Friday, October 14, 2011

Review: The Dalmore 12 year old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

When I was recently in Vancouver, I picked up a bottle of The Dalmore 12 years, which is the subject of today's post.  I also purchased a bottle of Chivas Regal 12 judging by the above photo, but that is not the subject of discussion today.  I just happen to like the photo, and Chivas just happens to be in it.  Confused?  That's ok.  It is a state of being for me.  Bear with me.

How's this pic?  The Chivas bottle is gone.  Is that better?  Hope so.  Ok, let's deal with the matter at hand.  Is The Dalmore a worthwhile purchase?

Nose (undiluted)
Damp leaves, moist earth, like a walk through the forest after rainfall.

Palate (undiluted)
Initially, a sweet taste of Oloroso sherry is delivered.  Taste of orange zest and pomegranate soon follow.  While this single malt is sweet, it still manages to have a slightly dry, oak laden, crisp mouth feel by the time of the finish.

Finish (undiluted)
Drying thinly across the palate with a nice flourish of spice.  Gentle warmth, as it disappears from the palate leaving in its wake: subtle Virginia tobacco smoke and dusty oak.

General Impressions
When I first opened the bottle of The Dalmore, poured a measure and took a sip, I was blown away by the crisp flavors of sherry and dark fruit held in perfect balance between the opposing forces of sweet and dry.  In the following days, when I would revisit the bottle, it had settled down a little and was less complex.  The initial crispness upon the palate had dissipated a great deal.  So, initially the malt was damn incredible, but settled after exposure to the air to a much more gentle, easy-going sherry dominated highland malt.  It is still a nice malt, just not leaving me God-smacked (probably not a real word, but oh whatever) like that first tasting.

This single malt tastes a bit 'thin.'  Not a heavy or full bodied mouth feel by any means.  When I talk to fellow scotch nuts, this is the common complaint I hear repeatedly.  The lightness of this spirit somehow leaves these guys wanting more and dissatisfied on some level.

For me, mid-palate and on the finish it is a tad overly oak flavored.  This is a minor criticism though.  Over all, the malt is fairly well put together.

Price Point
The price of this scotch is reasonable.  Reasonable value for money.  This is especially true in the continental United States where great deals can be had.

The Dalmore 12 represents a worthwhile entry point into the realm of sherried Highland malts.  Want to know what sherry in scotch tastes like?  The Dalmore 12 is a good place to start.  It is gentle, refined, and not revealing any cheapness on the palate that I suffered with in my review of Aberlour 12 (see my previous post).  I recommend it so long as the price continues to be reasonable.  Apparently, the drinks company that owns the brand has made some efforts to give it a more upscale appeal along with a higher price tag.  So, be careful to comparison shop to ensure you are not over-paying.

Peer Review
The Dalmore 12, to my mind, is competing with other sherried single malts like Aberlour 12, Aberfeldy 12, GlenDronach, Balvenie 12 yrs Doublewood and Macallan 12.  It holds forth ok in such company.  Better than Aberlour 12 but not as refined as Balvenie, nor as great a bang for your buck as GlenDronach.  Dalmore is in the middle of the pack.

The Dalmore 12 year old is an unpretentious whisky that delivers nice, balanced sweet sherry flavors with the dry oak and spices that make it a logical choice for the newbie.  At the same time, this scotch does have some limitations.  The lack of great complexity prevents it from making any lists of 'must-have' single malts.  This is comfort scotch when you have a craving for some sherried whisky, balanced out by a heavy treatment of oak from the American bourbon casks that it spent time in prior to bottling.  It is not in the league of the truly great 12 year old single malts like:  Highland Park 12 years.


Jason Debly

Copyright © Jason Debly, 2009-2011. All rights reserved. Any and all use is prohibited without permission.

. . . 

Scotch & a Good Story
Back in July of this past summer, I suggested that there was nothing quite like reading a trashy novel and having a sip of a nice drink.  Like most of you, I have read my fair share of pot boilers.  Unlike most of you, I tried my hand at writing one.  So, I did and posted my effort in the July 19 post (click here).  I started with the first chapter, thinking subsequent scotch reviews could be followed by another chapter of my book.

