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Isle of Jura 10 Years Old

The Dalmore
12 Years Old
Single Highland
Malt Scotch Whisky


By Robert Plotkin

The Dalmore is located in the northern Highlands of Scotland about 20 miles from Inverness. Converted from a mill by Alexander Matheson, the distillery started production in 1841 and has the country's oldest working copper still head. It and the region's cool damp air and peat-impregnated waters contribute greatly to the elegance and complexity of The Dalmore's esteemed whiskies.

However, what distinguishes a good malt from an extraordinary one is the man behind the whisky. In this instance, the greatness of The Dalmore malts in large part can be attributed to master blender Richard Patterson.

Single malts are crafted in numerous steps—from fermenting and distilling malt to aging it in oak and blending the various constituent elements into a harmonious finished product. Too much or too little of any one spirit can cripple a whisky or render it ordinary. In this instance, there are few men as adept at the art and science of blending whiskies as The Dalmore's Patterson.

His considerable abilities are immediately evident in The Dalmore 12 Years Old Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky, a marvelous postprandial dram comprised of whiskies aged 12 years in American white oak and Oloroso sherry casks. The 80-proof malt has a luminous amber hue and an enticing bouquet layered with the aromas of cherries, sliced oranges, cinnamon and sherry. It's a skillfully balanced whisky possessing a velvety textured body and a delectable palate of toffee, spice, malt and citrus zest. The memorable finish is imbued with milk chocolate, vanilla and black licorice notes.

The award-winning Dalmore 18 Years Old Gran Reserva Single Hightland Malt Scotch Whisky is comprised of spirits aged 10-15 years—roughly 60 percent of which is matured in first-fill Oloroso sherry casks and 40 percent in American White Oak. After blending, the malt is further aged in upstanding sherry butts for six months to ensure full integration. The mahogany colored, 80-proof whisky has a satiny textured body and a wafting bouquet of toffee, citrus, honey and loads of spice. Upon entry it fills the mouth with an alluring array of dark chocolate, oranges, roasted coffee and malt. The warm lingering finish is semisweet and spicy with hints of citrus and smoke. It's voluptuous from the first sip to the last drop.

The Dalmore 15 Years Old Single Hightland Malt Scotch Whisky is a blend of malts matured entirely in sherry wood, specifically Matusalem, Apostoles and Amoroso butts from Jerez de la Frontera. Even with 100% sherry cask aging its malt characteristics still shine through. The dark amber whisky can best be described as elegant. It has a lushly textured body and a brilliant nose brimming with vanilla, cinnamon, dried fruit and salted nuts. The lavish palate features the long-lasting flavors of pears, baking spices and heaps of ginger and chocolate.

Released in August 2009, The Dalmore 18 Years Old Single Hightland Malt Scotch Whisky is a limited edition bottling aged for 14 years in American oak and finished in Matusalem sherry butts for another four. The result is a sophisticated, 86-proof malt loaded with style and finesse. It has a deep copper hue, a full round body and a generous nose redolent with the aromas of lavender, vanilla and cocoa. The palate is an extravaganza of cloves, citrus, toffee, dark chocolate and freshly ground coffee. Its extended finish is spicy, fruity and thoroughly satisfying.

The distillery's crowning achievement may well be The Dalmore 1263 King Alexander III Single Hightland Malt Scotch Whisky, a remarkable expression comprised of whiskies matured in 6 different types of oak. In a daunting undertaking, Patterson married together malts aged in Sicilian Madeira drums and Marsala barrels, Port pipes from the Douro, French cabernet sauvignon wine barriques, sherry butts from Jerez de la Frontera and ex-bourbon barrels from Kentucky.

The single malt is a masterpiece, both in its complexity and impeccable balance. It has a lustrous mahogany color and a bouquet saturated with the aromas of plums, malt and crushed almonds. The aromatics alone qualify this whisky as a work or art. The palate is equally captivating, a sumptuous offering of toffee, dark chocolate, dried fruit, oranges and black cherries. The finish is delicious and slightly peppery. Luxury never tasted so good.