Dalmore: The Vintage Port Collection

The Dalmore

I think it’s fair to say Richard Paterson is a fan of wine casks, in any of their forms. White, red, sparkling, fortified… you name it and he’ll have fired some Dalmore spirit into it. I suppose it comes as no surprise, then, to learn that Dalmore have released a new trilogy of port finished whiskies, under the banner of the Vintage Port Collection. The three whiskies were distilled in 1996, 1998 and 2001 and have been finished in ex-Tawny port pipes from W&J Graham. Released as part of Paterson’s 50th year-in-the-whisky-industry celebration, he said, “For me, port and whisky complement each other perfectly with port providing a fruitier palate to The Dalmore’s deep and complex new make spirit. Being able to finish these new releases is pipes of Graham’s port, which are some of the finest quality, during my anniversary year is incredibly exciting.” Here goes…

Dalmore 2001 15yo
Vintage Port Collection
40% ABV
£144.95 here

Nose: Quite fresh, with cherry tunes, cola cubes, banana foams, cookie dough, angelica and blackcurrant cordial.

Palate: Edinburgh Rock, candysticks, treacle, thick caramel, Demerara sugar, orange oils, and some new leather.

Finish: Very chocolatey with some honey and blackberries.

Dalmore 1998 18yo
Vintage Port Collection
44% ABV
£195 here

Nose: A touch of mint and gooseberry to begin, then it’s musky, with faint leather, mango chutney, orange marmalade, dusty sultanas, and old books.

Palate: Plum jam, stewed blueberries, orange peel, cinnamon swirls, leather tobacco pouch, sandalwood, dried apricots and black forest fruits.

Finish: Fruit loaf, treacle toffee and drying oak.

Dalmore 1996 20yo
Vintage Port Collection
45% ABV
£425 here

Nose: Rich and dry, with cask staves, a box of raisins, ginger, Jamaica cake, tea leaf, dates, figs, blackcurrant syrup and raspberry parfait chocolates.

Palate: Figs and plums to begin, some dark chocolate and dark cherries, apricots, unlit cigar, blackcurrant jam, clove, aniseed and manuka honey.

Finish: Juicy raisins, fine oak tannins, cacao and currants.

Overall: Some pretty tasty liquid, without question. The lightness and refreshing sweetness of the 2001 vintage shows a good crossing point between distillate and cask contribution, but the sweet spot for me is the 1998. Rich and juicy with good complexity and some musky, earthy notes to add good depth to the whisky. I enjoyed the 1996 too, but found it more generically sherried (rather than ‘ported’), however I can’t see how the price points are justified at all – nigh on £145 for a 15yo and £425 for a 20yo… and they’re not even in fancy decanters. Mind boggling, and quite sad really. “Dalmorisation” in full swing here unfortunately and I fear most of the liquid will be passed around collectors rather than drunk. Shame.



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