Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old
The Dalwhinnie 15yo is something of a standard bearer for me. It gets one of the best meta-critic scores for its flavour cluster (H) – and it is surprisingly complex for such a light dram. It is also widely available, and reasonably priced for the quality. It is currently $95 at the LCBO.
A final point to commend it – it is one of Mrs Selfbuilt’s current favourites among my collection. 🙂
Let’s see how it compares to some other commonly available Scottish single malts in this flavour cluster:
AnCnoc 12yo: 8.66 ± 0.38 on 14 reviews ($$$)
Auchentoshan American Oak: 7.50 ± 0.92 on 6 reviews ($$)
Cardhu 12yo: 8.11 ± 0.52 on 15 reviews ($$$)
Dalwhinnie 15yo: 8.70 ± 0.38 on 14 reviews ($$$$)
Deanston Virgin Oak: 8.23 ± 0.48 on 9 reviews ($$)
Tomatin Cu Bocan: 8.10 ± 0.33 on 10 reviews ($$$$)
As you can see, the Dalwhinnie and AnCnoc offerings lead the pack here. You can expect to pay a bit more for the Dalwhinnie 15, though.
Here is what I find in the glass:
Nose: Sweet floral quality, with apple blossoms and honeysuckle. Light fruits like apricots, pears, peaches, and apple. Honey is definitely the dominant sweet note, although there is a touch of vanilla as well. There is also definite whiff of smoke. Very nice.
Palate: Tons of honey now, along with vanilla and toffee flavours. Same fruits as the nose. Malty overall, with a strong cereal component. Not as drying as some malty whiskies, nor as cloying as some fruity/floral ones. Individual flavours are sharp and clear, as opposed to smooth and mellow. A surprising amount of smoke comes in at the end, and lingers as you swallow.
The GH flavour super-cluster is considered to comprise the “aperitif” class of single malts, owing to their typically lighter flavours. But make no mistake about it, there is a lot going on under the surface here. The individual flavour components are crisp and clear, not muddled into a “smooth” jumble (as you sometimes find on lighter whiskies).
The smokey aspect to the finish suggests to me that this may be better suited as a disgestif rather than an aperitif (i.e., an after-dinner drink). I expect it would also do very well as a refreshing highball in the summertime – which should nicely bring up its sweet aromatic characteristics.