Blind Tasting Challenge - NAS vs. age statement

NAS vs. Age Statement Blind Tasting Challenge: Dalmore 12yo vs. Valour

Blind Tasting Challenge - NAS vs. age statementIn early 2015 whisky blogger and malt maniac Oliver Klimek set out to do a wide-scale comparison between NAS and age statement expressions, all done blind and with 35 tasters per pair of whisky. The results are very interesting with a near-draw between the entry-level malts and their NAS counterparts. Head over to his site dramming.com for all details on the challenge and the results!

Here are my original tasting notes on the first pair of whiskies: The Dalmore 12yo vs. their NAS Valour edition. All notes are original as written during the blind tasting phase.

A2A: Dalmore 12yo
Distillery: Dalmore
Bottler: Official Bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2014-2015
Age: 12yo
Limitation: –
Casks: –
Alcohol: 40%
chill filtered; coloured
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour:
dark red gold (as fake as can be)
The nose opens initially light and alcoholic. Light vanilla, orange juice, orange rind, green apples, peppermint, with a profound sweetness (molasses and caramelised ginger?) in the background and also a light rubbery note. Getting sweeter and darker as time goes on with dried fruits appearing in the mix. The palate is quite sweet with darker fruits shining through. Demerara sugar, honey, vanilla custard, light toffee, raisins, ripe plums, a nice creamy, oily touch as well. Not too complex, but very quaffable. The medium long finish has the same nice dark fruit sweetness to it with a bit of oak (just oak, not the oak spices) appearing at the end.
Verdict:
A lightly sherried, fruity sweet and quite quaffable, engaging but not overwhelming Speysider(?) Palate and finish have quite a bit more to offer than the nose.
Score: 81/100
(Nose: 77 Palate: 82 Finish: 81 )

A2B: Dalmore Valour
Distillery: Dalmore
Bottler: Official Bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2014-2015
Age: 12yo
Limitation: –
Casks: Matusalem Oloroso Sherry Casks
Alcohol: 40%
chill filtered; coloured
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour:
the exact same shade of dark red gold (as fake as can be)
The nose smells younger and lighter than A2A (I’m getting whiffs of new make coming through), the style is the same. Light vanilla, orange juice, more pronounced orange rind, also grapefruit. Green apples, pears, gooseberries, peppermint, fresh ginger, less pronounced molasses sweetness in the background with cough lozenges lurking underneath. The palate is quite a bit weaker than A2A, lacking in sweetness and depth. A diluted sweetness of honey and stretched dark fruits. Imagine A2A being a dark fruit smoothie diluted 1:1 with water, A2B has double the amount of water in it. I’m thinking this is also weaker on the ABV. Okay, on to the notes now: Oranges, dried oranges, citrus fruit kernels, light toffee, raisins (the lighter kind, not the dark ones), plums, dates and a light herbal bitterness. The dram has a light metallic youth to it as well. The medium long finish has a dark fruit sweetness to it, but also a youthful, more alcohol-driven and herbal-bitter side. Quite a bit drier than A2A as well.
Verdict:
A younger, fresher, lighter version of the previous one. Undeniably the same style and the same distillery character, but rougher, not as creamy and not as sweet. It would be too easy to say this is the younger malt replacing the older version – as my intuition is telling me – it could just be the other way round with more active casks being used for either bottling. I’m eager to find out about what these two drams are – the profile and the extreme amount of colouring make me lean towards Dalmore…
Score: 76/100
(Nose: 75 Palate: 76 Finish: 76)

Afterthoughts:
Spot on – Dalmore it turned out to be. That was pretty easy to guess, though, not many distilleries offer such an intense and almost identical colour across their range (E150a anyone?). Anyway, I liked the 12yo quite a bit more than the travel retail NAS edition, which to me was rougher and younger all around – got that part right, too. At least it doesn’t seem like the 12yo Dalmore is slotted for discontinuation – AND it’s cheaper than the NAS version – just the way things should be!

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