the Falkirk Whisky Social event in August and I decided to get to know it a little better.

Dalmore was built in 1839 by Alexander Matheson of Jardine Matheson, a firm best known for succeeding the East India Company and for their not insignificant role in the trading of Opium from Asia. The distillery is situated at Alness, 20 miles north of Inverness on the shore of the Cromarthy Firth.

Official bottlings of Dalmore are instantly recognisable from the embossed stag’s head which adorns each bottle, a practice which began when the Mackenzie family took ownership of the distillery in 1860. The royal 12-pointed stag had been incorporated into the Mackenzie family crest ever since 1263 when Colin of Kintail rescued King Alexander III from a charging Stag. Despite this family ownership having long since ended in the 1960’s, the stag’s head remains, helping to set the Dalmore single malt apart from the competition.

Today, Dalmore is part of Whyte & Mackay and is overseen by their flamboyant and eccentric master blender, Richard Patterson, a man for whom 2017 marked 50 years in the industry. This particular dram however, evidently escaped the Whyte & Mackay stable at some point and made it’s way into the care of Gordon & MacPhail, who have bottled it as part of their Connoisseur’s Choice range at 46%.

Smell: Malt and Vanilla predominantly… freshly Baked Bread, Shortbread, Lemon and Pineapple, Cherry and Blueberry.

Taste: Honey and Lemon, Berries, Vanilla Fudge, Caramel and a touch of Oak Spice. Malty right at the finish.

Value for Money: £50 for a 15 year old Dalmore that’s been bottled at 46%, natural colour and un-chill filtered was enough to catch my interest, an experience quite unlike the official bottlings of Dalmore makes it a worthwhile purchase.

Score: 43 / 50. About the Scores…

An interesting take on the Dalmore and a very pleasant dram to boot. Very drinkable but not without some subtle complexity.

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