Category Archives: Dalmore

Dalmore Castle Leod Review

Dalmore Castle Leod062

46% abv

Score:  88/100


Here’s a cool little Dalmore.  This is a 1995 vintage that was bottled in 2011.  I suppose that effectively makes it a 15-16 year old, depending on exact bottling date.

But it may have been Sinatra who said ‘age ain’t nothin’ but the way you wear your hat’, so let’s forget about the actual numbers and move on.

I have no real love for wine-finished/matured whiskies.  Occasionally it works out just fine, but more often than not the wine simply overpowers the malt and adds a super sweet and tangy edge that makes me think ‘hangover’ before I’ve even taken first sips.  Of course, I am speaking in vague generalities here, knowing full well there have been some great drams I’ve sampled wherein the whisky and wine were linked as beautifully as ebony and ivory.  Bruichladdich, in particular, has levied some great examples (with a few duds along the way) of wine-influenced single malt on us.  Pays to keep an open mind.

This release, the Dalmore Castle Leod was a limited run of 5000 bottles from ex-bourbon and sherry casks which met and spent a further 18 months sloshing around in Bourdeaux wine casks.  As expected, the end result is a fairly mature dram with a solid upswing of sweet grapey notes.  The typical Dalmore profile of malt, orange and caramel is by no means undermined by the wine here, as the ‘finishing’ influence, while rather lengthy, has not overwhelmed the end product.  Nice balance.  I like it.

Castle Leod was put together by W&M’s Richard Paterson to both celebrate a longstanding relationship with the Clan MacKenzie, family members of which at one time owned the Dalmore distillery, and to help raise money for restoration work on the namesake castle, which is prominently featured on the packaging.  The castle itself dates back to 1606 and was apparently quite reknowned in times of yore for the healing properties of local spring waters.

Personally, I love these fascinating ties to the land and history that distilleries often use to assert providence. 

Nose:  Almost a hint of smoke with the caramel.  Leather and playdough.  Orange and wine-y grape notes.  Quite digging the nose here.  The wine is rather restrained.  Sweet and spicy.  Nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger…none overpowering.  Nose outshines the palate a bit, but they are quite in balance really.

Palate:  Now the wine is a little more vocal.  Sweet fruits from the grape influence:  cherry, orange and some more berry-type fruits.  Nice spice blend.  A hint of something mature buried in here too.  Maybe an older cask or two, or perhaps just great wood with the right amount of calming influence on the volatile spirits and fortified grape juice.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt