My motto's always been, "When it's right, it's right."
I'm kicking myself for not buying another bottle of this when I had a chance (1 of only 238 from the cask, now sold out). This is one sexy whisky, all dressed up in Speyside gentility and then nestled in the loving arms of a Pedro Ximinez (PX) cask for 10 months. 10 months? You'd hardly know it from the color. Although it's actually more along the lines of a rich mahogany, I'm tempted to classify this as a member of the purple food group.
Dalmore is a heavy name to be throwing around these days. Frankly, I'm kind of surprised they parted with this cask (although my notes on the palate will let you know that this just doesn't fit much of their usual flavor profile, making it unsuitable for many blends). You probably know Dalmore for its sterling reputation (it always does well at auction), a recognizable name brand Scotch along the lines of Glen-this or Glen-that but with an ultra premium / luxury status to boot. That, or it's possible you've been drawn into their cigar malt marketing (actually a decent whisky), or it was (absolutely nothing wrong with this) gifted to you because "It's Dalmore. So and so drinks Dalmore so it must be good stuff." Much of Dalmore's celebrity status comes from the gravitas of its master blender, a man you can't not watch talk about his whisky. Take it away, Richard "The Nose" Paterson (an educational experience; I'll wait until you come back).
The nose does not surprise on this whisky. This is one of those drams that lets you know where it's going. "If you like it, you can take it. If you don't, send it right back. I want to be on you." Dalmore, ever the man's man, stands there as confident as ever in his velvet smoking jacket. But there's lipstick on his collar and a sweet, winy perfume all over him. Someone got lucky. I'm getting a monstrous praline hit, suggesting that we may have another froyo match coming on. There's a crunchy bite of Heath bar, all chocolate and toffee like - perhaps this is more Willy Wonka than Ron Burgundy. Raisin Bran and sugar dates underneath it all. C'est magnifique! He's a well respected man about town, doing the best things not conservatively at all. Take a bow, Gene Wilder!
That must have been one frisky PX cask. On the nose it's just right, but on the palate... it's almost too much. It practically crosses the line into a cuvee. In fact, comparing it to other famous PX whiskies I own (Bruichladdich 1992 Sherry Edition, Bruichladdich 407 PX, Auchentoshan Three Wood - not PX exclusive) this takes the cake. Similar to international bitterness units (IBU's) for hopped beer, or phenols for peated whiskies, I am now going to enforce a unitary standard on the PXization of whisky liquids. I'll call it the Cuvee Approachiation Measure (CAM). Auchentoshan's expression earns it a solid 1 on the CAM scale: "Suited to the character of the spirit." Those two Bruichladdichs each earn 2 CAMS: "Enough to alter the dynamic of the spirit in an unusual way." This Dalmore? 2.5 CAMS: "It is dangerous to be this close to 3 CAMS. Only attempt this if you know what you're doing." This whisky knows what it's doing.
The rich fruits don't let up on the palate - they just keep rolling and rolling. Keep in mind that these are sweet, dry, fibrous fruits, not anything like a fruit salad. I'm sitting here grilling a tri-tip out on my porch and this dram combined with a good hickory smoke are making my mouth water for succulent, umami-rich food stuffs. People will compare this palate sensation with "tobacco" or "leather", only because they lack the words to describe the dark, dry, syrupy richness that's swirling in that 46.1% ABV (surprisingly cask strength). Would you eat tobacco? Okay, leather? Right. I'll say this: on the tip of your tongue and the back of your throat you definitely have the impression of a wine. It's spicy, it's tangy, it's full bodied like a Shiraz. On your mid palate this thing goes nuts with the cereals, sugars and classic Dalmore richness. BIIIIG CARAMEL. You can pronounce caramel however you'd like. Now that you've read my notes on the nose, and this paragraph in search of meaning (or vainglorious nosing notes), I'll just post this:
It's a work of dessert art.
Things this whisky pairs well with: friends, special occasions, good unfiltered pipe tobacco, vanilla froyo, pie crusts, romantic anniversaries, daytime lovemaking, night-time lovemaking, baby showers, blind dare tastings, and quiet readings on a porch. Possibly I have experienced all of these.
Tasting is a synesthetic experience. In this blog, every whisky gets a song - one that describes, suits, and evokes. I review any whisky that suits my fancy, and some that don't. I don't give scores. You'll know whether it's a winner or loser when we peel back its mysteries and start putting pen to paper.