Dalwhinnie 25yo 1987 – 52.1%
God, I love Dalwhinnie. It’s not the cheapest whisky out there, nor is it the flashiest. It doesn’t come draped in jewel-encrusted, oak boxes and it doesn’t come soiled by marketing flannel. It’s not even massively high quality, if I’m honest. It just sits there on the A9 and gets on with the business of making solid whisky and looking after visitors. Consistency; that’s the key, old chums, consistency. What? Winter’s Gold? Never fucking heard of it. Shut up.
If you’ve ever made the wonderful journey up to Inverness, there’s a good chance you’ve been past the Dalwhinnie distillery. Surrounded by flora-rich Highland terrain and colder than a witch’s tit, there are few sights that bring more of a glow to this icy, shrivelled walnut I call a heart.
Like a good number of Diageo distilleries, Dalwhinnie produces very little in the way of regular official bottlings. You’ll get their 15 year old (found everywhere), the oloroso-finished Distillers Edition (found mostly online) and, apparently, Winter’s Gold (found mostly in bins).
Every so often, the professional piss-takers at Diageo will throw out an older version as part of their yearly Special Releases to appeal to a small number of hardcore fans, although you’ll need to be willing to part with a fair chunk of your hard-earned to get your hands on a bottle. That cunning combination of limited demand and questionable pricing is why, more than five years after release, you can easily get your hands on a bottle of today’s dram.
- Despite its rugged surroundings, Dalwhinnie’s proximity to a major trunk road means you’re far less likely to be sexually harassed by a farmer.
- Despite its rugged surroundings, Dalwhinnie’s proximity to a major trunk road means you’re far more likely to be murdered by a truck driver.
- Winter’s Gold was a vicious rumour started by a panicked brand ambassador in an attempt to make Mortlach appear less shit.
Nose: Big old whiff of heather honey, followed by malted milk biscuits, marzipan and a hint of allspice. Beeswax and a hint of snuffed candles as it opens up.
Palate: That wax from the nose is more evident, but the heather honey is the dominant force here. A decent amount of oak, flashes of cinnamon, some more honey and a good dose of roasted chestnuts.
Finish: Gentle but prolonged. Honeyed with spiced rice pudding and more of that gentle oak.
Thoughts: A real dark horse, but not for everyone. Hardcore Dalwhinnie fans (all eight of us) will really love this.
The best Dalwhinnie I’ve ever tried. As much as it pains me, it’s got to lose a bit of ground because of the high price and niche appeal, but this is within touching distance of greatness.