Fall is the time to put away the summer drinks and open a bottle of single malt Scotch. The old stuff warms the soul, whether you’re sitting by a crackling fire with a tumbler or nipping from a flask in the backcountry. While we condone a well-rounded collection of malts, before you reach for the usual suspects, you might want to consider The Dalmore. We had an opportunity to sample a quartet of whiskies from this highland distillery: the 12-year old, the 15, the Gran Reserva and the 1263 King Alexander III.
All four are well-balanced and smooth-drinking without any of the smoky peat of the island malts. The 12-year old is as fine an entry to a family of Scotches as you’ll find. Citrus-y and intense with a hint of spices, it starts strong and finishes the same, thanks to aging in Oloroso sherry and American white oak casks. The 15-year old continues the trend but with a mellower finish. Nestled between the two is the Gran Reserva, which is a blend of 10 to 15-year old malts aged in sherry and oak. It has a little more depth and roasted flavor than the other two. At the top of the range sits the 1263 King Alexander III, a $200 bottle of Scotch to set aside and sip on momentous days, like the first snowfall of the season or after a particularly good meal.
The aptly-named King (named for a well-loved king of Scotland) gets its complex flavors from being aged and finished in no less than six types of wood: French Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques, Madeira drums, sherry butts from Jerez de la Frontera, marsala barrels from Sicily, port pipes from the Douro and sweet bourbon barrels from Kentucky. The resulting whisky is like a controlled burn – the flavors rise and fall, leading from one to another – crushed almonds, berries, vanilla, caramel all come through from initial bite through a long finish. Truly a magnificent Scotch.
If you’re feeling particularly flush and adventurous, The Dalmore also sells a limited run of 1974 Scotch that was put into Bourbon casks in March of that year. But we’re content to work our way through The Dalmore’s more accessible offerings. Stock up now. It’s going to be a long winter.
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