The Whisky Tasting Club

Dalmore Rivers

Highly priced super premium whiskies have been receiving a fair amount of flak recently, most risibly from Born Again Buxton who has reinvented himself as a man of the people though he wasn’t above being paid to help market  Glenglassaugh 40 year old at £1400 plus a pop.

Given my impeccable Socialist credentials (me and Tommy Sheridan, eh? Whoops) I suppose I should be outraged and appalled by the idea of malt whisky costing thousands of pounds.

But I’m not, and for the following reasons:

  1. I’ll never buy a bottle of whisky costing thousands or even hundreds of pounds. Or even want to.  But I’ll never buy a Ferrari, own a private jet or rent an apartment at The Savoy. Or want to. I can appreciate how special and beautiful they are but they are not for me. Some people have got more money than you. Some people have a lot more. We tried to do something about that and we failed. Get over it.
  2. Great whisky is art and great and rare art costs a lot of money. If a high price tag gets people asking questions, and thinking about craftsmanship and age, then that’s all good. Many people still don’t know why malt whisky isn’t vodka. A £10,000 price tag is one way of starting that conversation.
  3. Many distilleries make no sense economically. I see breweries in the Home Counties close because they’re not economic. What, and Jura, Talisker and Highland Park are? The accountants won’t understand the point of these remote distilleries, and at best they tolerate them as business follies. But Mr Moneybags Is much more likely to tolerate Jura on the one hand if he’s got a £300,000 cheque for three bottles of Trinitas in the other.
  4. Big priced whiskies make it possible to help good causes…

 which brings me to The Dalmore. They have already supported The Clan Mackenzie with a special bottling, and this week they launched Castle Leod, which is the second Mackenzie bottling and will maintain the Clan’s home. Now they have put out four bottles, each priced at a reasonable £40, to support Scotland’s great fishing rivers, which are suffering from erosion and underinvestment.

That’s praiseworthy. But are they any good?

 Dee Dram

Woah! Maybe not the best place to start your whisky day. Like walking from a monastery in to a Motorhead concert. You stumble on a wave of burnt treacle, overdone toast and battering ram oak. Look for them and you’ll find dried fruits, raisins, with citrus and blood orange notes. Would I like another? Lemmy at it…

 Spey Dram

Much more mannered, with the trademark orange and dried fruits delivered on an oilier and softer base carpet, with marzipan, grapefruit and some tropical fruits having a say.

Tay Dram

Delightfully spicy, with deeper fruit notes like peach or apricot rumtopf leading the way into the main oak-panelled room where pepper, peach, and lemon jostle each other and the citrus and spice have the last waltz.

Tweed Dram

The best for last? This is the softest, sweetest, most rounded and balanced of all four, with the apricot, pear, grape and sweet grapefruit ushered along on a soft carpet of pepper and paprika. It has a cordial element, a metrosexual side to what can be a prop forward of a malt. Happened to taste this while listening to Stairway to Heaven. Restrained power, flickering flames flaring in to a majestic sensual firework display, brilliant, complex and yet instantly likeable and accessible?

Yep, a perfect combination…

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