Review: Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

15 yrs
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Dalwhinnie (Dalwhinnie, Scotland)

Dalwhinnie is one of the five “Classic” malts of Diageo (Cragganmore, Oban, Lagavulin, Glenkinchie, and Talisker), sharing the highland region of Scotland with Oban. Dalwhinnie means the “meeting place”, and it’s where 3 roads met upon which highland cattle would be driven and meet up before being taken to market. The climate is quite unique – it is both the second highest distillery in Scotland and also located at the coldest settlement in Great Britain. The distillery was built as part of Blended Scotch boom, and still makes a number of malts for blends.

Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Nose: Lovely clean, light apple juice and traditional British cider along with some oak, cedar, vanilla, and some very clean barley and malt. I keep wanting to describe this as floral, but it isn’t particularly – the nose just has a feel of a floral white wine with all the light and integrated aromas. If you search for it, there is some grassiness and oak too.

Taste: Slightly sour, with some rich (yet light) sweet barley, grapefruit, and lemon rind coming in before finishing in a lightly smoky finish. For such a light whisky, it certainly holds its own in having good complexity around the lightness. If you take in smaller sips, you the lightness and complexity comes through – with larger sips, you get richness of the malt. Despite the nice balance and complexity, it is light enough that if you don’t pay attention it tastes a bit like a slightly sweet vanilla spirit with a touch of malt.

Finish: Barley, but it’s not simple – even the barley is surrounded by some complexity. Apples, light oak, apple seeds, green tea, honey, earthy peat, and a touch of tannin. Vanilla and a bit of spices too. Some slightly out-of-place bitterness, too. Malt carries on for a long time – quite pleasant.

Very nice stuff – would be a great apertif. For me, an afternoon or early evening dram – I prefer more brooding drinks at night. This has been consistent, well-acknowledged, and well made throughout the years, and quite hard not to like- great value.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, nearly high, at $95. If Scotch was the only whisky category, this might be higher against the market. Some places, this is cheaper and higher value.