The Dalwhinnie is one Scotland highest distilleries (in terms of altitude) and stands on a wind battered mountain where the average annual temperature is 6c . (you heard me right, 6 degrees Celsius!). Until recently it was the highest of all and only after the opening of Braeval it turned to be #2. In spite all this the distillery was not well known to the public until 1987 when it joined the Diageo “classic malts” team and gained a wider recognition. In spite the fact that it’s the 15 biggest in terms of production , most of the distilled malt goes into blends , mostly the well known Black & White.
Dalwhinnie belongs to the Highlands whisky district, although some whisky experts claim it should belong to the Speyside region rather than the highlands (according to its location). The distillery’s original name was indeed “StratSpey” , and also because its located just near its neighbor “Speyside” distillery. All this geographic mambo jumbo doesn’t take away the quality of nectar this distillery makes. The distilleries entry dram is the 15 year old, and there is quite a dispute about it’s quality. Essentially when researching this dram I spotted to main groups. The first, led by Whisky Bible author Murray like this malt very much enough as to give it a 95 mark! The other group led by the late Michael Jackson (not the singer! , but the great whisky/beer critique) claims it’s a solid whisky but not exceptional (76/100). Strange? Not at all. There is great variation in terms of subjective whisky judgment, and we’re thankful for that. So where do I stand? Let’s see.
Dalwhinnie 15 , 43% ABV
Color : Light Gold
Nose: Very appetizing nose. Honey, heather, some fruit, very very light peat smoke.
Palate : Honey, some spice, vanilla, sweet fruit. At the ending a mild white pepper entry, quite a nice “twist” there towards the end which complements the sweet start.
Finish: Medium, very nice finish ending on the white pepper and spice.
Summing It up:
The Dalwhinnie 15 is a very good malt. Not earth shattering, but solid and very easy to drink. How good it is? I wouldn’t say 95 like JM, but also rate it at 76. I guess somewhere in the middle, in the lower 80’s if I had to score it (which I seldom do). I would suggest this as a summer dram, or a malt for beginners who can sample a nice, soft, very lightly smoky malt. Mainstream. I can not say it left a huge mark on me, but it’s definitely a nice malt to have handy in your bar. Very slick and warming. Murray writes about this malt something like : “Give it to someone who doesn’t like whisky, and he’ll start liking whisky”. On that I have to agree.