The Dalmore 12yo (40%, OB, Circa 2004)

Time for Dalmore, or The Dalmore as it’s called. I haven’t reviewed a Dalmore before on these pages, nor have I tasted Dalmore for a long time. So in a way I’m getting re-acquainted to it. Looking at my list of scores I have to say that Dalmore usually is not a very high scoring malt for me. Of course there are bottling that fetch high scores but when that happens it’s a Dalmore after some extensive maturation. However, the highest scoring Dalmore in my book is a Dalmore 12yo! A Duncan Macbeth bottling for the Italian market from around 1963! I won’t compare the two, since times have changed, but let’s have a look at a more modern 12yo. This example was bottled around 2004, so not yesterdays malt either…

The Dalmore 12yo (40%, OB, Circa 2004)Color: Full gold.

Nose: Powdery, creamy and slightly sour. Old bananas. Distant Sherry influence. Paper, I somehow smell a lot of paper in this. Malty, burnt sugar and some alcohol (like smelling Vodka). It smells a bit of caramel coloring. (Everybody tells you it doesn’t chance the smell and taste, but just try it for yourself and make your own mind up). Yet the whole smells just a bit different from other entry-level Malts. This is not bad, not bad at all (in the nose department).

Taste: A little bite from the wood, a little bit of dishwashing liquid too. Burnt sweetness you can find in some Rums. Did I mention some soapiness yet, indirectly maybe. Very nutty too. The nuttiness and the particular sweetness make up the signature of this malt. Crushed almonds ánd marzipan. A nice touch of woody bitterness towards the finish. Lots of markers that may well be typical for Dalmore. Finish is weaker than the body is, and lets it down a bit.

In the end a very different Highland Malt. Maybe not everything is in balance, not everything seems to fit together. It feels like a malt that was made to be accessible, but also a little bit different. I’m guessing this has a specific fan base. In the quest to make it different it isn’t quite congruent yet, but you have to love it for being slightly different.

Points: 80

Arran “Amarone Cask Finish” (50%, OB, Violet label, Circa 2012)

Here is the second Arran on these pages. Earlier I reviewed a pretty good 16yo and usually Single cask bottlings at Cask Strength are very good to. When they start to fiddle a bit with their Whiskies I tend to not like Arran that much any more. So I don’t have high hopes for this funky colored Amarone finished Arran…

Arran Amarone Cask Finish (50%, OB, Violet label, Circa 2012)Color: Salmon (Somewhere between orange, bronze, light red and pink). Very strange.

Nose: Malty and very winey. Wine gums. We know its Amarone wine, but it smells more like a less fruity, Ruby Port. Fruity and dusty, woody and vegetal. This is hardly Whisky, but it isn’t wine either. Very simple and the wine overpowers everything. It’s hard to discern anything. No sense in nosing this any further.

Taste: Sweet, milk chocolate mousse, hard fruity candy, but not wine gums. Pretty harsh. To sweet for my taste and its a bit anonymous. What is it actually? The finish has staying power, but is a bit, ehhh, unpleasant for my taste. Funky, but not terrible. Don’t get me wrong.

Yet not uncommon, this is more or less one of the strangest colored Whiskies of late You don’t expect to have Whisky in your glass as long as you don’t smell it. Actually the smell isn’t quite characteristic for a Single Malt either. The Amarone wine dominates the color, but not the nose and for the taste, well, you be the judge. I would recommended this to a bartender, because to me it seems an excellent spirit for a summery cocktail. Something has to be done with this…

Points: 74

Ben Nevis 21yo 1992/2013 (46%, The Ultimate, Sherry Butt #2312, 695 bottles)

Next we’ll have a look at an indie Ben Nevis. I love Ben Nevis, it usually is a malt that strikes a chord with me. For me Ben Nevis is still a distillery working today that is able to churn out very good Whiskies, and for sure is one I’ll always keep an eye out for. That said I also am realistic. Not every indie Ben Nevis is good. It isn’t a distillery I would buy indie bottles from without tasting first. Although pretty good, The Golden Cask Ben Nevis I reviewed earlier, did have a strange, funky finish, which makes it, in my opinion, less of a daily drinker. The Ben Nevis we have at hand here was sourced from Signatory. Just have a look at the cask numbers The Ultimate and Signatory are putting out from 1992.

