Monthly Archives: May 2013

Glenmorangie 18 y.o. Extremely Rare Review

Glenmorangie 18 y.o. Extremely Rare246

43% abv

Score:  86/100


Gotta hand it to LVMH.  Their bottles are sexy.  Nice contours…nice labelling…nice colors in the glass.  But, hey…this is malt whisky, not handbags, luggage or jewellery.  Since I’m not one of those folk who think presentation amounts to extra points when assessing or scoring whisky, let’s get on to the stuff that actually matters.

Just an introduction:  Glenmorangie is a Highland distillery from the Northern reaches of Scotland that boasts some of the tallest stills in the industry.  Possibly the very tallest.  This, by nature, lends the spirit a lighter, more estery profile (think fragrant and sweeter on the fruity notes).  The distillery is also famous (or infamous, perhaps, would be a better word?) for their bold pioneering of whisky ‘finishing’.  They have taken the concept to an extreme art form.  Rather successfully too, I might add.

Speaking to this, the 18 year old, in particular…

It’s a rather sad fact that there is not a lot of aged Glenmorangie out there, ergo the ‘Extremely Rare’ on the label.  Hmmm…not sure if that quite aligns with my idea of extremely rare, but…for the sake of getting along…we’ll give ’em a pass, I guess.

This malt whisky spent the first 15 years of its life in bourbon casks, before being re-racked into ex-Oloroso butts, rounding out the light floral nature of the spirit itself with a bit more depth from the sherry influence.

I hate to say it, ’cause it feels kinda like a cop out, but there’s really not a lot more to talk about with this one.  A rather nice whisky with not a lot of fanfare, backstory or personality.

Nose:  Florals up front.  White chocolate sauce.  Kinda perfume-y.  A touch of dust.  A rather blunt dough note.  Ginger.  A touch of peach and mandarin orange.  Vanilla cake with cream icing.  Almost Lowland-ish.

Palate:  Some weedy notes, and rather sharp for an 18 year old.  It’s kinda fruity on the palate, but I’ll be f*cked if I can pick ’em out.  Not as smooth the nose hints at.  Unsweetened grapefruit.  Barleys at the end.  Fades into a slightly bitter grassy note with some over-steeped tea.  Somewhat surprised there is Oloroso at play here.

Not bad, but rather boring.  Would never peg this as an 18 year old either.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

Macallan 1824 Series

The Macallan 1824 Series



A couple months back I received an invite to an Edrington event for the Macallan.  Unfortunately, however, scheduling conflicts kept me from attending this gala.  By this point, rumour had been rampant for some time that Macallan was about to strip away the numbers from the bottles of their core range and introduce a new series free of the shackles of age statements.  An industry mate and I shared some interesting discussion on this revamp, and when I asked if he’d be attending, his response was something along the lines of ‘yes…I can’t miss the chance to see Macallan put a gun to their head and pull the trigger’.  My paraphrasing, not his exact words.

This malt whisky equivalent of the Budd Dwyer effect was inexplicable as far as both he and I were concerned.  We both understood the effect those numbers (or lack thereof) could have on an entity such as Macallan.

Several months later I can finally brush aside speculation in favor of honest observation.  Forget the bias.  Let’s use our senses to weigh in.

A few thoughts first, though…

Apparently the new 1824 series is built from malts matured in both Spanish and American oak.  This would mean that Macallan have effectively combined the Fine Oak and Sherry Oak ranges, I think.  This last statement is purely subjecture however, as I’ve also heard there is no influence from ex-bourbon casks.  Either way…they now not only have more flexibility in terms of which casks they can bury in their whisky vattings, but also in terms of cask quality management and/or costs.  All, of course, without bowing to the inflexibility of an age statement.  Call it what you like, but ultimately…it’s a form of blank cheque for the Edrington Group to bottle whatever they like, so long as the color stays consistent.

Color.  Yep.  The new range is built primarily on aesthetics.  Hue.  Tint.  Shade.  Call it what you like.  Macallan is building malts to adhere to the colors they label the bottle as (Gold, Amber, Sienna and Ruby).  Of course the inherent age of the whisky in the casks does, to a degree, help determine the final color (ergo equation, right or wrong, is darker = older = better), but really?  Really?  This is utterly absurd.  And for that reason…we’re gonna dig in and suss out some truth.

Honestly.  I am 100% behind this enterprise as it stands.  Conditionally.  As long as the whisky in the jar stays uniform in terms of quality…give ‘er hell, Macallan.  I’ll climb on board.  In fact, I’m already singing the praises of a couple of these new endeavours.

A bit of editorializing though:  I’ll go on record here as saying I do expect quality slippage.  It’s just the nature of a the beast.  Huge demand in a booming whisky market…no regulation in terms of age requirements or cask quality…and, let’s be honest, desire for profit margin.  All of these are factors that could lead to an eventual decline in what is, out of the gates, a great dram.  I hope I’m wrong.  Please, Macallan…prove me wrong.

As a final note…apparently the blending team sampled an absolutely mindboggling 30,000 casks to ultimately reach the final components that would comprise this new quartet of whiskies.  Wow.  Think I need a career change.

Alright.  Is it just me, or is it getting awful thirsty in here?  Let’s have a drink.


Macallan Gold

40% abv

Score:  82.5/100

Nose:  Malty, creamy and just slightly feinty (smells familiar to anyone who has stood close to a spirit safe in a distillery).  Not a lot of sherry influence showing yet, but it is there in a distant dry fruitcake manner.  Citrus and vanilla. A little bit of mint.  Salty uncooked pastry dough.  A touch of over-toasted oak and pepper.

Palate:  Almost immediately drying.  Apple skins.  Grains and toothpicks.  Deep threads of thick pure honey.  Orange.

Thoughts:  Pleasantly sippable.  Though something of a lightweight.  Not bad for the entry-level consumer.  Should note…no off notes, just youth holding this one back.



Macallan Amber

40% abv

Score:  84.5/100

Nose:  Creamy.  Still slightly malty.  Much more sherry to speak of now, as we’d expect from Macallan.  Some orange rind, or good marmalade.  Coffee and chocolate…maybe a creamy mocha.  Cinnamon.  A little caramel, pepper and ginger…each in dribs and drabs.  Malteasers.

Palate:  Matches (just a far off touch though).  Sweetness develops nicely over the first few seconds.  Raisins.  Citrus furniture polish.  Pleasant, but mild, spiciness.

Thoughts:  Not too far removed from the Gold, but a little sweeter and more ’rounded’.  All in all…quite good.  Not to sound like that one sulphur-obsessed whisky writer we all know, but there is an off butt or two in here.  It’s effect is minimal, and unless you’re sensitive, you likely won’t even notice.



Macallan Sienna

43% abv

Score:  90.5/100

Nose:  Now we’re getting sweeter and some of those more sassy mature sherry tones.  Nice jammy Oloroso high notes here.  Chocolate and a slight smokiness.  Raspberry and orange (yum!).  Marzipan.  Some mint or eucalyptus now too.

Palate:  Here is that jam-like sweetness again.  Love it.  Spicy.  Eucalyptus here too.  Very nice full arrival with a smooth development from scotch/sherry immediacy into a refined chocolate ganache and red fruit crescendo.  Very drinkable.  Ahem…very.

Thoughts:  With the Sienna, we’ve now moved into the high end.  This is classic and exceptional Macallan.  Hopefully they can maintain this level of quality.



Macallan Ruby

43% abv

Score:  92/100

Nose:  Awwww…hell, yes!  Cinnamon, orange and dark cherry (my favorite fruit!).  Great jam/jelly sweetness.  Candle wax notes, showing some maturity and nice old casks buried in here.  Nice smells of home baking and spiced stewed fruit.  Chocolate again, but much more ‘high end’ and expensive chocolate.  Heavy toffee, which is gorgeous.

Palate:  Sweet and fruity.  Orange lifesavers.  Cinnamon and slightly over-baked pie crust.  More of those deep, dark dried fruit notes.  Mouthwatering, before slowly drying on the tannins.  An absolutely great oral experience (shhh…keep you comments to yourself).

Thoughts:  Mature and awesome.  Not quite a 93, this is definitely a 92+



I’ll take a little salt, please.  Something to help me swallow my words.  The new Macallan line-up is good.  Better than good, actually.  Particularly the latter two.


