Tasting: Dalmore 12 yo (late 80s/early 90s duty free bottling)

Tasting: Dalmore 12 yo (late 80s/early 90s duty free bottling)Dram data:
Distillery: Dalmore
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: 70s to early 80s
Bottled: late 80s, early 90s
Age: 12 years
Limitation: –
Casks: –
Alcohol: 43%
Most likely chill filtered and coloured
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
dark orang-ey gold
Woohoo! my nose is finally working again and properly calibrated after being stuffed for well over a week! So it’s back to business with an old Dalmore 12, bottled in the mid-80s to early 90s. This might very well contain whisky distilled in the 70s! I’m excited! The nose is, well, recognisably Dalmore-ish! Light, fruity, sweet and pleasant but not without depth. The first thing you notice is a sweet – but not cloying – rich sweet sherry and fruit sweetness. Px sherry, dried dates and figs, dried pears for making fruit-bread, plum spread, seasoned with Swiss herbal cough lozenges and a dash of plum distillate (with cracked kernels!). European oak shining through with slight coffee- and ginger spiciness. Also a trace of Hubba Bubba fruit gum and orange blossom paired with thickened orange juice with the odd sweet grape mixed in. I am sure there’s much older whisky than just 12 year-old stuff involved here, it’s too rich and rounded for a barely teenage dram. Light and easy yet sophisticated in the background. The palate matches the nose. A light distillate at first glance but with loads going on in the background – not to overwhelm the casual drinker but also to satisfy those wanting more. There’s the sweetness again – not too much, not too little. A dark fruit puree of all the aforementioned fruits, diluted with plum distillate and a good measure of PX sherry, then aged and married in oak casks. Ground coffee, slightly burnt toffee, medium bitter chocolate. After a minute or so slightly bitter notes appear – herbal bitterness. The swiss cough lozenges are back. That’s something completely lost in modern mass-market whiskies: the influence of European oak. The medium-long finish has the same consistent sweet sherry and fruit notes upon swallowing, with an immediate yet still fruity-sweet dryness following behind. It fades and fades and fades without changing until it’s gone.

Dalmore from another era. Yep, that’s what it is. An era when stocks were plenty, European oak was still used for Sherry casks and older whisky was used to enrich the flavour because it was available. At least that’s my impression from tasting this 12-year-old Dalmore. It is recognisably Dalmore, the style is very clear, yet it is richer, spicier and more complex than contemporary bottlings while still being an easy, quaffable, light dram pleasing the entire (adult) family. Works for me!

Score: 86/100
(Nose: 86 Palate: 85 Finish: 86)

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