"The 15 is good. As I’d hoped, its sherry fruitiness was muted in the same way that 18+ sherried malts are – leathery and resiny with some umami notes bordering on meaty. Think old leather furniture and orange-scented upholstery cleaner. The house characteristic orange was in force, but as a contributing player and not the main event. This 15 year-old tastes to me like a much more accomplished 17- or 18 year-old sherry finish"
Some of the crafting and fancy barrel management that pulled this off is described on Dalmore's own web site:
" For this Dalmore, 13 years in American Bourbon Casks and then a year split between Matusalem, Apostoles and Amoroso sherry butts from Jerez de la Frontera have been elemental. And to achieve this extra layer of complexity, we marry these liquids together in an upstanding sherry butt for one final year. The redolence of these vessels delivers the perfect balance between spirit, wood and maturity."
That's some fancy barrel management and some serious apparent concern about the specific sherry flavors. Part of the Scotch Noob's appreciation is the value equation. Not discounted currently, Dalmore 15 is currently running $65-$85 in the NY metro area. This is around what, say, Glendronach 15 runs around here. That's only interesting if it stands up to Glendronach. I was half expecting this to be a bit overblown - but I took the Scotch Noob's recommendation and tried it.
Dalmore 15 40% abv
Color: Rich copper tinted medium amber
Nose: A rich and noble sherried whisky aroma: dried bitter orange slices, sandalwood incense, jammy figs wrapped in dry parma ham, nuts, and a bit of tanned leather like nice men's gloves. Reminiscent of Glendronach - high praise.
Entry: surprisingly dry on entry but loaded with flavor: old oak and walnut furniture lead off, with a fairly rich oily mouth feel. Then citrus, fig, prune and black raisin fruits with a trace of rancio, leather and black pepper bloom at mid-palate. A vinous dark sherry note warms the turn to the finish for a moment. Then walnuts and walnut skin tannins and bracing bitter flavors dominate the lovely warm finish which isn't particularly lingering but isn't abrupt either. There's a feeling of butteriness - or prochutto fat - in the finish along with the nut skins and old sherry flavors that's quite nice.
A few drops of water accentuates the ham meatiness in the nose. After a few minutes some traces of stone fruit and more spiced incense old oak furniture smells too.
The water takes the august majesty down a notch and thins the mouth feel a bit but adds a bit of sweetness and light. Spicy heat joins the dark rich medley of flavor elements - and a nice buttery note. Ultimately I preferred it neat but, despite the low 40% abv the flavor density is rich enough to add a bit of water.
All in all a lovely sherry bomb quite reminiscent of Glendronach 15, so it seemed. So, characteristically I set it up in a head to head against Glendronach 15 OB 40% abv which was moderately sherried and Glendronach 18yo 1993/2011 (54.9%, OB, Oloroso Sherry Butt 1, 509 bts) which was rich and syrupy and intense. The Dalmore 15 wasn't the massive sherry bomb the Glendronach 18 was, but the flavor signature was much closer to it than it was to the comparatively aged and priced Glendronach 15. Scotch Noob's words came back to me: "This 15 year-old tastes to me like a much more accomplished 17- or 18 year-old sherry finish". Indeed. He had nailed it. Dalmore 15 tastes more like an 18 than a 15. It has the flavor signature of a bigger, older, sherry bomb.
Dalmore 15 should take its place along side the Macallan and Glenfarclas and Glendronach as a real world non-cask strength everyday sherried dram with a lovely complexity and spin all its own. This is eye opening value for the price and quality in absolute terms. High 4 stars - almost 5: