Dalmore 12 year old is matured for 9 years in ex-bourbon casks. Then half of the liquid is re-racked into ex-oloroso (Matusalem style – an aged solera, where PX has been added to sweeten) sherry casks for a further 3 years of finishing, whilst the remainder continues to slumber in ex-bourbon. This latest edition was first released in 2008 replacing the previous 12 year old Dalmore and is quite dark in colour – certainly much darker than one might expect for a single malt where only 50% of the liquid has been matured in sherry casks for just three years. So, it is highly likely that E150a caramel colourant is in play here. The bottling is delivered at 40% and costs around £40 here in the UK.
Nose: Initially a touch shy out of the bottle, but opening with a bit a patience. Red berries – fresh and dried (particularly strawberry) are joined by some walnut nuttiness, white chocolate, honey and vanilla. There are some rich cakey (fruitcake) aromas here, and some very pleasant brown sugars, which are heightened by some fresh oaky spices – ginger in particular.
Taste: Sadly thin and underpowered from the get-go (though again, and somewhat strangely, I found that resting improved things). An initial wave of reduced fruits – marmalades and preserves, favouring berries, but with some orange in the mix also. Initially quite sweet and creamy, this aspect subsides quickly, with the whisky becoming increasingly dry and emphasising bitter spicing (vanilla and slightly earthy cinnamon ). Walnuts again, with raisins and some bready and biscuity flavours.
Finish: Short to medium, very drying and with a bite of alcohol. Ending with bakery flavours, bitter espresso coffee (the thick and dirty kind).
Dalmore 12 year old is one of those whiskies which I would describe as ‘fine’. There are not faults to speak of here, and yet the entire experience is fairly mundane with no real depth and little of the character that you can find in older Dalmore bottlings (assuming you have the size of wallet needed for older Dalmore bottlings). The nose, whilst initially shy did offer up some enticing sherry-driven flavours – however, the palate doesn’t completely follow through with these, going down a road of dry bitterness rather than the opulent sweetness that the nose suggests. Many would argue that the ABV of this one is too low – I’d not disagree, but, fundamentally, I don’t think that a 3% or even 6% addition would reshape this whisky in to anything more than it already is.