A cask that Edgar Allan Poe would die for

February 4, 2021

The Dalmore 12-Year-Old Sherry Cask Select

There’s something special about sherry cask whisky. The first sip, on rocks or straight, hints of cinnamon and other spices, vanilla and caramelized orange; a winter seasonal flurry somewhere far off in the distance; you taste a bit of candy, chocolate, the revenants of aged oak, but with a smooth, cake-like finish…

Okay, enough waxing poetic. I’ve come to value sherry cask finishes — they’re like the deft artistic strokes that transform a simple whiskey landscape into something transcend it. Recently, we got to experience The Dalmore 12-Year-Old Sherry Cask Select, part of Whyte & Mackay’s brand portfolio. Whyte & Mackay is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Emperador under Alliance Global Group, Inc. (They also recently brought in Tamnavulin Speyside single malts, including a superb sherry cask edition.)

The Dalmore’s excellence precedes it. The Scottish distillery has been around for about 180 years, and the 12-year-old single-malt sherry cask is their new addition to the Principal Collection, bringing out the brand’s connection to Spain’s sherry-making industry.

Decadence has rarely tasted this refined.

First the Scotch is matured for 10 years in carefully selected old bourbon casks made from European and American white oak, known for its active, extractive qualities.

Master Distiller Richard Paterson partnered with three cooperage (cask-making) partners from Andalucia in Southern Spain, Tevasa, Vasyma and Paez, resulting in perfect oak casks to create a bespoke sherry blend to season these casks, drawing out the exact flavor profile sought by Paterson.

Pick up the distinctive bottle, with its 12-point silver stag emblem, loosen the cork and pour a glass. Hold up your cairn, and admire its deep mahogany hue. Nose the glass, with its caramelized orange, ginger and sultanas laced with honey; there’s a faint hint of cooked fruit, a whiff of fresh grass in the distance.

What comes through in the glass is a bespoke sherry blend of aged oloroso (a dark, nutty medium-sweet sherry wine) and Pedro Ximénez sherry. The layering adds up to “an assemblage of sherry cask finishes,” a sublime experience of sherry and oak influences, bringing forth sweet fruit and rich spices.

On first sip, you taste dark chocolate, crushed almonds, and a dusting of cinnamon. But wait for the finish: it’s a smooth clarion call of sweet mangos, panna cotta and lemon sponge cake. Highly enjoyable.

Decadence in a bottle: The Dalmore Master Distiller Richard Paterson noses a cairn of its Sherry Cask Select.

When we think of sherry, we often think of syrupy-sweet dessert wines. It’s only natural to aspire to something higher in this age-old fortified spirit made from white grapes. Cask aging is the thing that draws out its sophistication, maturity, experience. Think Edgar Allan Poe’s obsession with a cask of Amontillado. Or salt and pepper touches on George Clooney.

“The Dalmore 12-Year-Old Sherry Cask Select is elegance personified and an excellent addition to our Principal Collection,” Paterson shares. “Its full finish in oloroso and Pedro Xime?nez sherry casks reveals a more floral, light and refined side to The Dalmore. It is a truly decadent whisky which celebrates the deep-rooted alliances with our cooperage partners to source the most exquisite casks and showcase the depth of The Dalmore’s character.”

Decadence has rarely tasted this refined.

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