The Minty’s Scotch Week: The Dalmore Whisky and its Relationship with Sherry
The Minty’s Scotch Week swings around to The Dalmore.
I recently attended at tasting of The Dalmore at Redbird. The tasting was led by Single Malt Specialist for Whyte and Mackay, Craig Bridger. Whyte and Mackay is the parent company of The Dalmore.
This tasting was fascinating as we took a deeper look at sherry and how it plays into The Dalmore’s history.
I once explained to someone that one usually gets into whisk(e)y in this order:
- American (usually bourbon)
Then the world opens up.
But let’s take a deeper look at Scotch whisky or as the Scots call it: whisky.
Most people start off with blends, get into single malts by first trying the sherry casks and then eventually getting into peated. This is a generalization as some whisky drinkers never move past their favorites. Everything is nuanced.
The Dalmore has a special relationship with wine and sherry producer Gonzales Byass. The Dalmore has access to sherry casks that have held sherry for years. With the demand these days, other whiskys only have access to casks that are essentially just flavored with sherry. These casks held sherry for the minimum of 18 months, the shortest length of time needed to be called sherry. The Dalmore uses casks that are much older.
- The Dalmore 12
- The Dalmore 15
- The Dalmore 18
- King Alexander III
Along with these sherries:
- Oloroso (Matusalem)
- Palo Cortado (Apostoles)
- Oloroso Dulce (also known as amoroso)
The 12 is matured initially in American white oak (ex bourbon) for nine years. Then half spends time in Matusalem oloroso casks that are 30 years old for three years. Then the whisky is reunited and you have your 12 years.
The 15 spends 12 years in American white oak (also ex bourbon) before divided into three different sherry casks; amoroso, Apostoles (palo cortado) and Matusalem oloroso for three years before reunited. Amoroso is oloroso sweetened with Pedro Ximenez.
The 18 is matured for 14 years in American white oak (ex bourbon) and then four years in 30-year-old Matusalem oloroso casks from Gonzalez Byass.
As a special surprise, Craig brought the King Alexander III for a taste. It’s named after the king Colin of Kintail saved. He was the chief of the Mackenzie clan. He saved King Alexander III from a charging stag. For his brave deed, the king awarded him the use of the 12 pointed stag as the clan’s crest along with some lands and the motto, “I shine, not burn” (lucero non uro). Centuries passed and two Mackenzie brothers bought a distillery which is why The Dalmore’s emble, is the 12-pointed Royal Stag.
The King Alexander III whisky is a unique six-cask finish which includes ex bourbon, Matusalem oloros sherry, madeira, port, marsala and Cabernet Sauvignon.
With our tasting, Craig brought along six scents we sniffed with our whisky to get a sense of aromas. Eventually I came to realize the chocolate orange is the ideal Dalmore whisky note. It’s what their master distiller, Richard Patterson goes for. He’s known as “The Nose” in the industry.
I look forward to trying more special casks finishes and also the Constellation collection from The Dalmore.
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