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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.