Alex Murray Dalmore 15yr...$119.99 / 750ml
In one of quirkiest distillation setups in Scotland, Dalmore distillery produces spirit that represents one of the extremes of the ever-so-difficult-to-categorize Highland region. Entirely dissimilar to its Oban, Glenmorangie or any of the other well-known Highland contenders, its character is arguably more-akin to some of the ‘Speysiders’.
Decidedly odd flat-top stills – which certainly allow a seasoned malt enthusiast a double-take when entering the still house – are in place at the distillery. One of but a handful in Scotland, Dalmore also employs water jackets – ‘bains marie’ – to promote reflux during distillation and thus lighten the resulting spirit; inconsistent still sizes add to the peculiarity. For sure an odd configuration; like Jim Furyk’s golf swing Dalmore proves that there’s no ‘right way’ of producing the goods.
Cereal led, there’s a real malt-loaf character about the spirit produced here which handles a good rest in sherry casks like a dream. As such, that’s always been the favored scheme at Dalmore, although not exclusively.
Reminiscent of the holiday season and all its glorious flavors, Dalmore is an explosive Christmas cracker that always ought to be on the table.
Alex Murray Glen Garioch 20yr...$119.99 / 750ml
Causing confusion since 1797, Glen Garioch (yes it really is pronounced glen-GHEE-ree) has been responsible for a significant proportion of Scottish bartenders’ wry smirks in recent decades, since showing prominence as a frequently ordered single malt.
Its name is Doric, which is an entirely incomprehensible dialect spoken in Aberdeenshire in Scotland, where men are ‘loons’ and women are ‘quines’, and where walking down the street, a sharp “fit like” is a genuinely friendly salutation. It all sounds odd, but these unique pastures represent the birthplace and heritage of Alexander Murray & Co.
Perhaps a little biased, it goes without saying that Glen Garioch Distillery is a real favorite within the company. It is located in the sleepy town of Old Meldrum in the Highland region. Backed by real substance, its single malt is that rich malty/smoky combination that hits it home every time. Thick, sweet, lively, luscious… we need not say more.
Worth noting is that through change of ownership during the mid 1990s, use of peat in production was ceased, meaning that vintages after 1995 are unpeated and display a delicate character. We hear there’s the odd peated run these days, so let’s see how that develops. Get the older expressions while they last!
Alex Murray Bunnahabhain 28yr...$299.99 / 750ml
Truly a sight to behold is the way Bunnahabhain sits undaunted by its austere surroundings. The distillery faces the sound of Islay just up the coast from Port Askaig, where the sea batters against the rocks with picturesque severity. The harshness of the scene carries a contradictory beauty.
What’s also curious is how a distillery, subjected so severely to the ferocious elements of the Atlantic, can create such a delicate whisky with fantastic balance and subtlety amongst an infamously ‘rowdy’ group of nearby peers.
Bunnahabhain, although subject to alterations during changes of ownership, has maintained a very subtle style of whisky through the years. While her neighbors adopt the use of peat, there is none to be found in older vintages of Bunnahabhain. Instead, gentle salty, nutty and fruity traits are found.
Today the distillery, during certain weeks of the year, does make heavily-peated whisky which gives completely different delight to the palate.
Like a handful of others, Bunnahabhain is a distillery whose whisky shines during both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry cask maturation, developing vastly different characters along the way.