Another day, another awesome lunch with a boozemaker: A few weeks ago I had lunch with Richard Paterson, the Master Blender for Whyte & Mackay. White & Mackay is the company that owns The Dalmore and other single and blended scotch whiskies. We didn't get time to discuss whatever exciting things may be happening in the back end of the company, as since 2007 it has been owned by Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya, a guy who wants to get laws changed to be able to sell flavored scotch. (Ain't gonna happen.)
The Dalmore is located in the Northern part of the Highlands, north past Loch Ness near Glenmorangie. It was founded in 1839 with money made from the Opium War.
To my mouth, The Dalmore tastes less fruity than most Highland scotch, emphasizing more tobacco, hay, and ash notes than the plum and pear notes of other brands. The 12-year-old to me is all that. The 15 comes in with stronger tobacco, a touch of coffee, and lots of bitter chocolate notes on top of this.
The Gran Reserva used to known as the Cigar Malt but they changed the name (partially because of the change in smoking laws in the world). Paul Pacult gives this 5-stars and says "For the price, may just be the finest bargain in all of Scotch whisky, single malt or blended." As Paterson noted in our tasting, the Gran Reserva has a much different texture than the others in the line. I get it, but I actually don't like this one at all.
I do, however, like the King Alexander III. It has six different barrel finishes- former cabernet sauvignon, port, madiera, marsala, Knob Creek bourbon, and sherry barrels. I could taste many of the barrels at the same time in this whisky, but not in endless waves of flavors that come one after another. Interesting stuff.
Groovy news: next year they're changing all the bottles to use the raised metal stag head on all the bottles as is only on the expensive expressions now. Very cool, and this will ensure the bottles stay on in peoples' bars as water decanters long after the whisky is gone.