– Words, Tasting Notes, Thoughts:  Curt

– Photos:  Curt



Laphroaig Triple Wood Review

Laphroaig Triple Wood016

48% abv

Score:  88/100


It’s a different whisky world nowadays.  In the early days of illicit whisky production, it’s highly likely the only reason the spirit would have ever seen the inside of a cask was for storage immediately after being made or for ease of transport.  The fiery juice was consumed hot and angry, mellowing be damned.  Over time it was discovered that the effect the wood was having on the alcohol when it was retained for any length of time was favorable.

Many years later (early 1900s), in an age of whisky overproduction, allegations were made that nearly any barrel available was used for whisky maturation.  I’ve even heard nasty, and generally debunked, chatter about Campbeltown distilleries in particular, maturing in old pickle barrels.  Ugh.  Either way…I think at this point the whisky was likely left alone to mellow, barely ever sloshing about (don’t forget…long, long back there was no such thing as a forklift to make ease of cask movement a reality) and when eventually removed from wood, it was quickly bottled.

Creeping a little further down the timeline (present day), we find ourselves in an age where whisky moves from cask to cask with the mobility of a cheerleader through a football team.  Not necessarily a bad thing.  Allows for some really funky permutations of the spirit, by short bursts of influence from other spirits, whereas a prolonged maturation in said cask may be too heavy-handed.

Laphroaig Triple Wood is essentially another young Laphroaig, much in the vein of our beloved Quarter Cask, but further mellowed in Oloroso sherry casks.  Sweet meets peat.  Yum.  Surprisingly it is a tad subdued, but still bloody enormous.  If that makes any sense.  To a Laphroaig drinker, it probably does.

Nose:  Vanilla cream.  Pears.  Creamy sweetness.  Prickly and young, but still seems ‘old enough’ somehow.  Seabreezes.  Lemon.  Nice integration of the whisky and sherry (successful…much like Ardbeg, in that way).  Medicinal and iodine-heavy (of course).  Smoke and peat (again…of course).  Fish and salt.  All told though…still seems balanced and mellowed.

Palate:  A very pleasant sweetness.  Tarry and brilliantly sharp.  Brine and anise.  Eucalyptus and big medicinal notes.  Citric and oily.  Earthy peat.  Smoky, to be sure.  Tangy and saucy.  Burnt woods.  Long, long linger.  Green apple skins on the fade.

I had heard some rather unflattering reviews of this whisky upon release.  Not sure what those folks were drinking.  This is a really enjoyable drink.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

Macallan Part 2…From The Fine Oak Expressions


Ok…we’re nearly at the point of publishing reviews for the new Macallan 1824 NAS series.  Before I get to that little bit of fun however, I kinda wanted to knock out at least one more of these Macallan featurettes.  In a previous piece on the Sherry Oak series, I promised at least two, and possibly three, more runs of tasting notes from the Macallan ranges.  Moving on from the Sherry Oak releases we checked out here, let’s take a peek at a handful from the Macallan Fine Oak line.  Here are a few bits of insight regarding this, one of the main branches of the Macallan tree.

A few decades back Macallan decided to have a little fun.  Or maybe it was a cost-savings venture*.  Not really certain.  Already famous for single malt whisky matured in butts from their own Spanish bodegas, the good folk at Macallan began sourcing ex-bourbon barrels from the US.  These barrels were sherry-seasoned, and whiskies matured in these casks were married with other, more typical, stocks from the distillery.  The result was an entire new range for Macallan that since 2004 has run in parallel with the Sherry Oak releases.

*When you consider the price of American bourbon barrels vs the price of Spanish sherry butts…egads!  We’re looking at a difference of (if rumours are correct) around 1000%.  Ouch.

Anyway…the whisky…starting with the new make spirit as a benchmark…


Macallan New Make

Notes:  63% abv.  Crystal clear.

Nose:  Slight nuttiness.  Malty.  Fresh bitter fruit.  Rubbery acetone.  Metallic note somewhere in there.  Oh yeah…and some cereals.

Palate:  Fire water.  With a bit o’ citrus.  Estery.  Please put this waxy young thing into the rock tumbler (ahem…a fine sherry bucket) and knock those edges off.

Thoughts:  Unrecognizable as a Macallan really.  Shows you what the distillery’s wood policy really means.  Cool as hell to see this as a new make.

Bottle Shots 2 026

Macallan 10 Fine Oak

Notes:  40% abv.

