Like several distilleries, Dalwhinnie was started in the late 19th century and, though facing some bumps along the way like a short suspension of production during WWII due to barley restrictions, has remained in near constant production. Dalwhinnie also supplies a good deal of its output (90%) to the blended market. The distillery was briefly run by a firm from the United States in the early 20th century until Prohibition when it was sold back to Scottish owners. Dalwhinnie claims to be the highest distillery in Scotland, located in the Grampian Mountains and draws its water from Lochan–Doire–Uaine or Lock of the Green Thicket. The village of Dalwhinnie from whence the distillery gets its name, is located near the town of Strathspey and comes from a Gaelic word meaning “Meeting Place.”
Age: 15 years
Nose: Malt, toasted marshmallow, licorice, anise, processed banana
Palate: Floral, sour, wood, daisy
Finish: Lavender, boggy
Comments: Some debate about whether this is a Highland or Speyside malt. Dalwhinnie is located in the Highland region, but the water is a tributary of the river Spey.
Adam – I have fond memories of this Scotch, as it was the first one I was given as a gift (thanks!) and one of the first steps taken down the single malt road after the required introductions via The Glenlivet and Glenfiddich. The silky mouthfeel is distinctive, and while the whisky warms up a little as you swallow from the alcohol, it’s only a brief flare and never becomes problematic. I am a little puzzled at the slightly sour aspect to the back end of the palate, though it’s not an overwhelming quality. Thankfully, there are some nice floral elements on the front end that help prop the taste up, combined with a complex nose. This definitely feels like a summertime Scotch, best enjoyed outside or on a sun porch, a light breeze to chase away any summer mire. Having sipped this for years, a recent introduction of a few drops of water opened my eyes. While turning the nose hotter, it mellows any burn on the tongue and allows the floral notes in the palate to dominate, while at the same time creating a nice lingering warmth on the back of the tongue that isn’t really a finish but sure feels like one. While it tastes fine as is, don’t be afraid to play around with this one a bit to see what you can unlock before you sit back and enjoy the rewards.
Kate – This reminds me of growing up in D.C. during an Indian summer. It’s hot, muggy, and swampy (emphasis on swampy). It’s in the flora & fauna category and I don’t like flora & fauna in my Scotch. I wouldn’t turn it down if offered to me…in the month of August.
Meghan – There is a unique JELL-O banana pudding aspect to the nose. Not real bananas but banana flavored. I found oily maple syrup sweetness on the front palate that slid to soured floral aspect with a subtle finish. It doesn’t have an alcohol hotness so the idea of adding water didn’t occur to us right away. However, a couple drops really made this more enjoyable. It tamed the swampy and let sweetness and clean floral though – definitely something for warmer months. Do not touch until June.