Ben Nevis 21yo 1992/2013 (46%, The Ultimate, Sherry Butt #2312, 695 bottles)Color: Light gold, with a slight pink hue

Nose: Yeah, now we’re talking. Fatty, buttery, vanilla and fruity. Lots happening and everything seems to fit together quite nicely. Fantastic fruitiness, all sorts of mixed up fruits, red, black and yellow fruits. Almost impossible to discern any of them. Caramel, mocha and strawberry combined with sweat. The wood shows itself here as nutty. Yes this is very special. Do I detect some old school Whisky here?

Taste: Sweet but also a little bit acidic. Very appetizing. Some burnt notes and quite spicy without it being woody. Marzipan and again lots of fruits with some nuts. Highly complex, and I’m imagining this amount of flavor and its complexity might not be for everyone. Hints of smoke, and it has a curiously hidden sweetness to it. Maybe its high in fruits that it only seems to be sweet. Pure enjoyment. Is it without flaws than? Yep this Whisky suffers a bit from a weak finish. Everything that is so well-balanced in this Whisky is absent from the finish. It has some power but after the big body, the finish is a bit weak, and missing some of the big flavors that were so apparent in the body. But hey, this to me is still a pretty good Whisky.

I have to admit, I love Ben Nevis. Most of the times I encounter one, albeit blind or not, I seem to like it. It has characteristics I do like personally. I rated a full bottle of this 86 Points. This review is written about the last drops from the bottle. It is excellent and since I’m going to score this even higher, I’d say this needs some air people.

Points: 88

Springbank 10yo (46%, OB, 10/342)

Why not try another Springbank. This one does have an age statement. It’s 10 years old. Just like the CV reviewed earlier, this one was bottled (late) in 2010.

Springbank 10yo (46%, OB)Color: Pale orange gold.

Nose: Clay and spicy. Fruity, creamy and nutty, almonds. Toasted wood. Smallest hint of coal and old dried orange peel. Compared with the CV this definitely has seen some ex-Sherry casks. Nice nose with lots more balance than the CV. Here we also have a papery note. Not only fruity, but also floral, more of everything and a lot extra. Floral part smells a bit like soap, and after that the fruitiness shines through. Lovely.

Taste: Clay, balanced and pretty sweet, with a small woody bite. Nutty again and definitely some peat. Good stuff this is, maybe a bit too heavy on the sugared fruits. Definitely sweeter than I expected. Toffee and cream, and where the nose and the CV have some rough edges, this 10yo if far more polished. Velvety. Good stuff, but I would have liked this even better if the nose matched the nose a bit more. Hints of petrol, we’re moving in the right way again. Sweet sweat, lovely.

Unique stuff and there is nothing like Springbank. Yes this may not be for everybody, so if you are the regular hotel bar drinker or are only into Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Glenmorangie and Balvenie, this may not be for you. You might not like this, but if you aren’t, this is something special. You must try Springbank. Maybe not the best expression, but for this price and with this heritage you can’t go wrong. Probably one of the best 10yo around (with the Benromach 10yo).

Points: 85


Springbank “CV” (46%, OB, 10/12)

What does 10/12 mean, you might ask? Well, usually there are codes printed on the back of the front label, which you can read it through the glass. I was told the digits before the “/” depict the year of bottling, and the digits after the “/” is an operation number for that year, which in this case is a bottling run. Here 10/12 stands for the 12th operation of 2010, probably in January. In this case a bottling run. But also a marriage of casks or re-racking of casks get an operation number, so it’s not only bottling runs that get an operation number. There was at least one other bottling done of the Springbank CV in 2010 and it’s code is 10/123, probably somewhere from march through may of 2010.

Springbank CV (46%, OB)Color: Pale gold

Nose: Funky, raw and oily with added citrus notes. Reminds me of Kilkerran. Clay and yellow fruits. When concentrated, peppermint. Nice fresh oak, tree sap. Lemon curd and overall very intense and young aroma’s. Hint of unripe pineapple with vanilla and distant smoke. The wood also gives a nice spiciness to it, given some time to breathe. Good nose.

Taste: Less oily and seems peaty. Young, not completely balanced yet. peppery, paprika attack. Again this reminds me of Kilkerran. Oily and hidden sweetness. Traces of cardboard and oaky bitterness. It’s youth comes through in the simpleness of the dram, meaning that it’s not very complex and I was quite surprised by the weakish finish.