Nose:  Dusty oak.  Red fruit.  Barley.  A wee bit dry and mildly figgy.  Orange.  Honeyed woods.  Cereal.  Slightly sharp and thin.

Palate:  Again…disappointingly thin.  And a little sharp.  Really?  This is Macallan?  High notes of citrus.  Oak.

Thoughts:  Simple.  Underdeveloped.  Pleasant, but…simply not ‘my’ Macallan.


Macallan 15 Fine Oak

Notes:  43% abv.

Nose:  Some orange and just a touch of white pepper.  Lots of soft creamy vanilla.  Grains.  Some light lavendar notes.  Slightly grassy.  A touch of nutmeg and scone.

Palate:  Pie crust with a touch of spice.  Some oaky notes and strong vanilla.  The top fire-toasted layer of creme brulee.

Thoughts:  Clean.  A definite step up from the 10 y.o.  Quite unassuming, but well-made and refreshingly drinkable.

067 (2)

Macallan 17 Fine Oak

Notes: 43% abv.

Nose:  Green fruit skin.  Hint of ginger.  Caramelized sugars.  Oak peeks through as it opens.  Hay and mellow spice.

Palate:  Fruits arrive with a little more confidence.  Oaky and drying.  Everyone leaves but the woods, which arrived late anyway.  Surprisingly drying.

Thoughts:  Fresh and vibrant.  Wife called this one ‘wintery’.  Hmmm.  Not so sure ’bout that, but…it does have a rather refreshing coolness to it.  Really liked this one.


Macallan 21 Fine Oak

Notes:  43% abv.

Nose:  Candied or maybe honeyed.  Rising bread.  Tropical fruits.  Hay.  Slightly floral.  Grains.  Sweet buttery toffee.  Honey and a perfect melange of X-Mas spice.  Wood influence at a perfect age.  Sweet.  Orange zest.

Palate:  Unfolds slowly.  Woods arrive first.  Spice and zest.  Buttery baking and drying fruit.

Thoughts:  A lot more ‘electric’ than the rest of the range.  Great nose with excellent balance.  Palate is a little duller than the nose, but still very good.  This one surprised and charmed me.  More please?

062 (2)

Macallan 25 Fine Oak

Notes:  43% abv.

Nose:  Waxy vanilla.  Green and dill-like (basil?).  Aged bourbon cask notes (ghostly fruit and sweetness).  Caramel apple.  Dusty grain.

Palate:  Sharp green notes and wax carry to palate.  Red fruit skins.  Rich and mouthwatering.  great finish too.

Thoughts:  Not even remotely comparable to the Sherry Oak 25, but hey…am I gonna say no to this?  Hell no.  Another good drink and very indicative of how much quality you can see in older Macallans, irrespective of the big sherry maturation.


Macallan 30 Fine Oak

Notes:  43% abv.

Nose:  Fruit still seems quite lively.  Vanilla weaving in and out.  White peppered peach.  White cranberry.  Wood shavings.  Grains are strong.  Beautiful restraint.

Palate:  Vanilla carried by mild oakiness.  Bread crust.  Cacao shavings.  Touch of orange.  Fades to a drying finish.

Thoughts:  Don’t think I’d peg this as a 30 y.o.  Mature enough, but definitely wears its years well.  I still gotta go with the Sherry Oak line as a personal preference, but this is bloody great drink in its own right.


Alright.  Two rounds down.  Part three will be the Oddballs; a selection of a few slightly more off-the-beaten-path releases from Macallan.  Further…I’ll tackle the Mac Travel series (Twenties, Thirties, Forties and Fifties) as well as the afore-mentioned 1824 series (Gold, Amber, Sienna and Ruby).  Stay tuned.



– Words & Tasting Notes:  Curt

– Photos:  Curt

Dalmore Gran Reserva Review

Dalmore Gran Reservayep 014

40% abv

Score:  84/100


So sayeth the sages: this Dalmore Gran Reserva was a replacement for the Cigar Malt.  If rumours are to be believed (and surprisingly, in the whisky industry, they often are) then the reasons for this replacement were due to a more politically aware viewpoint, forced or otherwise, suggesting that it was inappropriate to market the malt with ‘cigar’ on the label.  Really?  C’mon.  Alcohol and smokes have always been tighter than Tom Cruise and crazy.

