HERE IS A WORTHY dram. The remote Dalwhinnie distillery is situated just about smack-dab in the middle of Scotland and indisputably in the Highlands. In fact, it’s reportedly the highest of them all at over 1,000 ft. above sea level. Thus it’s a natural representative in the branded Classic Malts series (now managed by Diageo) as a gentler companion alongside rich heavyweights like Lagavulin and Talisker.
In the glass it shows a golden meadlike hue with narrow but slow legs. The nose opens softly with leather, vanilla, and notes of honey apropos of its color (caramel added, but not terribly much). On the palate heather spiciness carries into the midsection with some relatively mild prickle from its 86 proof, where an oaky warmth is forward along with honey and grain. Peat smoke is very gentle—a silk handkerchief to wrap up other flavors instead of being one itself. This neat little bundle develops into a deep warming crackle and a long, lingering finish of nuts, a nearly cocoa level of smoothness, and a touch more of smoke’s coating textures.
Well-matured to 15 years, Dalwhinnie may not be a profoundly deep malt but it executes with an alluring and encompassing grace. Combining notes of fruit, florals, honey, and smoke, it’s a winsome balance of powers from a Highland exemplar.