Sunday, December 20, 2009
Dalwhinnie 15 year old - Single Malt Scotch Review
Dalwhinnie 15 years Highland Single Malt Scotch
Aged exclusively in ex-bourbon casks. However, Distiller's Editions released by this distillery frequently involve some aging in ex-Oloroso sherry casks.
Vanilla, lemon, apple blossoms, pears.
Apple skins, bruised apple sweetness, salted almonds drizzled in honey, caramel, syrup and barley toys.
Spiciness emerges, baking soda, black pepper, but only slightly.
Drying malt, pencil lead, graphite, oak, balsa, a wee smoke, peat and heather.
Whenever I encounter the flavor profile of Dalwhinnie, the best word to describe a unique aspect of the flavor profile at mid-palate is the word 'heather.' I hate to use a term that I cannot define well. Who eats heather? What does it taste like? Heather is a common, low-lying shrub that goes by the latin name of "Calluna vulgaris." Wikipedia states that it has a characteristic strong taste. Bee hives located near bogs or moorland containing heather tend to produce a much stronger variety of honey. So, when I use the term 'heather' think of it as that taste you experience of the other flavors on steroids so to speak. "Heather honey" is stronger than ordinary honey.
In any event, the heather works beautifully with the honey, cinammon, cocoa, coffee and other flavors (ie. oak) in this Highland malt.
Tasted neat, it's a single malt scotch that starts out silky, very sweet, but quickly develops very rich honey flavors. Nothing bitter or too robust that will put off the novice drinkers.
Dalwhinnie also delivers 'some' complexity of flavor that will set it apart from others. I say 'some' because it is not overly so.
I recommend this as a great gift to all those who want an inoffensive, yet interesting Highland single malt.
© Jason Debly, 2009- Present. All rights reserved.
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True, there aren't many "lady whisky reviewers", but they certainly exist: Martine Nouet, Carol P. Shaw, Misako Udo, Helen Arthur...ReplyDelete
Good to know Doc!ReplyDelete
A good choice for this situation. I often drive past this distillery on my way to Sutherland. I've always meant to pull over and drop into the visitor centre. Its such a picturesque setting and there's little else in the village!ReplyDelete
I don't think I would have anywhere near your discipline to drive by without a visit.ReplyDelete
Apparently, scotch distillers often chose remote and rural areas to found their operations as, in addition to access to clean water, good peat and barley, they were far away from the tax man in urban centres. At least that is what I read and so it would be consistent with your observation that Dalwhinnie is located in a village with little else going on. Highland Park, Oban and many others are in the same category.
To my mind, Dalwhinnie 15 can be a little bit too inoffensive. Then again, I am a fan of most things Laphroaig and I don't think you can get much more different than that.ReplyDelete
I was most of the way through a bottle of Dalwhinnie 15 before I finally got the point. There is something there, but it's very subtle. I guess one comment would be to watch what you eat or drink beforehand, it seems fairly easy to mask. However, after access to several bottles, it also appears that this particular product is extremely consistent and for that reason is unlikely to produce many unexpected "surprises".
I reckon your comment about a "safe bet" is right on the mark here. There should be one in every household.
Ian, you are right, it is a very subtle whisky and incredibly consistent. Glad you have come to appreciate it!ReplyDelete
Jason, I like the review quite a bit and look forward to exploring the remainder of the site.ReplyDelete
Regarding your "Who eats heather" question...heather honey is quite delicious and comes across, in my mind, as the source of the sweetness. It is an earthier sweetness than say, clover or orange blossom honey. But quite pleasant on big fat scone.
My comment about 'heather' relates to the type of low lying, flowering plant that fills the hillsides of Scotland. The 'heather honey' was something else.
In any case, Dalwhinnie is a winner!
Check it out!
hey jason, love your site. how do you think the dalwhinnie stacks up against HP12 or cragganmore? I like HP18 but haven't had the 12 or the cragganmore.ReplyDelete
I had the dalwhinnie the other night and find your review very accurate: silky, smooth, honeyed, with cereal undertones and just a touch of smoke (very pleasant, yet somewhat one-dimensional).
I have a friend that is just getting into whisky and I want to get him a bottle for his birthday. He likes JWR and JWB. I imagine HP12 or cragganmore may be more flavorful than dalwhinnie, but I'm not sure which of the three would have the best balance between flavor and lack of burn.
For someone just getting into whisky, I think Cragganmore 12 is the safest bet. Smooth, inoffensive yet interesting. A very subtle whisky. A very honeyed dram. Great for the newbie. I happen to really like it too, but could understand some criticism as being a tad simple.
With respect to you, I think you might find the Highland Park 12 to be very interesting. It is a tremendous dram packing a lot of punch. A multitude of flavors. You have smoke, toffee, peat, a little bit of everything. It's kinda like Dalwhinnie, but Dalwhinnie on steroids!
