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Dalmore Distillery was founded in 1839 by Alexander Matheson, who then sold it to the the Mackenzie Bros. in 1891. They were very actively involved, making their family motto the Dalmore's ("I shine, not burn") and using the stag-head of their coat-of-arms as the Dalmore's official crest. Blender Whyte & Mackay bought the distillery in 1960 and it is now the company's flagship malt, personified by Whyte & Mackay Master Blender (and Master Showman) Richard Paterson.
The Dalmore 15 spends its first twelve years in American oak; then one third goes into Matusalem sherry butts, a third into Apostoles sherry, and a third into amoroso sherry. They spend three years in these casks, then are married together for another 3-4 months.
The colour is a deep reddish gold. On the nose, blood orange, marmalade, prunes (which I'm not crazy about) - there is huge wood influence here. Lots of vanilla in the background, but the fruity sherry notes dominate. Spice and mint. Very rich, but a little off for me. Water brings out the malt that is otherwise dominated by the sherry wood.
On the palate, rather creamy with more orange, cinnamon and cloves, mocha, ginger and a little rum-raisin. Rich and flavourful. Water improves things a little bit more with added malt and spice.
The finish is warming with lighter orange notes, softer spices and some lingering caramel and vanilla. If you love your sherried whiskies, this one's for you. Myself, I find it a bit too much, and for me there are off-notes I cannot put my finger on. It's not that it's sulphurous, it's just…well, maybe too sherried for me, that's all. I prefer the 12 year old, and also the King Alexander III (named after the king whose life was saved from stag attack by that Mackenzie clan, in 1263). I generally find Dalmore to be a creamy, silky spirit that is pulverized by their wood finishes. Perhaps I'm a little biased too - I find Paterson immensely annoying (and overrated) and those ultra-premium luxury bottlings of theirs are so over-the-top pretentious they approach self-parody.