I did that for a while, but I started to receive email from people asking me to post the whole novel in a single post.  It would be easier to read at their leisure.  So, that is what I have done.  Click here in order to go back to the original post and read the novel in it's entirety.  


Jason Debly

Copyright © Jason Debly, 2009-2011. All rights reserved. Any and all use is prohibited without permission.


  1. Hi Jason,

    It's funny but in this case I had the opposite experience in tasting this fine single malt. I found it gave away more nosewise after a week or so.
    Here's what I though about it:

    Nose: Complex. Sherry ,Malt, Wood, Bitter Sweet like Orange Marmelade.
    Strangely enough , during the first tasting session,I thought for a moment I detected a vague smell of cardboard boxes, you know the ones they used in the past for archiving documents. Very strange indeed! Couldn’t detect it anymore during the following tasting sessions.
    Taste: Slightly hot delivery, Light Smoke , Creamy, Sweet, Ginger, Spicy. Very Smooth all in all.
    Finish: Short but not bad at all with some toffee and pepper. Dry nuts in the end.
    Conclusion: A very “ easy” single malt that will please beginning whisky drinkers. I recommend to drink it neat . When I first opened the bottle the Dalmore did not gave away all of its hidden secrets. This became quite clear when I tasted the spirit again about a week later

    Tip: If you like a bit of smoke, add a little bit of Bowmore to it!!!



  2. Jan, I think Dalmore 12 is ok for the newbie, but it delivers little to the more serious scotch nut. It's a mainstream, easy-drinking dram that meets one's basic needs, but will not be making any top ten single malt lists in the near future.

  3. I like the last photo of Dalmore best. A question for you, why can't we find Japanese Scotch in Canada. It appears to be only available in the great metropolis of this world. Is it because of the cost?

  4. Laurent, actually Japanese whisky is available in Canada, albeit, in limited quantities. For example, currently the LCBO website indicates there are two different Japanese whiskies available: (1) Nikka Taketsuru 12 yrs; (2) Nikka Yoichi 10yrs.

    If we visit the BC Liquor site ( there are three Japanese whiskies available: (1) Nikka - From the Barrel; (2) Nikka Miyagikyo 12 yrs; (3) Nikka Taketsuru 12 yrs.

    I suspect that there may be some Japanese whisky in Calgary too.

    But, you still have a point and that is it is very difficult to find Japanese whisky in Canada because the availability has only been recent. Why?

    I have a friend who deals with a provincial liquor corporation from time to time and he advises that the corporation could order in Japanese whisky, but that it is a lot of work because there are few distributors in Canada. This means contacting Japan from scratch and trying to do a deal. That's a lot of work. While there is some limited representation of some Japanese lines, provincial liquor corporations are still hesitant that the product will sell well. That was the case in New Brunswick. NB Liquor ordered in some Yamazaki 12 and 18yrs, after much lobbying by a whisky nut (not me, but an acquaintance) and they indicated they were unhappy with how quickly it sold. I think 200 bottles or so were ordered in and sold in about 6 months whereas they wanted it gone in 3 months.

    The truly great Japanese whiskies that makes one's heart stop and ponder life, the universe and everything are not available in Canada. I am thinking of Hibiki 17 and 21yrs. These are repeatedly winning awards, but not available here.

    . . .

    On another note, I need to buy a good SLR camera, but I keep blowing my discretionary income on whisky and Italian sport coats (Canali, Zegna, etc.) and now I am staring at a "Sartoria Partenopea" jacket on Ebay! Damn Ebay! I just picked up a custom jacket made by the House of Savoia in New York city. I have a growing addiction to Italian apparel that my require some counseling!


  5. My favourite (of thoses you've listted) : Balvanie 12!! Much better than Dalmore

  6. hello jason! Carlos here!!! i love your reviews and i usually do not buy anything before reading any reviews. you really give great ideas along with suggestion which i really love. anyway, i have tried several single malts, and now i find myself wanting to try the dalmore. here in Canada where i live the 15yo is only $25 difference compared to the 12yo and wanted to ask you if it is worth to step up to the 15yo. thanks for your time.

    1. The 15 is lovely stuff. Worth the price. Dalmore Cigar is gorgeous too.