Thanks for commenting and if you have any other questions, please do not hesitate!
Jason, Seeing this review tonight before class reminded me to mention the Tomatin 15y ($45 US) to you. It's a very graceful malt, one built along the same "flavor arc" as the Dalwhinnie and Cragganmore, but having its own point of focus. There's a tad more more fruit intensity and a richer mouthfeel; clearly a very medium toast bourbon cask style, without the sherry cask influence of the Cragg. It closely resembles the AnCnoc 16y as well. JKReplyDelete
The Tomatin 15 is not available in my area, but I will be on the lookout for it when in the States.Delete
Allegedly.... Co-op 12 y/o highland malt is from Dalwhinnie. It has some caramel so appears rich golden towards mahogany. Otherwise is very very similar to the descriptions above. And at £19 a bottle not bad at all!ReplyDelete
Personally - I consider the co-op to be excellent and a fortunate discovery. Smooth enough to drink neat...
It may be a younger malt from Dalwhinnie. This is not uncommon. For example, Smokehead is an Islay malt but not identified on packaging. Apparently it is a seven year old Ardbeg. A bargain compared to the price of Ardbeg.Delete
Jason, Re: bargain status of Smokehead. It's a pretty penny ($50 on the shelf here) for a young roughie, and a lesser dram to my taste than its Ardbeg Ten purebread brother ($46). JKReplyDelete
Yeah, its all about the price. At $50 Smokehead is not worth it. I guess I should have clarified that. Smokehead may be a single malt, but tastes very close to a blend. I still prefer Black Bottle anyday over Smokehead regardless of the fact that Black Bottle can be had for $22!Delete
Just curious, how does the Dalwhinnie 15 compare with Oban 14? I haven't had either one yet, so I was curious about what you think. They're both on my soon-to-purchase list.
Oban exhibits orange chocolate tastes while Dalwhinnie is a wild honey with nuts and floral notes.Delete
They are both very good.
I just bought a bottle of Dalwhinnie 15 today, and absolutely love it. I was surprised how polarized the reviews are on this. One review site gave it a pitiful 60, while others rate it in the high 80's. One of the things I find annoying about review sites is that they come up with an "average" rating, but don't throw out the dumbass votes. I think these average ratings would be a lot more accurate if they threw out, let's say, the top 5 and bottom 5. A couple of unreasonable 25 or 30 ratings can throw off the whole average.ReplyDelete
Dalwhinnie is a lovely dram and I have never understood the negativity of others towards it.Delete
Glad you are enjoying it!
Jason.... This embarrassing...My mate and I sampled it a couple of weeks ago. Err... When I say sampled... there is only about 1-2 inches left in the bottle. We have done this before with the Cragg 12 with no ill effects.. We didn't think the extra 3% would cause any probs... WRONG!... I had to be walked home at 2am. and spent all Saturday on the couch... Oh boy... As a it's a delicious drop... The Cragg still tops it... not by much... Would I buy again..? Hell yeah.ReplyDelete
Tried 2 'sweets'.and enjoyed both... now for a smokey... The Adbeg.
AL from OZ
Ardbeg is certainly at the extreme other end of the flavor profile when compared to Dalwhinnie and Cragganmore. It is a powerful Islay delivering the most peat and smoke in the market place. If Islays are new to you , you might want to start with Lagavulin 15 instead. Just a thought.Delete
Yeah, Dalwhinnie is a gem!
Actually, my first crack at the single malts was the Laph 10... loved it. then went to the qtr cask. Again great stuff.ReplyDelete
The Laga didn't do it for me Jason. I assume Ardbeg is similar to the Laph... or am I wrong yet again ?
AL from OZ
Ardbeg and Laphroaig are big dog peat monsters. Lagavulin is much gentler and of a lesser phenolic quality.Delete
Laphroaig 18 is a treat too but probably very expensive where you are.
Oh yeah. Just looked it up... $180 (Aus) . Very hard to justify to my lovely wife.ReplyDelete
Would love to try it though...
I've mainly been a JWB (with water and ice)drinker for the past 30 + (I'm 65) years but I've been wanting to try single malts and based on this review and mostly positive comments I picked up a 750ml bottle for $61.69 OTD here in central Oklahoma.ReplyDelete
I poured three fingers in a glass with just a touch of water 45 minutes ago and I can say that I really like it and will purchase more when this bottle is empty.....very mild and flavorful and the review was spot on.
Well you fellas have a safe New Year 2016 and it looks like it's about time to go pour another three fingers.
Friend, this is great news! Welcome to the single malt fellowship! Glad you took a chance on this gem of a malt. Others for you to consider are Cragganmore 12 yrs, Glenfiddich 15 Solera, Oban 14 yrs and many, many more!Delete
Happy New Year!