The initial mouthfeel is nice, so is the body. The nose shows a nice potential. Good Whisky just too young. Whisky like this needs some age to make it to the finish. I like Springbank and even here a lot is working for me, just the finish, thin, paper and watery, and that from a Whisky that was bottled at 46% ABV. Quality stuff, just bottled to early.

Points: 84

Glenrothes “Select Reserve” (43%, OB, Old Label, Circa 2011)

Yes another cannon ball bottle with Glenrothes Whisky in it. This time no vintage, but yes, we do have another new Whisky without an age statement. Probably young stuff, also since the Whisky isn’t very expensive. Nope not expensive at all. The bottle still has a cork in it albeit a plastic one. Nothing wrong with NAS Whiskies, just have a look at any Kilkerran for example, and the plastic cork is far better suitable for its job than a natural cork, with all is problems, like breaking whilst opening the bottle. I just hope the solvents in the soft plastic of the cork don’t mess with the taste of your Whisky. I just hear the industry whispering in the wind that Whisky wasn’t meant to be kept at home for a long time. Ha!

This Whisky costs about the same as The Glenlivet French Oak I reviewed last. That Whisky does have an age statement: 15 years old! Lets keep that one in kind whilst reviewing this Glenrothes.

Glenrothes Select Reserve (43%, OB, Old Label, Circa 2011)Color: Light gold

Nose: Malty and lots of vanilla and cream. Marshmallows. Dusty, slightly grassy (dry) and in the distance a wee bit of white pepper. It’s also fruity but I can’t get my finger on it, what kind of fruit is actually here. You know it’s fruity, but it seems to borrow fruity elements of loads of different kinds of fruit. Hints of dry paint and Macchiato Coffee.

Taste: Light, fruity and thin. Sweet. This one is quickly gone, yet the finish is warming and the fruit part of it is pleasant. Sweetish and creamy. Little bit of banana and lemon pudding. Definitely malty. I would have never guessed this is 43% ABV.

For a middle-of-the-road dram, I liked the nose of the Glenlivet 15yo French oak better. On the palate this Glenrothes is less interesting and a bit soft. The finish is too short too. Comparing this with the Glenlivet 15yo French Oak Reserve, even though that one is less fruity, it was more exciting due to the backbone the oak gave it. This Glenrothes is softer and fruitier but even though it is all that, it isn’t more pleasant. It is slightly less balanced and a wee bit weaker (also in the finish), so I score this a point below the Glenlivet French Oak Reserve.

Points: 81

The Glenlivet 15yo “French Oak Reserve” (40%, OB, 09.11.2009)

After the oldie from 1975 and the two recent “special” releases, Alpha and Guardians Chapter, here we look into a more “normal” release by The Glenlivet. This is a 15yo standard release Glenlivet, where the tipple came in contact with some French oak. French oak is known for impairing a slightly more tannic flavour to Whisky, whereas American oak usually gives off a more Vanilla or Toffee note. I expect a very easy drinkable Whisky with maybe a little “bite”.

Glenlivet 15yo "French Oak Reserve" (40%, OB)Color: (Light) gold, slightly pink?

Nose: Altogether light and slightly malty. Nice hints of wood. A little bit of toffee, vanilla and sweet apple. Very middle of the road, but also decent and pleasant. It smells like a good daily drinker. A little bit of dust on wood and nuttiness. Picture dust floating in the air in the sunlight in a room with unpolished wooden furniture. Also a touch of oil from tangerine-skins. Nothing out of the ordinary for a decent Single Malt Whisky, yet nice nevertheless.

Taste: Sweet, creamy with toffee and vanilla. A little tannic bite from the wood. Otherwise again very pleasant and very middle of the road. Slighty malty and nutty. Daily drinker written on its forehead. Slightly bitter on the finish, like licking walnut skin for a moment. Obviously from this particular type of oak, French you know.

A very reasonably priced 15yo, which offers a middle-of-the-road experience, with a little bite from the French oak. Pleasant but hardly entertaining, good but nothing special. Especially since it has aged for 15 years, in a time where all Whiskies are released without an age statement. It probably sells a lot, and why not. There is nothing wrong with it and it isn’t a bad Whisky either. Bang-for-your buck material, or a starters Whisky at 40% ABV  if you are interested in the effect tannins can have from French oak. Good but a bit boring (for me).

Points: 82