Whiskey Review: The Dalmore 12-Year-Old

, | August 24, 2016

The Dalmore 12 Year Old The Dalmore distillery is located in Alness, near Inverness, in the Highland region of Scotland. Distilling operations began in 1839, though the legends surrounding the label extend much farther back in Scottish history.

King Alexander III was saved from a stag by Colin of Kintail – the chief of Clan MacKenzie and ancestor of former Dalmore distillery operators – while on a hunt in the year 1263. In appreciation for this act of bravery, the king granted the lands of Eilean Donan and the right to bear the stag’s head in their coat of arms to Clan MacKenzie. Though the Mackenzies leasing of the Dalmore distillery only lasted from 1867 through 1960, their stag’s head continues to adorn bottles of The Dalmore on store shelves worldwide to this day.

Commonly referred to as simply “The 12,” The Dalmore 12-year-old single malt is the opening selection from The Dalmore’s Principal Collection. Alongside 15-, 18-, and 25-year-old expressions, the collection is rounded out with the revamped Cigar Malt Reserve and King Alexander III non age statement releases. Additionally, The Dalmore offers ever increasingly rare and accordingly more expensive whiskies in their Constellation and Legendary Releases series, along with travel retail exclusive bottlings.

This particular single malt spends the first nine years of its aging process housed in ex-bourbon barrels before half of the whisky is separated out. One half of the whisky remains in ex-bourbon barrels, while the other is aged in 30-year-old Gonzalez Byass Matusalem oloroso sherry butts for the remaining three years. The two halves of The Dalmore 12 are then brought back together as a single finished product.

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Tasting Notes: The Dalmore 12-Year-Old

Vital Stats: 40% ABV (80 proof), 12 years old, 100% malted barley, around $65 per 750ml bottle.

Appearance: Deep amber and bronze tones. Medium legs.

Nose: Cinnamon ice cream, roasted almonds, and fresh caramel fudge melting on the stovetop.

Palate: Chocolate, and lots of it, mingles with sherry and spiced oak. Very sweet and rich, with a full and thick mouthfeel. The finish is characterized by soft, sweet, lingering toffee notes that stick around long after the dram is downed.


The Dalmore 12-year-old single malt is not an overly complex whisky by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t think it sets out to be. The presentation of the bottle is clean and straightforward, as is the case with any of the standard releases available from this label. The sweetness of the dram is the most forward element in both the nose and the palate. While this makes the whisky immediately approachable, it also tends to quickly lead to palate fatigue in my own personal experience. It does not take long for the heavy sweetness to become a bit much, not dissimilar from eating too many pancakes in one sitting.

The price in the mid-$60 range is reasonable for a quality single malt, which this certainly is.


User Review
3.75 (4 votes)


Joshua St. John

When not sampling whiskey, Joshua St. John can most likely be found running the trails of the Pacific Northwest surrounding his home in Portland, Oregon. A lifelong world-traveler, Joshua was first introduced to single malts while visiting distilleries in Scotland, and continues to explore the world through the countless interpretations...