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I thought it was time for me to try another crowd divider of a malt. I was divided between the Dalmore 12 Year Old and the Bowmore 15 Year Old Darkest and have subsequently chosen the former. The box, the bottle, everything about its' visual performance, even the obviously well E150-doctored appearance of the liquid, seems utter kitsch by my taste and opinion. It seems someone has tried a little too hard to impress. The tasting notes follow:
Nose: the typical sherried one. It says on the label of the bottle that (some part of it) it has been maturing in Oloroso casks, under the watchful eye of some Mr. Richard Paterson, the Master Distiller, so what else would you expect? Winey, elegant, non-pungent. Some pleasant oak. Nothing else specific on this nose. 12 Year Old. Sherried. A middle shelf-happy nose. A safe one. And I am saying this with a good attitude. A nose that meets the moderate expectations and does nothing to exceed them. I'd give the Dalmore 12 Years Old 21 points for its' not very complex, but still very strong, refined and pleasant bunch of scents.
You see, surprises come around in all shapes and sizes and are not only welcome ones. I have read about Dalmore 12 Year Old enough reviews to know it is a divider of a dram. Some don't like the nose (sauerkraut notes etc.) and others are resenting the finish. The taste, however is generally well perceived by the public. My impressions from the palate performance of this malt are rather good. No surprises here, and it is for the good. The body is thick, almost chewy. Very malty. Pleasant oakiness. Sherry. Toffee at the back end of the tongue. Dark chocolate. Sweetness all around, very balanced alcohol burn, felt at as little as the 40%ABV that it's bottled at. Good job! The smoothness is expected and it is there for you. All in all, nothing to add, nothing to subtract. Nothing exceptional (unlike some members of the Glenfarclas family tree, alas) and nothing repulsive. Sound 22 in this department.
One would expect the finish of this dram to be like the nose and the palate: an elegant and rounded finale of a very good dram. But here is where the thin red line of this dram snaps and where Dalmore 12 Year Old falls short. The finish is rather short and two-layered. The first layer is the OK one: the sweet and sour notes, like dark chocolate and lime, well woven together. But it lasts a few seconds and is hard to hold on to. The sauerkraut feeling kicks in shortly afterwards, which is down to the sulphur. Ah, here it is, after all. Burnt ashes from rotten wood "dovetailing" with it. Bitter aftertaste, unpleasantly hot and biting the sides of the tongue. Good god! Luckily it ends quickly, leaving some feeling of rotten flesh, which doesn't last long as well. Let me put it into perspective: it is not the worst finish in the world, for I've had a lot worse (Glen Elgin 12 YO springing to mind to haunt me), but it's just plainly disappointing, after the... let's say "professionally crafted" aroma and taste. A big kick in the teeth, that comes unexpected and unsolicited. I can only give it 16 for the finish, and there's a solid benefit of the doubt given in this number, mind!
Now, this is not the cheapest dram. It isn't expensive as well, it is a reasonably priced one, but with a finish like this it could do with a tad lower price tag in order to make one's "Bang For One's Buck" list. The bottle design is kitschy, as I've stated. The overall impression is of something doctored, something premeditated, trying to leave some things well hidden, in order a good impression to be made, but in vain.
So, Dalmore 12 Year Old is an interesting piece of work. It seems that it aims high, but falls somewhat short. The nose and palate are very good, although not very complex, but the finish bitterly disappoints. One good thing I can say for this malt is that it is a very good digestive after dinner dram. It's versatile in a way. It has many faces and the finish for me personally is not the biggest factor when judging on my dram. So 20 points for complexity and overall impression is a justified number.
Thus Dalmore 12 Year Old ends with 79 points in my book which means only one thing: a generally decent dram that only the future will decide on, but I cannot strongly recommend it nor drink it for the time being. It will just stay on the shelf waiting for a better day.