As mentioned in our Dalmore 12 review, the reddit community does not like Dalmore much. There are some good points: they’re a bit watery (and a bit pricey). But the broader market likes Dalmore; some because of the shiny stag (it’s the royal stag bequeathed upon the Mackenzie clan that owned the distillery for a while) and many because it is approachably sweetness.
The Dalmore 15 is the one that the whisky nerds will typically prefer of the Dalmores, so I was excited to do the flight to compare the Dalmore 12, 15, and 18 at the OneUp bar in Union Square of SF. It also helped that the cost of the flight (in which our kind waiter meted out full pours of the whiskies) was comparable to the cost of purchasing the Dalmore 18 alone ($36 for the flight vs. $29 for the Dalmore 18). Surprisingly though, it ended up being the lowest scored one of our tasting. There’s something very odd about the finish (tannic notes) that rubbed off poorly on both of us. We both scored the line-up independently but ended up with the low being the 15.
It may have done better if it wasn’t in the flight; it’s quite different than the 12 and the 18 (spicy and dry versus the sweetness of the other two). It may have also done differently if we had tasted it at a different point in time – it was just unexpectedly savory.
- Score - 5.5/105.5/10
Nose: Earthy and savory. Mushrooms, sage, and herbal. Saline. Plum, sherry, raisin. Palate: Caramel meets Sherry. Orange rinds. Candied apple. Salted fruits. Slightly effervescent feeling. Slightly yeasty from the sherry. Finish: Ends in brine and tomato oil. Tannic. Hate the finish. Very bitter and astringent. Summary Overall: 5.5/10. Average whisky. I think we would have scored it higher if we liked the finish mores. There’s also some of the overly herbal notes that some sherry-cask finished whiskies develop that I don’t like. Bought for: $36/flight at OneUp in San Francisco.
- Cask: 12 years in ex-bourbon. The remaining 3 years are finished in three sherry casks: Matusalem, Apostoles and Amoroso and then married.
- ABV: 40%
- Age: 15 years
About (copied from our Dalmore 12 article)
- Founded by Alexander Matheson, who made a fortune in the Chinese opium trade and retired to Scotland at only 34 years old. He never operated it but instead leased it to the Sunderland family, who were the ones who actually ran the distillery.
- Later purchased by the Mackenzie family, who were the ones who started the stag crest on the bottles. The Mackenzie clan’s chief had legendarily saved the Scottish King, Alexander III, from a charging royal stag and in gratitude, Alexander III bestowed upon the Mackenzie clan the right to use the royal stag as a symbol.
- Read the Dalmore 12 review