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Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old

Heavy on the honey

0 1058

@BigJoeReview by @BigJoe

20th Jun 2015


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Before I begin with this review I would like to explain my method of scoring to put the total score in perspective with my personal opinion. 0-50 = 'To my disliking' 50-65 = 'Partially enjoyable' 65-80 = 'Very satisfying' 80-100 = 'Must have reserves!'

On with the review. I must admit that I had high hopes for the Dalwhinnie 15 year old, being one of the six 'Classic Malts of Scotland' marketed by Diageo. Not to mention reviews being generally favorable.

Nose: Initially I was hit with ethanol carrying an obvious Sweet honey and parmesan cheese. Unfortunately I find parmesan cheese off-putting and sickly. Not out to a good start. Searching harder I find citrus notes of madarin orange and some almost hidden floral notes.

Palate: Medium bodied. There is plenty of heat and spice, with heather honey being the dominant flavour.

Finish: The finish moves into tangy citrus with bitterness balanced by sweet honey and pepper that hangs on for a good length of time.

Adding a drop of water quickly diluted the nose but did help bring out some depth including almond, possibly from the oak? I also found after time in the glass the off-putting aromas faded and made it easier to enjoy the honey notes. Overall this is perfectly drinkable, saved somewhat by a decent finish, but I wouldn't rush out to buy another bottle.

Let me know your thoughts and I hope my interpretation is helpful to someone thinking about picking up a bottle.

Related Dalwhinnie reviews


Victor commented

@BigJoe, thanks for your review. I think that your narrative and tasting notes are quite clear, easy to follow, and practical.

About your number scores: you use a numerical scale which is almost exactly what I would choose to use myself...if that did not put me into a postion of making my numbers totally confusing to the others within this club, Connosr.com. I am one of those who has never liked the Robert Parker-Michael Jackson-Jim Murray scale for grading alcoholic beverages...in which 80% of participants grade 80% of whiskies between 70 and 90 points (Murray a little higher than Parker and Jackson). We've had conversations about this subject on Connosr over the years, sometimes conversations which were lively to the point of being heated.

Those conversations always came down to this: without a common numerical grading "language" we on Connosr would have a very difficult time understanding one another and being able to interpret one another's reviews. No one is going to force anyone here to change his or her number scales, and few would even suggest changing a grade, except one which seems extreme, like giving a whisky a total score of 20 pts. Nonetheless, almost EVERONE here will note cognitive dissonance when you title a whisky review with the word 'brilliance' included, and then give the whisky a grade of 76. Many, probably most, of the members of Connosr would never buy a bottle of any whisky graded at 76 points. Some will look at your review including 76 points and 'brilliance' in the title and say, "I can't understand what this guy is trying to say." For to most 76 pts = either mediocre or DOWNRIGHT BAD. Why? Because that's the way 95% of our members grade.

So, grade as you wish, but be aware that if you use a grading system that people don't understand or expect, that many people will have a very hard time relating to your diligently produced reviews, and very likely lose interest in reading them. Really, if you wish to continue this system of scoring, it would be a very good idea to keep that short paragraph explaining your system for use in every review you write.

I re-iterate that I am very sympathetic to your review scales, and actually prefer them myself, but that I use a different system now in order to communicate my thoughts in a way which the majority of the group has gotten used to accepting.

4 years ago 0

Victor commented

I see that your Vat 69 review, Blended Brilliance, has somehow disappeared from your profile page. There is still a trace of it under Vat 69 search, but trying to reference the text comes up with a '404 error'.

4 years ago 0

Benancio commented

Hey @BigJoe good review, I always wanted to pick this one up but I always seem to grab something else off the shelf. I almost didn't read the review because of the score, I'm glad I did. I score like most of the crowd, just the way it is. I'll just need to be aware of your scale when I see your reviews. Thx for the honest review, I won't rush, but I'll get a bottle or order a dram someday.

Cool handle @BigJoe, and pic, this sight needs a LittleJoe now.

4 years ago 0

Nozinan commented

@victor, I understand your points but I think there's one think that should be stated. Most of my reviews are in the 80s or 90s because I am very selective about the whiskies I choose to drink. And aside from some of the samples and minis that I'd like to review (I know I've been delinquent but I need TIME and a lack of distraction to do it), where I have no control over the quality, I tend to choose higher quality malts.

If I were to review Glenfiddichs, Dalwhinnies, Aberlour 10, weak Macallans, I'd probably have a much larger standard deviation of my scores.

Personally, as long as I understand the context, I'm happy with any scale. I read these reviews for pleasure, and the more detailed the descriptions the better.

4 years ago 0

BigJoe commented

@victor, thank you for the feedback. With regards to the grading system I agree with you on the points you make. I was attempting to use a system that would most accurately represent my impressions and opinions. To me is seems a shame to only use 1/3 of the 0-100 scale and I struggle a bit with 70/100 being a low score. I accept that there is already a firm acceptance in place of the typical 70-100 scale so if I continue to use my own grading system I will take your advice and clarify it in future reviews - I may even modify it so it is slightly more in-line with others expectations. With regards to the VAT 69 review- it's no loss. It was a rushed and frankly poorly written and lacking detail. It is a favorite dram for me so I will probably post a new review of it in the near future. I am a novice when it comes to whisky tasting so any feedback is valued. @Benancio, Thank you for reading and it's good to hear that your glad you read it. Keep an eye out for future reviews as I'm sure there will be more to come from some affordable and readily available offerings.

4 years ago 0

Victor commented

@BigJoe, I agree with you completely that it is an absolute shame that the widespread assumption and social convention is to have a 100 point scale and to only use 1/3 of it. It makes very little sense that this is the way in which things are done.

When I ask myself "why?" this is the case the only answer which makes any sense to me is that the restriction of scores overwhelmingly to the higher end of the scale serves as a general promotion and support of the industry as a whole...as if to say, "These are all fine products within our wonderful industry, but some are just a little finer than others."

If that is a correct surmisal on my part, then that is a promoter's rationale, and not a critic's rationale. We live in a world of promotion and self-promotion.

4 years ago 0

paddockjudge commented

This review thread has taken on a life of its own...This is fantastic!

I'm not buying a large amount of my purchases randomly. There are filters and pre-filters in place for my selection process. I do take the odd 'flyer', but these are becoming more rare. I have an expectation for my purchases to be in the upper fifth of the scale, and they usually are.

On occasion I buy a 'dud', and grade it as such. Most of my purchases are from the 'mainstream' of product offerings and I rate them as such. I believe this is appropriate for the 'League' I am in. There are Leagues above and below me. I'm not hitting for average when buying whisky (or Rum, or Brandy, or....), I'm swinging for the fences! I am practical in my approach. I don't belong to the SMWS. I'll not be buying Highland Park 25 YO in the near future nor will I plunk down $600 in this lifetime for a single bottle of juice. I will continue to cherry-pick what I consider to be the best value, for me.

I definitely will have a cluster-fuck near the top of the scale.

I have made some good friends as a result of participating on incredibly interesting threads such as this one. I have shared many drams, traded many bottles, travelled many miles to enjoy the company of like-minded individuals. Connosr brings me a great deal of enjoyment. To @BigJoe, @Victor, @Benancio, @Nozinan, keep it coming. To all of the Connosr Dad's out there, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY !!

4 years ago 0

BigJoe commented

@paddockjudge, filters and pre-filters, sounds serious. I am very much at a stage where I want to purchase a large variety of styles at a variety of price points (within budget) to widen my experience. I too think there comes a point where no matter how fine the liquor it still has to be cost effective. It makes everything a bit of a gamble but for me that adds to the enjoyment of the dram, especially if you get lucky and land something special at an affordable price. I'm obviously new to the site but I too find some of these threads interesting, and yes a big part of it is the company you keep.

4 years ago 0

Taco commented

I do enjoy this whisky, just not at the price ($55-60). It is a pleasant and subtle whisky with flavors such as honeysuckle nectar, which reminds me of my youth. It's a great whisky to buy as a gift for someone, or to serve as the first dram of the evening to set your taste buds. However, I can buy several equally good whiskies for less dollars.

As to the scoring, I think the preferred one is similar to what is used in school. Brilliant means 95-100, excellent is 90-94, very good is 85-90, good 80-85, fair 70-79, and so on. As a result, we can all relate to such a system, as we were exposed to it for soooooo long.

4 years ago 0

BigJoe commented

@Taco, yes that does make sense, however as @Victor pointed out at the beginning of this thread "without a common numerical grading "language" we on Connosr would have a very difficult time understanding one another"

@Victor as a result of your comments I have reverted to that "common numerical grading" or "language" and done away with any unique scoring - as you will see in my review of the GlenDronach.

4 years ago 0

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