Thursday, June 02, 2011

you take the high road

I haven't done a whisky post for a little while, and I've actually got a bit of a backlog of stuff to do, so here's the first one: this is Dalwhinnie.

Every distillery seems to claim some sort of superlative, biggest, smallest, oldest, tallest stills, most stills, et variously cetera. Dalwhinnie's claim is that it is the highest currently operating distillery in Scotland at 1073 feet above sea level. The official website sticks to a slightly weaselly "one of the highest of all distilleries", but I understand it really is the highest. You'll notice that the official website sits under the Diageo banner, and sure enough this is one of their Classic Malts range, as were a few previous ones in this series.

Anyway, Dalwhinnie's geographical location makes it a Highland malt, which should bode well as these are generally my favourites, since they combine the smokiness of the island malts with the rich sweetness of the Speysiders. It's the latter that dominates when you have a sniff - but for the slight whiff of smoke this could be something like a Cardhu as it has a sort of honeyed sweetness to it. The classic description of Dalwhinnie seems to compulsorily include the word "heather", but I don't eat a lot of heather so I wouldn't know about that. What it is is nice and rich and sweet (no doubt partly due to being bottled at 15 years old, rather unusually for an entry-level single malt, which are usually 10-12 years old) with just the faintest wisp of smoke in the background.

It's really very nice, but my preference would be for something a little more aggressive (without getting silly and turning into Ardbeg) and maybe dialling down the sweetness just a bit. If you did that you'd end up with something a bit like Ben Nevis or Oban or Clynelish, which would be an unalloyed Good Thing.

Just in case you can't make it out, the label on the neck of the bottle reads "The Gentle Spirit". This seems to be sailing pretty close to "the gentle dram", which has already been bagsied by Tomintoul; no doubt their respective lawyers got together, did lunch, and came to some agreement.

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