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Dalmore 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch

Review: Dalmore 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch  85/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted February 16, 2012

Since 1839, the Dalmore Distillery has been producing single malt whisky. The still-house contains 8 unique stills, 4 ‘flat top’ wash stills, and 4 ‘cold water jacket’ spirit stills each uniquely shaped and sized. The whisky is said to gain its distinctive character because of these unique stills and the order in which the distillate is ran through them. The whisky is aged in two types of oak barrels, first fill bourbon barrels from Kentucky, and aged sherry casks from the Spanish Sherry House Gonzalez. Because the distillery is located (near sea level) at the north shores of the Firth of Cromarty, the sea-facing dunnage warehouses are constantly influenced by the briny sea-air which also adds a unique distinctiveness to the Dalmore Malt.

I have been informed that the Dalmore 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch has recently underwent a change in its construction. Formerly the whisky was predominately made from stocks aged in Kentucky Bourbon barrels; however, the whisky is now produced with much more stocks aged in sherry casks. The whisky will now carry more of the sherry influence in its flavour profile with perhaps a richer rounder taste than before.

I recently received a bottle of the new Dalmore 12 Year Old to showcase at a private tasting event for my Rum Club. After the tasting I managed to pick up another bottle for the purpose of this review.

In the Bottle 4.5/5

The Dalmore 12 Year Old whisky is housed in a rectangular black box (not shown) which features the golden stag emblem on the front. The bottle (shown left) also features the golden stag emblem prominently with a simple understated label underneath. I like the unique bottle shape and the quality corked topper I see. I would prefer some tasting notes as part of the presentation, especially as the whisky has recently undergone a change in the manner in which it is aged.

In the Glass 8.5/10

The colour of the Dalmore 12 Year Old is a waxy brownish bronze. Reddish highlights are apparent when you hold the whisky up to the light.

When I poured the whisky into my glencairn glass the immediate nose was complex and tainted with the aroma of the sherry cask. Dark treacle (caramelized sugars)  and dried fruit (raisins and prunes) drift out of the glass with a light but firm imprint of oak.  As I let the glass decant, the dry fruit gains more expression, and I also began to sense some orange peel and almond  in those breezes above the glass. There is perhaps a bit of candied sweetness building as well which is very enticing.

In the Mouth 50/60

The entry onto the palate leads with the smoky dry fruity flavours of dates and raisins. A few cherries pop into the mix, and this carries a flavour very similar to Christmas fruitcake. Some peppery spiciness is apparent as is an impression  of orange peel. Caramel toffee, cocoa and hints of coffee round out the initial flavour which is very interesting and quite delicious.

As the glass breathes, that orange peel I noticed earlier is moving towards marmalade, and  baking spices (in particular cinnamon and vanilla) build within the mixture. The whisky seems to gain sweetness as it breathes.  The mouth feel is smooth, though lightly heated, and I am enjoying the Dalmore 12 very much.

In the Throat 13.5/15

There is just a little burn which heats things up a little but it is a pleasant spicy sort of burn which any whisky drinker will relish. Dollops of dark bittersweet chocolate and espresso coffee appear in the finish trailed by baking spices and dry fruit.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

The Dalmore 12 Year Old is a very pleasant whisky. This is not a sherry bomb by any stretch of the imagination. It is lighter than most Sherry cask whiskies I have tried with a nice balance between the smoky dry fruit flavours and the elements of caramel and fruitcake.  I quite like it, and for what it is worth, the members of my tasting club seemed to like it perhaps even a little more than me.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe

Tarnished Brass
For the most part I sipped the Dalmore 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch neat or on the rocks during my tasting sessions.  It is pleasantly complex with some nice subtleties of flavour to tease the palate.  However, I am a mixer at heart, and I firmly believe that the best cocktails are those mixed with the best of ingredients.  In that vein of thought, The flavour profile of the Dalmore 12 seems to me to be ideally suited for cocktails similar to the Rusty Nail.  I thought I would do a variation on the Rusty Nail using  Glayva instead of Drambuie.

Glayva is much sweeter to my palate than Drambuie is, so I modified the ratios slightly to accommodate, and I call my drink Tarnished Brass. It is surprisingly good!

Tarnished Brass

2 oz Scotch Whisky
1/2 oz Glayva
lemon slice for garnish

First fill rocks glass with ice
Add the Scotch Whisky and the Glayva
Stir gently
Garnish with a lemon slice.


I am always asked what my numbers actually mean. In order to provide clarification, you may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)


2 Responses to “Dalmore 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch”

  1. rus said

    chip ,was happier with the previous batches. it is ok …i think i agree with you cheers russ

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