Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Diageo. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
In movies, a good director’s cut accomplishes a couple of things. You get a bit more of what you love, maybe a surprise or two, and maybe some more character development that wasn’t in the original. This applies to a good distiller’s edition as well. This review is one of several reviews looking at the 2021 Classic Malts Distillers Editions from Diageo, click here for the other reviews in this series. Everything in this product line starts by being aged in a barrel that is re-charred American oak with “crocodile-skin” charred new American oak ends. Then each distillery uses a different style of fortified wine to finish their spirit.
This review focuses on the 2021 Dalwhinnie The Distillers Edition. Dalwhinnie Distillery is located in the Cairngorms National Park in pretty much the center of Scotland. It is one of the highest altitude Scotch distilleries. They use a single 17,000 liter wash still and a single 14,000 liter spirit still to produce roughly 1.3 million liters a year. A large portion of this distillate ends up being blended into the Diageo owned Buchanan and Black & White blends.
Dalwhinnie’s flagship product is their 15-year-old single malt, which is known for its rich honey flavor. Single malt Scotch is legally required to be made from 100% malted barley, distilled at one location, and aged a minimum of three years in Scotland. Dalwhinnie uses water from Lochan an Doire Uaine, meaning Loch of the Green Thicket, and is the only distillery allowed to do so. Lochan an Doire Uaine is supplied from snowmelt and rainwater and is located in the Drumochter Hills. The location of the distillery is also one of the coldest parts of Scotland that is inhabited.
The Distillers Edition gets the added finish of Oloroso sherry casks. Oloroso is aged at a higher proof to keep flor from forming. Flor is a layer of yeast that can form during fermentation and aging. Oloroso has a high glycerol content that allows it to be perceived as sweeter even though it is naturally dry. This dry style of dessert wine helps to balance what is normally a very sweet Scotch.
Dalwhinnie has always been a great introduction to Scotch and something that can surprise people who have a set idea on what Scotch tastes like. The Distillers Edition allows for something a bit more complex while sticking to that sweeter profile that can be enjoyed by those who may not regularly partake in Scotch.
Tasting Notes: 2021 Dalwhinnie The Distillers Edition
Vital Stats: 43% ABV. Distilled in 2006 and bottled in 2021. Double matured in American oak and ex-oloroso casks.
Appearance: This is a light straw color. It forms a thick rim on the glass that takes a long time to form into tears.
Nose: This has the smell of a honeysuckle tree, whole oranges, and a bit of lemon oil. There is just a hint of the grain on the nose as well.
Palate: This is like drinking honey water. It is light and delicate while being full of flavor. It is certainly on the sweet side with notes of honey and star fruit. There is a brief note of cherry on the mid palate. The front and mid palate are quite clean while the finish has a bit of that sulfur taste. The finish is complemented by a light earthy spice, reminiscent of white pepper and allspice. The addition of water sees the sweetness subdued and all the flavors other than the honey are present for longer. There is just a bit of malt that wasn’t there straight out of the bottle as well.
I find this a bit too straight forward and sweet for my tastes. I prefer the Cragganmore Distillers Edition for a dessert pour, but this is a fantastic choice for anyone looking for a sweeter, easy drinking style of whisky. Dalwhinnie is a Scotch that I have used to introduce many people to the category, even those that were convinced they did not like Scotch of any kind.
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Ian Arnold was a bartender for 8 years. Having worked in California, Australia, and Portland, he last bartended at the Multnomah Whisk(e)y Library. He was part of the Oregon Bartenders' Guild's leadership and was a judge for multiple cocktail competitions. He now works in the IT field and continues to...