Distillery/Brand: Dalwhinnie | Region: Highland | ABV: 52.1% | Colour: Young Sauternes
Nose: 23 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 89
What fascinates me the most about my hobby is that I will routinely stumble across some facts and information that I did not know about before. Some times it is through a learned friend. But mostly it is through complete accident.
And those accidents normally happen when I’m researching facts about a certain whisky I’ve drunk and want to know more of.
Which is what happened when I sat down to taste the Dalwhinnie 25.
My initial thoughts were that this whisky had at some point come in contact with European sherry. I make it a point not to research the whisky before I drink it so as not to be biased.
My notes contained a few references to sherry, however, upon research I discovered that this Dalwhinnie had been matured exclusively in American Bourbon hogsheads.
Strange, I thought.
But as I pressed on I discovered that those were not ordinary American Hogsheads; they had been rejuvenated. Now I didn’t really know what that meant until I dug a little deeper.
Rejuvenating casks is a pretty recent phenomena (not more than 20 years old) and has been put into practise to combat the scarcity of oak casks from around the world. Essentially rejuvenating casks is done by scraping off the tired wood from the existing staves to bring out new wood from the layers underneath, re-racking them and re-toasting them to create a new surface for the spirit to interact with.
Now this is where it gets interesting. Rejuvenated casks are commonly seasoned with Pajarete which is a colouring and sweetening wine consisting of a Pedro Ximenez reduction. This is done using a process called ‘bain marie’ which is basically a fancy way of saying ‘hot bath’.
This seasoning is done to give the wood a certain sherry-cask profile.
Now I don’t know for sure but I’m pretty certain that this whisky’s profile is the result of this particular treatment. I could be wrong since there is no concrete evidence to support this but I would love to be right.
My sample is from a brand new bottle, distilled in 1987 and bottled in 2012 at a cask strength of 52.1%
Nose: Lovely warm sherry. Chocolate milk. Touch of oak. Sweet honey. Wild berries. Mocha frappuccino. Caramel. Touch of limestone. Lime zest. Something green. Gets sweeter over time. Strawberry jam. I like noses like these. 23/25
Palate: Full bodied. Nice texture. Spices. Sweet chocolate. Coffee. Butterscotch. Caramel. Mocha. Cinnamon. Gets woody. Fudge cake. Berries. Hint of tannins. I think the oak had just about started to give up when this was bottled. Might have been different at 24 years of age instead of 25. Just a thought. 22/25
Finish: Long. Lip smacking. Oily. Cinnamon. Woody. 22/25
Overall comments: This is one of my more long-winded posts but I wanted to touch upon my new learning. It’s always nice when things connect. I like this whisky, though, I think it would have been fabulous had it been bottled a touch younger (I don’t know what the infatuation with multiples of five is) but I guess we’ll never know.
But mostly I will remember this whisky for teaching me something new.