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!)