By Father John Rayls
The Dalwhinnie Distillery has a long and eventful history. Started in 1897, but was in and out of insolvency the very next year, and the distillery saw several ownership changes after that. It eventually came under the Diageo umbrella, which is how it came to be included among “The Classic Malts of Scotland.” Included are Glenkinchie, Cragganmore, Oban, Talisker, and Lagavulin, as well as Dalwhinnie. Capable marketing, separately and together, has made these six very well known, and three or more of them are often found together in gift packs and on bar shelves.
How do you know which whisky is best? Should you choose the one that is rated 90 points or even 95? Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that. Ratings are important and whisky reviews can be very helpful and informative. However, the enjoyment of whisky is a very personal thing even when enjoyed with friends. That brings me to how I feel about the Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old, because I really like it. However, the reviews you can read online about it fall all over the map.
For me, Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old is a very good whisky precisely because it is subtle in aroma, look and taste. “Subtle” is not a code word for “lacking.” It simply means you need to focus a little more and take a little longer to recognize just how well done this scotch really is.
If you look closely you will see a light golden honey color. The nose is of honey, oak, vanilla, light fruit with a hint of smoke. On the palate, there is honey, fruit, light smoke and vanilla. I should emphasize that the taste is very clean and crisp. The finish is fairly short and at 86 proof (43% abv) it is an easy drinking whisky that encourages a slower approach. On that last point, I would liken it to the Hakushu 12 year old Japanese whisky or even the Redbreast 12 year old Irish whiskey.
Another wonderful aspect of this excellent scotch is its price. You can personally experiment with it or give it as a special gift without breaking the bank. You will find Dalwhinnie 15 year listed from $59 to $71. With a wide range like that, you may want to spend a little time shopping around to get a price you like. Your efforts will be well rewarded.