Origin: Highlands (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Sherry refill
Added colouring: No
Average price: € 300.00
Official website: www.malts.com
Let’s take a leap back in time and go to Diageo’s Special Releases of 2006, when there was still no common theme in the labels and there were some very special bottlings.
This was the sixth annual edition of these limited releases, and to read the list is to shudder:
Brora 30yo 55.7%ABV
Caol Ila 8yo 59.8%ABV
Cragganmore 17yo 55.5%ABV
Lagavulin 12yo 57.5%ABV
Lagavulin 30yo 52.6%ABV
Port Ellen 27yo 54.2%
Talisker 25yo 56.9%ABV
Talisker 30yo 51.9%ABV
And of course this Dalwhinnie distilled in 1986, of which I was fortunate enough to receive a generous sample, which may be the least interesting of the nine on paper, but at cask strength and with this maturation could hold many surprises, as did the excellent 30yo of 2020.
The opening on the nose is rather dark and rough, the impact of the sherry is remarkable and brings intense notes of sour cherries, dates and dried figs, (over)ripe strawberries, nuts (almonds, hazelnuts), chocolate, coffee… it’s all so bright that the fruity notes tend almost to be rotten, musty. Over time, the tones are lowered allowing new aromas to emerge, the fruit is enriched with peach and apricot jam spread on wholemeal bread, with a subterranean vein of wax. Decadent and elegant.
On the palate it attacks with a lively splash of paprika and ginger, echoing the sherry score still tacked on ripe fruit in marmalade form, to which a good dose of orange is added. A slight bitterness balances the flavours, among which a consistent vegetal note makes its way. Creamy malt, leather and flashes of nuts complete the picture, very dry in length.
The finish is quite long, dry, vividly spicy, with nuts, berries, leather and vegetal, almost balsamic veins.
Almost dizzyingly rich on the nose, much quieter and more predictable in the mouth, nonetheless a whisky that doesn’t go unnoticed from a distillery not exactly known for its strong personality.