Why, hello! What have we here? Gotta admit I didn’t expect to like this one even half as much as I did. I’m not the biggest Dalmore fan. In fact…I actually despise much of what they stand for: Premiumization for the sake of itself; generic, weak and adulterated malts; countless overpriced expressions, etc. This is one of the companies very much responsible for the rising costs of whisky today.
Having said all of that…there is a basic truth I adhere to above all others when it comes to whisky: Basic Aristotelian thought. A is A. A good whisky is a good whisky. If my nose and palate gravitates toward something, so be it. Much like guilty pleasures in music, why not just embrace something that appeals instead of adhering to preconceptions of what it is ok to like? I don’t suspend my moral judgements in cases like this, but I do concede quality where it is to be found. Distill it down to its bare essence and the approach I take is that if I enjoy it, that’s all that matters. Chill-filtration, artificial coloring, age-statement or no, cheap or expensive, blend or single malt. All of these, though I may still take exception, become secondary factors if the whisky is good. This Vintage ’95 is certainly that.
Unfortunately, for both the good folk at Dalmore who may want my money, and for myself, who simply can’t afford most of them, the only Dalmore releases I’ve ever really cottoned to were the very mature ones (read: pricey). I think that’s probably why I find so much to like in this accessable and affordable 1995 Age Of Exploration.
The specs on this one say it spent time in three different barrels: American white oak, Madeira and Oloroso. And, while I’m having trouble finding an age or the actual release date for this one, I’ve read a few suggestions of 15 years, but can’t seem to find any basis for that number. So let’s say this isn’t an age-stated, nor a non-age-stated malt. It is a Vintage release. Limited to a mere 1800 bottles too.
This, to me, is quintessential ‘Scotch’. Like the prototypical, Platonic ‘form’ version of what a single malt is supposed to be. So…now that I’ve been pretentious enough to name drop two of history’s most reknowned philosophers in one post, let’s move on to tasting notes…
Nose: Chocolate ganache. Cinnamon. Cherry coulis. Great jammy fruits and smoky toffee. Orange and some grapefruit zest. Great, clean lumberyard oak notes. Eucalyptus. A lot of spice, almost like a heavy rye or bourbon cask influence. I’ve read a few opinions that mention sulphur, but with all due respect, them folks are off their rockers. I’m fairly sensitive to the stuff (not JM sensitive, but still fairly attuned to picking it up), but am not finding even a whiff.
Palate: Chocolate. Oak. Cinnamon sticks. Very juicy arrival before the slight tannic notes take charge. Again…a lot of spice, almost like there’s been a bit of bourbon poured in here. Very dark dried fruits lead into an orchard fruit mix of mealy pear and crunchy apple. Pepper and ginger. More oak. Not the best of finishes, but not bad either.
Thoughts: This is a really incredible surprise. Not every note is perfect but the odd bit of dissonance adds character to the overall tone. A very likeable malt from a distillery that is easy to look down upon. One final note…this was incredibly priced. I think it was about $85 or so locally.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt