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Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old

Tasty, but not memorable

0 477

BReview by @BourbonNorth1

27th Oct 2014


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

This is a whisky that I was very interested to try. Part of Diageo's Classic Malts range, it was rated 95 points in Jim Murray's Whisky Bible- and yet, almost unilaterally, people I know said it was pretty unexciting. Because of that, I was pretty hesitant to go buy a bottle- but, as luck would have it, I ended up being given one. And, having had the bottle open for about three months, I've got to say I probably weigh in with the 'unexciting' crowd. I have honestly no idea why this would be rated a 95 by Murray, although obviously taste is subjective and a great many of his reviews and ratings are exceedingly good.

Having said all that, Dalwhinnie 15 would be an absolutely stellar choice for an introductory malt for someone just getting into whiskey. It's very smooth, very mellow, not too high in ABV, and is full of generally enjoyable, approachable flavors.

Dalwhinnie 15 pours a fairly light gold color. The nose is pretty gentle and smooth with lots of light honey and soft vanilla overlaying less pronounced flavors of red apple, hay, and maybe a touch of floral.

The mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I'd like (but, at 43%, that's not exactly a shock), and the palate is very much a continuation of the nose, with lots of honey and vanilla mixed with malty cereal notes and a touch of nutmeg.

The finish is definitely the hero of this whisky- medium length and very smooth, it brings a delicate seam of smoke that mixes with flavors of vanilla, soft spice, and toffee apple.

There's nothing really WRONG with this whisky- it's smooth, very mellow, and tasty with a nice twist of smoke to the finish- but it's just too mild. There's not much complexity to be had- mostly just honey and vanilla laid over a few other flavors in the background- and in general it's just kind of uninteresting. I'm all for subtlety when it's done well, but this isn't that. It's the difference between a soft piano piece and someone taking a pop song and turning the volume down- subtlety needs complexity and depth to make it stand out. Instead, this seems to just be ordinary whiskey flavors but weaker.

Related Dalwhinnie reviews


cherylnifer commented

BourbonNorth1: ... I have honestly no idea why this would be rated a 95 by Murray, although obviously taste is subjective and a great many of his reviews and ratings are exceedingly good.

Jim Murray's Whisky Bible has recycled the same word-for-word review for Dalwhinnie 15 since the initial Whisky Bible was published more than 10 years ago. The whisky itself has changed. IMHO, the flavor profile has changed considerably since that initial review was published. I was alittle slow to catch on to the note on the back of each bible stating how many new reviews were included. That meant the rest were recycled. For the 2014 issue, the recycled reviews (but not necessarily the numerical rating) accounts for 70-75% of the guide. I have begun to buy used guides. Doesn't make sense to pay full retail for only 20-25% new content, and considerable content that is more than 5-10 years old.

9 years ago 0

Victor commented

@cherynifer, you are so right. The whisky world has already for some years been too large for Jim Murray to re-review all of the whiskies in his Whisky Bible every year, or even every two years. Really for the book to remain up-to-date the whiskies need to be re-assessed every year. Even regular annual re-reviews would not be sufficient for highly batch variable whiskies like differing batches of highly peated Islay whiskies. Those whiskies need mulitple reviews by batch number.

I don't blame Mr. Murray for being unable to accomplish an impossible task. But it is true that most of his information in each edition lacks timely relevance. I imagine that what he would say about this is that what he has written several years ago is far better than nothing...and it is.

I expect to continue to buy Jim Murray's Whisky Bible, not only for the reviews of new releases, but also especially for his on-going commentary on the evolution of the world-wide whisky industry. I admire Jim Murray very much for not being a lackey of the regulatory and commercial powers that be. (His liking Ardbeg and Glenmorangie doesn't make him their lackey. He is just someone who happens to like Ardbeg and Glenmorangie. People like to work with people whom they like.) His campaigns against use of caramel in whisky and sulphur contamination in casks, for example, are great services to lovers of high quality spirits. With respect to those issues Jim Murray was for years almost a lone voice crying out in the desert.

@BourbonNorth1, thanks for a nice fair heart-felt review. Mr. Murray is all about balance, complexity, and subtlety. Dalwhinnie 15 is just too subtle and mild for most Connosr members to get excited about...then there are also those who taste and nose 'baby vomit' in Dalwhinnie 15 as well.

I like Dalwhinnie 15 just fine in its subtlety and refinement...but it has been about 2 years since I have been motivated to reach for my bottle of it. No, it is a pretty minor draw for me, too, and I admit to liking it.

9 years ago 0

BourbonNorth1 commented

That's actually really interesting. It makes sense that you couldn't possibly re-try all those whiskies every year, but for some reason it hadn't even crossed my mind to look at how long the ratings have stood for. And absolutely Murray's discussion of what goes on in the whiskey world at large is worth buying the Bible for almost by itself.

Also, thankfully I didn't detect any 'baby vomit' flavors in this whiskey. Definitely glad about that one!

9 years ago 0

FMichael commented

While I agree a score of 95 is too high for this whisky - IMHO it's more of a 84/85...You are right however - def a lighter/mellow single malt for those who do not care for the smokey Islays.

9 years ago 0

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