This is the fifth in a series of six reviews. The previous in the series can be found here.
The distilleries involved are what Diageo refers to as The Six Classic Malts and are comprised of Cragganmore, Dalwhinnie, Glenkinchie, Lagavulin, Oban, and Talisker. Each takes part in the DE program. Today, we’ll explore the 2023 Dalwhinnie Distiller’s Edition.
“Made in the highest and coldest working distillery in Scotland, with water from a loch at 2000 feet, Dalwhinnie whisky thrives on extreme conditions – creating a liquid as sweet and accessible as its highland home is remote.” – Diageo
The distillery was built in 1897 in the Scottish Highland region in an area called Dalwhinnie, which, in Gaelic, means “the meeting place.” Three major cattle-drove roads met at Dalwhinnie, which provided plenty of opportunity for illicit distillers and smugglers. However, until the distillery was built, no official record of whisky was made at Dalwhinnie. But it likely occurred anyway.
The Strathspey Distillery was founded by John Grant, George Sellar, and Alexander Mackenzie. Unfortunately, they weren’t successful, and the distillery went under. Then, in 1905, Strathspey was sold to John Somerville & Co and AP Blyth & Sons, who renamed the distillery Dalwhinnie. Cook & Bernheimer, a US-based company, purchased it a short time later. Dalwhinnie was the first Scotch distillery owned by a foreign entity.
In 1919, Dalwhinnie was sold to Macdonald Greenless, which, in turn, was acquired by Distillers Company Limited (DCL) in 1926 under the James Buchanan & Co division. After a series of mergers, DCL became Diageo, which retains ownership today.
However, the distillery experienced a fire in 1934 that prevented operations from continuing for four years. Due to the harsh climate (20-foot snowdrifts) and the distillery’s elevation, rebuilding took longer than anticipated. In 1992, the distillery was closed for three years while a major restoration and refitting occurred.
Dalwhinnie 15 is a single malt Scotch and the brand’s core expression. The Distiller’s Edition utilizes Oloroso seasoned, former Bourbon casks for the second maturation cycle. Packaged at 43% ABV (86°), the DE’s suggested retail price is $90.00.
Before I #DrinkCurious, I must thank Diageo for providing me with a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, let’s get to it, shall we?
Appearance: I served this whisky neat in my Glencairn glass. It presented as a brilliant gold liquid, forming a massive rim and slow, sticky tears.
Nose: The aroma was fruity with pineapple, coconut, banana, and orange citrus. That was followed by cocoa, oak, and baking spices. When I drew that air through my lips, I tasted raw honey.
Palate: The mouthfeel was thick and creamy. I found sweet pear, pineapple, and honeysuckle on the front of my palate. Then, I encountered bananas, spiced nuts, and toasted coconut in the middle. The back consisted of dry oak, mild smokiness, and pink peppercorn.
Finish: The pink peppercorn started so subtly that I almost missed it. But, as I allowed the finish to build, the pepper was more pronounced. The spiced nuts melded nicely, and the muted smoke paired well with those notes. Vanilla, banana, and honeysuckle calmed things. Overall, it was a long duration.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: At 15 years, we understandably enter the realm of more expensive whiskies, so the slightly higher price tag shouldn’t draw unwanted attention. The real question is how the sipping experience went, and the answer is, “Very well.” I preferred a slightly peatier whisky, but what I tasted was enjoyable, and I adored the creamy mouthfeel. I was unshy about taking an additional pour. This Scotch went down a bit too easy, throwing it into what I call a dangerous whisky. And that, my friends, means it earned my coveted Bottle rating. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It
Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.