Further refutation may lie, I would argue, in the fact that the Dalmore website still offers up a Cigar Malt Reserve.  A higher end version, yes, but obviously the naming convention is still in tact.  Hmmmm.  Can’t always trust the scuttlebutt, I suppose.

Moving on, and keeping our ears to the ground ’round the watercooler…further gossip suggests that this malt is simply a repackaging of the now obsolete standard Cigar Malt expression.  I welcome correction here from anyone ‘in the know’, but I can unequivocably state that I have put these drams head-to-head several times now and there is no comparison.  The Gran Reserva is rather balanced, spicy and pleasant, while the Cigar Malt I found pungent, malty, heavy and cloying.  I should also note this release at 40% abv and the Cigar Malt at 43%.

Anyway…unless my bottle of the CM was a dud, these are most definitely entities unto themselves.  And on record…this one kicks the piss outta the other.

Gran Reserva is a mix of Oloroso and Bourbon cask-matured malts, with the ration skewing more heavily towards the former.  Logically you’d expect sweetness, dried fruits and spice.  Check, check, check.  This is all well met by a very typical Dalmore orange note.  Component casks are between 10 and 15 years of age.  Nice whisky.  I like this one.

Nose:  Doughy.  Some cinnamon and creme caramel.  Vanilla.  Orange.  Fruity Ju-jubes…and/or maybe a hint of Wine Gums.  Nice spice profile.  Pronounced, but not loud.  More like ‘well-articulated’ spices.

Palate:  Orange again.  Very pleasant warm spices.  Chocolate (both milk and white varieties).  Wow…is this ever soft and pillowy.  An easy sipper.

This is a ‘library malt’ to me.  Armchair, Hemingway, Dalmore.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

Dalmore Vintage 2001 Review

Dalmore Vintage 2001Dalmore Vintage 2001

48% abv

Score:  84/100


Nifty l’il Dalmore here.  A limited edition vintage release from 2001.  Seeing as this was bottled in 2011, you’re looking at just a young’un.  10 years old actually.  The malt, while still recognizably young, behaves a little older than its years, in carrying some rather heavy dried fruit notes and lumbering vanillins.  Sherry influence meets the affects of active cask vanilla leaching meets young spirit.  Or so I’d guess anyway, but hey…that’s only a guess.

While the distillery is not in the top tiers for my personal affectations, I do like the rather consistent approach they take to producing whiskies.  Each is unique, but bears certain hallmarks.  Recognizably Dalmore, in other words.  Carving out your niche in a rather saturated whisky market is to be lauded.  And man…do I love the 12-point stag’s head adornment on each bottle.  Dalmore looks sexy sitting on the shelf.  No extra points; just sharing a personal positive bias.

As of now, I’m not 100% certain what the outturn was for this release, but I would imagine several thousand bottles would be a safe bet.  Information on this one, in my wee meanderings, has been rather sparse, but the backstory isn’t as important as the future.  And the future, for this guy, holds another dram.  So let’s get on with it.

Nose:  Big, big, big florals.  Like eating freshly churned vanilla ice cream out of freshly carved oaken bowls.  Malty.  Orange marmalade and pepper.  Some dried fruits, cinnamon and candied ginger.  Maybe some syrupy pear…maybe apple…either way, some white fruit.

Palate:  Wine-ish.  Some coffee notes and dark chocolate.  Dried fruits and figgy bits.  Moves on into tannic plum skins.  Some nuts and oak.

Enjoyable dram, of course.  In case you couldn’t tell. 


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Dalmore

Dalmore 1263 King Alexander III Review

Dalmore 1263 King Alexander IIIyep 002

40% abv

Score:  86.5/100


I’ve seen this referred to as a ‘luxurious aged malt’.  Not sure what that actually equates to in ‘whisky years’ (similar to human years, though the life expectancy in a cask is much lower 😉 ), but let’s just assume there is something likely approaching the two decade mark due to the creamier fluffy baking notes, balanced spices and soft fruits.  The enormity of the grape influence here is relatively obscuring however, making it difficult to venture any sort of meaningful guess as to true age.  But who cares, right?

