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Monday, February 20, 2023

Dalmore Port Wood Reserve (US release)

Here are the top three reasons that the name "Dalmore" has rarely been mentioned on this blog during the 11.5 years I've reviewed spirits here:
  1. Their bottling plant suffers from an dangerously excessive water supply. I mean, that's why their whiskies are so aggressively diluted, right?
  2. As single malt sales began warming up 10 years ago, Dalmore declared itself a luxury brand, boosting prices on its age-stated malts higher than any other brand, save (maybe) Macallan. Meanwhile Dalmore single malt offers nothing quality-wise that every other sherry cask whisky doesn't. So it was luxury-because-we-say-so, which is my least favorite thing next to......
  3. Richard Paterson ostentatiously dumping whisky on the floor is the douchiest whisky thing ever recorded on video, which is saying something considering the competition. You gonna get down on the floor and clean that up yourself, Dick? Didn't think so.
Anyway, I have two good friends who like(d) Dalmore's single malt, and they graciously provided me with samples from their bottles. So I'm going to do one week of Dalmore reviews then avoid them forever, unless more bourbon cask indie releases appear.

I'll start off with Dalmore's standard Port Wood Reserve release. Ah yes, "Reserve". That's Scotch for "three to five years old". So of course it costs $100.

Pro: It's bottled at the very-un-Dalmore strength of 46.5%abv!

Started out a Pro but turned into a ???: Its contents started out in American oak, yay! Then half stayed in American oak, yay! The other half spent an unspecified amount of time in tawny port casks, and was then blended with the American oak portion.

Distillery: Dalmore
Region: Highlands (Northern)
Ownership: Emperador Distillers Inc (via White & Mackay)
Range: The Principal Collection
Age: ???
Maturation: Step 1 - Matured in American oak. Step 2 - Half re-casked into tawny port casks. Step 3 - Marry both halves together.
Alcohol by Volume: 46.5%
Chillfiltered? I don't know
Colorant Added? Probably
(thank you to BR for this sample from his bottle!)


Whew, the nose starts off fusty like a dusty, which I kinda like. Even after that characteristic wanes, it leaves behind a nice dirty edge. Beyond the fust lies fudge, roses, raspberries and lemon peel.

Less of the dusty fusty on the palate, though here it reads more like Loch Lomond funk, and it dissipates quickly. Unfortunately it's replaced by tannins. On the hand, its sweetness is well moderated by tangy berries and tart citrus.

Berry jam leads the finish, though it's not too sweet. Bitter oak lingers in the background.


The nose wins by a good length, a common occurrence with cask-heavy spirits, but the palate is better than I'd expected. The finish was not. I'm not sure if everyone will find that same quirky character in the nose and palate (Serge's notes suggest something sulfuric), so this might be a Rorschach test for some. I think it could have been an interesting competitor for Glenmo's Quinta Ruban, had the Reserve been priced more realistically. But alas, Dalmore.

Availability - North America, Europe, and Asia
Pricing - $100+
Rating - 80

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