Dalmore Gran Reserva
I killed another soldier last night, and I'm very glad I didn't post my impressions of the Dalmore Gran Reserva when I first opened the bottle. That said, here's my tasting ideas about this whisky from start to finish.
When I first opened this bottle February 12th, I was quite disappointed. The whisky was too latently sweet, and finished quite short. The sherry cask influence was overbearing and the balance of wood-to-spirit was poor. In fact, an initial thought was that it very much drank like some blended whisky - especially with the finish being so short.
Perhaps some of my perceptions were being influenced a concurrent reading of Richard Paterson's 'Goodness Nose'? Having had a lot of whiskies crafted by Richard, his hand surely seems recognizable in this whisky.
My notes from March 1st indicated the wood was becoming more integrated in relation to the spirit, and was evidenced with a perceived change in latent sweetness. Also, at this point, a subtle peat smoke started to show on the back end.
I then left the bottle alone until April 2nd. Between the 2nd and April 13th I finished the bottle. The whisky had changed from my March 1st notes in that the latent sweetness was finally balanced, as was the wood to spirit. The peat smoke, which started to reveal itself in March, was now much more prominent with a subtle assertiveness on the nose. It also had come forth from the back to the mid palate. The finish became pretty dry, given the heavy dose of sherry cask, and slightly salty. Think salted almonds. The length of finish evolved to medium-long, as compared to my February notes of quite short.
This really turned out to be a very pleasant dram. After all, it's gone! I wouldn't put it in my top 50, but became quite complex in its fantastic evolution. If you're a Dalmore fan, I cannot imagine you wouldn't love this. If you're not a Dalmore fan, it is definitely worth trying; I just suggest the bottle be open a month or so too realize maximum complexity.
FYI - The reason for the name change from Cigar Malt to Gran Reserva is because Dalmore believed the Cigar Malt name pigeonholed the whisky into a zone that many consumers would not try it if they did not smoke. Conversely, Dalmore figured those who smoked and liked the Cigar Malt would figure out the name change since the palate remained similar. Further, I understand the sherry casks for this bottling are coming from Gonzalez Byass and were used in their Noe and Matusalem bottlings. (If you're a sherry fan, or want to be, GB is one of the best sherry producers and these bottlings are fantastic sherries!)
Thanks Dale for a great write up on Dalmore's Gran Reserva. This is especially great because I hope a lot of people read this and give a certain brand of scotch they did not initially favor another try. I have been guilty of this before in the past - not giving another shot at it. Now, I know better and never write any off after just one try. :D
Dalmore Gran Reserva - disappointed
I'm going to a scotch tasting soon, and not wanting to arrive empty handed, I purchased this one. Now every review I read mentioned "orange peel", "ginger", "cocoa", and other pleasant things. Also, having been aged in Sherry casks, I thought I'd have a winner here.
Well it hasn't impressed me in the least. It is medicinal, and I cannot pick up any of these other flavors.
For reference, I have enjoyed Dalwhinnie 15, really love the Balvenie 12 Double Wood, and ventured into Islay single-malts with Bowmore 12 (love the caramel/smoke blend there), so I believe I have enough of a sense of taste and smell to appreciate scotch properly.
Am I doing something wrong with this Dalmore Gran Reserva?
Not all sherry cask whiskies are winners nor are all bourbon cask whiskies (assuming there's a suggestion here) are losers.
As for your reading of tasting notes and not finding any of the flavors suggested in the notes, I suggest they rarely are.
Most tasting notes are written by a marketing company which has been hired by a distillery or brand owner to promote their product, and subsequently written by someone who likely cannot tell a whisky from a warbler.
And if written by someone who does know a thing or two about whisky, they likely have their favorite descriptors which they use over and over. If you read enough of their notes, they tend to sound the same and are generally of little use to typify a particular whisky nor do justice to the variety and breadth of differences from distiller to distiller, whisky to whisky or expression to expression.
You probably get better information from this board about what a whisky is like than you'll get in reading most published tasting notes.
The whiskies you mentioned that you like leaves me thinking you should try Benromach 10 year. In it, you will get the peat and smoke influence you like in Bowmore but will also get the sweetish-side of the Balvenie as the Benromach 10 is aged in first fill sherry casks. They are also not marrying as many casks at a time as does Dalmore or Balvenie so it drinks closer to a single cask whisky than most official bottlings.
The bold red print is possibly the best information I have seen on here so far.
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