This is built on a whole mishmash of cask wizardry.  Oloroso, Madeira, Marsala, Port, Bourbon, Wine…maybe more.   Bloody hell.  Must have been a job and a half trying to strike some sort of harmonious balance here.  Kudos to Mr. Paterson of Whyte & Mackay though, as he seems to have succeeded in his machinations.  No dissonance to be found. 

Amid all this mad Willy Wonka-like ingenuity, sits a rather quality dram.  This is the true art of blending.  Finding casks that work together and determing proportionality (is that even a word???).  Paterson has upped the ante here though and decided to show us his ‘A’ game.  Sort of a ‘look what I can do’ thing.  Fun and keeps me reaching for the glass.  And ultimately…that’s all that matters.

For those curious as to what the nomenclature of this dram is all about…here’s a little backstory for ya, from the good people at Dalmore:

“In 1263 the ancestor of Clan Mackenzie saved King Alexander III from being gored by a stag with a single arrow. The grateful King granted him the right to bear a stag’s head in his coat of arms, with the motto ‘Help the King’ (Cuidich ‘ N Righ, in the Gaelic language). The Dalmore Distillery was long owned by the Mackenzie family, and every bottle of The Dalmore is adorned with this noble emblem: a stag’s head, with twelve points to its antlers, signifying a ‘royal’.”

Nose:  Some creamy caramel.  Nice almond paste notes.  Mixed  fruits; both dark, fresh and juicy as well as the dried variety.  Lemon and orange zests.  Something like a vanilla pudding.  Raisin scones and iced sugar cookies.  Soft milk chocolate.

Palate:  An odd pithy sort of dryness.  Orange and chocolate.  Now some rather big wine notes.  Tobacco.

Thanks to my mate, J Wheelock of Authentic Wines And Spirits for the snazzy wee sample bottle you see above.  Cheers, friend. 


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

Dalmore 15 y.o. Review

Dalmore 15 y.o.085

40% abv

Score:  87.5/100


I’ve yet to find one, but I’d love to try a Dalmore with a few years on it that was matured in nothing but refill hogsheads, free from any sherry or wine influence.  I think it would be brilliant to experience the naked spirit and see how it suits my palate. 

Dalmore puts out rather intriguing and complex whiskies but, in all fairness, they’re rather adulterated and there’s a lot that can be massaged with the sweet notes of sherry or wine.  I’m more than ok with this, as I do love nicely sherried drams, but it’s simply the nature of my curiosity and whisky nerdery that I’d relish the opportunity to see this malt a little more…exposed.

This is Dalmore at 15 years.  A rather decent way along the path to maturity.  The whisky here is deep and interesting already, bearing the hallmarks of nice spirit/wood integration and the great mellowing influence of time.  Aged in 100% sherry casks (matusalem, apostoles and amoroso apparently), this is sweet, as you’d expect, but sweet in a rather moderate way.  It has a great natural home preserves sort of quality about it.  Deep red macerated fruits, ‘jammy’ is the term we usually use, are front and center, but the creamy nature of notes such as chocolate, caramel and custard temper any tendency to overpower with tangy fruits.

The strength here is in the nose.  Palate is good too, but the nose definitely scores an extra point.

Nose:  Pepper and florals.  Caramel.  Quite wine-y.  Hint of raspberry coulis and other bold dark fruits; some dried and some fresh and jammy.  Coffee.  Lemon and orange.  Chocolate covered strawberry cream.  Fresh, but mellow, unlit tobacco.  Creamy custard.

Palate:  Wines are right up in front.  Rather tannic.  Bittersweet chocolate.  Orange, as expected.  Dries into woods and wine notes.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

Dalmore 40 y.o. Review

Dalmore 40 y.o.Dal40BotHR (2)

40% abv

Score:  93/100


Oh, thank god. 

Right up front I want to say…this whisky is freaking awesome.  Love it.  Complex, deep and incredibly well-made.  I would give my right…er…arm for a bottle of this.

Now…forgive me a few moments of self-indulgent oration.

Never a huge fan of Dalmore, I had nearly resigned myself to not laying hands on a dram from this distillery that truly lit my fire.  Their standard range of malts are, for the most part, quite decent, but not really in my wheelhouse.  Their older releases are novelties released at insultingly unjustified price points.  Not certain where Richard Paterson and team got the idea that everything they release should command a fat four figure price tag (especially in contrast to distilleries like Glenfarclas releasing brilliant 40 year old whiskies at less than $500).

