Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A Dash of Sherry: Dalwhinnie Distiller's Edition 1996

Over the past few weeks I've consciously been poking the eponymous Peat Monster, which seems all the more fitting now with the summer drawing to a close and the rains starting to blow over. This week, however, I have decided to take an alternate tack and approach a higher cost sherried whisky in the Dalwhinnie Distiller's Edition.

I've already looked at Dalwhinnie's entry level dram which is a really great scotch, but as ever you must move to pastures new.

Each year Dalwhinnie release their Distiller's Edition in line with lots of the other Diageo single malt lines and those from Dalwhinnie are always finished in sherry oak of some kind.

The edition that I have to review is the 1996 vintage which was bottled in 2012 - for all those for whom numbers make no sense that means this whisky has been matured for somewhere around 16 years, with the last part of maturation for this whisky taking place in Oloroso casks.

On the nose, the first hit is of slightly smoky but jammy prune and caramel. There is a really nice note of boiling sugar (if you've made fudge you'll know what I mean) with some slightly more tropical fruit like banana and citrus.

There is also some dark sweet spices, and an additional slightly herbaceous quality of rosemary and heather with just a touch of violet as well. The nose is really nice and rounded with a nice complexity, but is really inviting with the overlying sweetness.

On the palate, there is quite a surprising drying effect to start with, that somewhat goes against the sweet nose, but isn't that staggering considering the sherry cask maturation. The first significant thing to raise it's heard is the spices, which are followed by dried fruit and the lightest touch of peat fire. On the finish there is more pepper spice and general heat that comes through - served neat, it overpowers the whisky a little in my opinion, so for me this dram is definitely better with just a touch of water.

You can certainly taste the sherry here, though the Olorosso character is prominent throughout the whisky, and adds so much depth.

This is a really nice sherried dram, and there's a good deal of body mixed with the complexity. The vintage that I have isn't available for general sale anymore really (except as a sample from Master of Malt), and it was priced around £60 in the UK when it was available and honestly I would't (and didn't) pay that for this whisky.

However, other vintages are available at online retailers, but there does seem to be some vintage variation and price peaks and troughs to match. I would suggest trying the 1997 from Master of Malt for £57.37.

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