Red Deer StagUp here in Boston, it is starting to get pretty damn cold.  That wind is starting to whip off the harbor and chill the bones.  Simply put, there is no better time to find a warming whisky (especially if you don’t have much control over your heat).  Today’s review is of The Dalmore 12 year single malt Scotch, a wonderfully warming Highland whisky.  The Dalmore distillery is located on the north east coast of Scotland, but it has very little seaside influence.  The Dalmore 12 year is matured for its first 9 years in ex-bourbon casks before the whisky is separated in half.  Half the spirit is allowed to continue its aging in the ex-bourbon casks.  The other half of the whisky is transferred to ex-Oloroso Sherry casks that previously held 30 year-old Sherries.  The end result is a whisky that drinks well beyond its proof point and well beyond its limited Sherry influence.  The Dalmore 12 year is bottled at 80 proof (40% abv).

The nose has a lot of Sherry influence right away.  There are notes of orange peels, currants, tree bark, and Fig Newtons.  The nose has a good balance of dense and sweet flavors.  The palate is full-bodied, with a lot of Sherry and old oak spices.  The most prominent notes are orange marmalade, cocoa powder, and white chocolate.  The finish is long and very warming, tingling the palate with lingering flavors of wood spices, dry Sherry, and a wee puff of smoke. Red Stag

Overall, The Dalmore drinks beyond its alcohol content, as it has a lot of body for a whisky bottled at 40% abv.  The Oloroso influence hits hard and keeps coming, but there is enough depth and complexity to hold the whisky together.  I would love to see this whisky with some of the big, sherried notes turned down.  Perhaps that experience awaits me in run-ins with the older expressions in The Dalmore range.  All that said, this is still one of my favorite whiskies, especially in the late fall.  I really just like the way it tastes and the warmth it provides.  My grade: B/B+.  Price: $50-60/750ml.  This is a big, full-bodied whisky with a lot of Sherry influence.

p.s. If you are wondering about the red stags in the post and on the front of The Dalmore’s bottles, here is the story told by the distillery.  In 1263, an ancestor of the Clan Mackenzie (who bought The Dalmore distillery in 1891) saved the King of the Scots, Alexander III, from being gored by a charging red stag.  Whether fact or fiction, the legend is an essential part of the story of the Clan Mackenzie and The Dalmore.  The stag head adorns the Clan Mackenzie’s coat of arms and every bottle of The Dalmore whisky.  The Dalmore has also incorporated a “King Alexander III” expression into the distilleries lineup to honor the famous event.  Whatever the real story, its a cool logo for a wonderful whisky, echoing the power and beauty of the red stag itself (unlike that swill coming out of Jim Beam).