Anyway…I know there are many expressions released by Dalmore that have had their praises sung from the rooftops, yet the prohibitive pricing scheme has kept those whiskies out of the hands of most of us laymen.

Here’s the rub…

Many malters I’ve spoken to feel the same way I do.  The younger expressions of Dalmore are not awesome.  Quite decent, but not reaching the highs we’d hope for.  These are, of course, the very same malts that regularly get reviewed and never really earn the raves that could possibly (in theory, anyway) justify a distillery assuming they could position themselves as I’ve mentioned above.

Dalmore is a distillery that could really benefit from the execution of a concept like the release of a high strength, low price, quality whisky.  Something for the punters to pick up…sink their teeth into…and start to create some buzz.  I’m thinking of something along the lines of Aberlour a’bunadh, Glenfarclas 105, Auchentoshan Valinch, Ardbeg Uigeadail, etc.  Richard…if you ever read this…please?

Anyway…you see where I’m at with this, right?  Ok.  Hopefully I don’t twist an ankle stepping down from my soapbox.

The whisky at hand is a 40 year old Dalmore, and holy hell is it good!  I went in with rather low expectations, simply due to previous experience with the more ‘everyday’ malts in the Dalmore range, and I had my socks knocked off.  I tacked this single malt on to the back end of a Dalmore range tasting, and it was kind of like having a game of pick-up soccer/football with your mates and having Devid Beckham join in.  This whisky is simply in another league. 

Big price tag, but this is a big whisky.  Perhaps this time it is vindicated. 

Nose:  Paint and latex and all those sexy as hell mature cask notes.  Juicy concorde grape.  Rich woody notes and some tight rings of smoke.  Pepper.  Tangerine, pineapple, papaya and deep threads of black current.  These latter tie in with eucalyptus to remind me of black currant Halls cough drops.  Chocolate.  More fruity notes in rivers of dark caramel.  Quirky, odd and great.

Palate:  Smoke, old wood and latex.  Leathery and drying.  Orange emerges with some tobacco.  Again…some black currant notes.

Thanks to J Wheelock for the sample.  Appreciate it, mate.  Wow. 


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Courtesy of the fine folk at Authentic Wine And Spirits

Dalmore Cigar Malt Review

Dalmore Cigar Maltyep 020

43% abv

Score:  71/100


This is…not good.  At least for me.

I tend to take the approach that most single malts are decent.  In order to be bottled as single malt there is an inherent quality necessary and assumed, otherwise those funky casks would be buried away as blend fodder. 

For this reason, and I think most reviewers take the same approach, most whiskies will score relatively high marks and it is a rare occasion to cross swords with a malt that I would go so far as to say ‘I don’t like this’.  Usually the worst I’ll say will be along the lines of ‘it’s ok’.  Here and there though, we’re bound to find one or two that just don’t sit right with our particular preferred flavor profiles.  Are they bad?  Well…not necessarily, but maybe they are just unsuited to what we find appealing as individuals.  Other folk out there may swoon for ’em.  Hey…there are, after all, people who enjoy surströmming.

Anyway…back to the opening statement.  Not saying the Dalmore Cigar Reserve is bad, just that’s it’s not really good either.  The malt-heavy, overly-generic, and rather cloying nose just does not work for me.  This is the nadir of the Dalmore range though, so on the positive front…it’s all uphill from here.

Finally…novelty titling aside…how does one market a dram as specific to pairings with cigars?  While I enjoy a cigar and malt together, there is simply no two ways about it:  a cigar will deaden the receptors that make sensitivity to the nuances of the malts function.  Logical conclusion…any dram could go with a cigar so long as it was bold enough to fight back against the smoke.  Personally, I’d be leaning towards cask strength though.  Just my two cents, which are likely worth half as much.  😉

Nose:  Very malt heavy.  Dusty almond.  Almost a burnt caramel note.  Nutty and vegetal.  Old leather.  Sprinkle of pepper.  Autumnal decaying leaves.  Spice, but not in balanced proportion.  Cloying malt.  A mate suggested ‘rotting cantaloupe’.  ‘Heavy’ and vaguely unpleasant.

Palate:  A clumsy malt, really.  Cantaloupe and pepper.  Nuts, woods and grains.  Leather.  Ginger.  Dry and tannic.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt