Taste Review #34 – Dalmore King Alexander III
I had a return visit to the Bon Accord Bar in Glasgow in early October, but this time with the wife in tow. We had been to see the last performance of Still Game, a popular Scottish situation comedy, which had finally come to the end of its life. It was a bit of a long walk back to our hotel, and the bar came to our rescue for some mid journey refreshments.
My wife picked something from Macallan, but having only just visited the distillery the day before, I was wanting something a bit more exciting and in my collection without breaking the bank. And so it comes to the Dalmore King Alexander III.
The Dalmore Distillery sits on the banks of the Cromarty Firth, beside the town of Alness. It’s a pretty distillery with a fantastic view, apart from the hulks of drilling rigs awaiting repair, contracts or scrapping. Owned by Whyte and Mackay, they have the charismatic Richard Patterson as their Master Blender. You really should look at some of the videos he is included in on YouTube. Definitely one of a kind.
The Dalmore distillery is unique in the fact that it was heavily damaged in 1920. Not through the usual distillery fires, but an explosion when the distillery was being used by the Royal Navy to manufacture and store mines.
The Dalmore distillery was founded in 1839, and eventually passed into the hands of the MacKenzie family. In 1263, legend has it that the first chief of the MacKenzie clan had saved Alexander the 3rd, King of Scotland from a charging stag. As a reward, the King granted the MacKenzie’s to use the 12 pointed Royal Stag as its clan crest. The stag is the emblem of the Dalmore brand, and there is a metallic looking stags head stuck on each bottle.
This particular Dalmore whisky, the King Alexander III, has been matured in no less than 6 types of cask that have previously contained Madeira and Marsala wines, Port, Bourbon, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Matusalem Oloroso sherry. A whisky born in a legend with a phenomenal amount of finishing – will it match expectations? Let’s find out.
No Age Statement
Summer fruits. Blackberries, Raspberries, Vanilla, Toffee, perhaps a hint of marzipan.
Dried fruits, prunes, vanilla, mulled wine spices, almonds.
Long finish, chocolate notes, cloves, cinnamon, slightly drying.
Some of you might have twigged that I have mentioned both Whyte & Mackay and Richard Patterson before. Dalmore is owned by the same people that make Jura Journey. But don’t worry, the alarm bells are definitely not ringing. Dalmore is known for some very fine whisky that can reach premium prices – hundreds of thousands of pounds. There is nothing to fear here at all.
I was apprehensive about the alcohol strength being 40% as that can mean a boring whisky. But not this time. Not even the lack of an age statement should put you off. This is a whisky very worthy of its place on the shelves of any whisky enthusiast. Yes, it may be more exciting with a higher abv, but it doesn’t need it. The trick here is to savour. Don’t drink quickly. Don’t even swill it in your mouth. Just keep it there for a minute. This is a dram that rewards you with patience. As I was in a bar towards closing time, I didn’t get a chance to savour as long as I should have done. Perhaps a revisit will be called for.
I paid £14.90 for this, and I managed to get a bottle at auction for £140 including all fees. They retail between £160 and £200. A bit expensive for some, but by no means a rare whisky. Definitely one worth trying.
Dalmore has a decent visitor centre too. Why not pay a visit if you are ever in the Inverness area? Glen Ord, Glenmorangie, and Balblair distilleries aren’t a million miles away either!
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photo – authors own