Quick review: Dalmore 12-year-old

Dalmore is the crown jewel of Whyte & Mackay and the target of love and hate. Millionaires love this distillery and can reach new heights with extremely expensive and limited very-old bottlings, with a 60-year-old released in 2019 with an outturn of… 3 bottles to celebrate the reopening of the distillery after a refurbishing and their 180th anniversary, and many whisky fans hate Dalmore as this distillery cannot stop themselves to add caramel to fake tan their whisky up to a ridiculous point. But before finishing the quick review of the Dalmore 12-year-old, let’s get quickly to the history of the distillery.

The Dalmore 180. Quite imposing.
The only reason I won’t buy it is it doesn’t fit in my cupboard.

In 1839, a chap named Alexader Matheson founds Dalmore, which in 1867 is run by three Mackenzie brothers. In 1891, the brothers buy the distillery. During the First World War, the Royal Navy uses the distillery to start manufacturing American mines, and 3 years later they move out and leave a damaged distillery, due to an explosion. It will take 2 years before production starts again. Quite later, in 1960, Whyte & Mackay merges with the Mackenzie Brothers Ltd. After a few name changes and back, Whyte & Mackay is bought in 2007 by United Spirits then in 2014 by Emperador Inc.

Dalmore 12-year-old review

The Dalmore 12-year-old is bottled at 40% abv, matured for 9 years in American oak ex-bourbon barrels before the whisky is divided in two, with one half finishing its maturation in those ex-bourbon barrels and the other half in 30yo Matusalem oloroso sherry casks. You can find it on Master of Malt for £42.95 or a pound and a half less on The Whisky Exchange (I let you do the maths, it’s good for you). In France, you can buy it on Amazon for 60€ or at La Maison Du Whisky for 69€.

The Dalmore 12yo.
No need for a white background and colour grading, just imagine caramel.


E150A, nothing to see here.


Citrus at first, vanilla, grape, cinnamon, the sherry half of the last 3 years of maturation are here. Caramel and dried fruits, a slight touch of solvent in the background, wood polish, orange marmalade and brioche from Vendée.


Citrusy and slightly spicy arrival, some lemon zest and grapefruit, orange, dark chocolate with salt crystals, and oak sap. The mouthfeel is quite thin but not as much as you would expect from this low abv. Then vanilla and a wee pinch of pepper at the end.


Medium long, on oranges, oak spices and unsweetened cocoa powder.


I’ve bought this bottle a few years ago and it took me those few years to reach the end. I don’t think it oxidized too much so I’d cross out oxidization influence from my notes. It’s not a bad whisky, but it’s not great. It feels fake and designed, and on the colour it clearly is. It’s nice to sip, easy to even, but it misses some honesty. And I’m not just snobbish just because it’s full of caramel.



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