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Archive for June, 2010

I got a press release from Diageo about a special Father’s Day deal. I’m attaching the full release below, but here’s the short version: Buy a bottle of Singleton 12, Talisker 10 or Dalwhinnie 15 and get two tickets to a “whisky master class,” which sounds like a really fun and educational whisky tasting. Note that the classes are only available in the following UK locations: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, York, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, Shrewsbury, Cambridge, Norwich, Oxford, Cardiff, Bristol, South London, North London, Chichester, Exeter

If anybody goes to one of these, I’d love to hear what you think of Diageo’s master class. Here’s the press release:

With Father’s Day rapidly approaching, the hunt begins for the ideal gift for the deserving Dad. The Ultimate Single Malt Whisky Experience could just be what you’re looking for.

This year help is at hand, for the first time, The Classic Malts Selection is offering the perfect solution. Buy a bottle of either THE SINGLETON® OF DUFFTOWN 12 year old single malt scotch whisky, TALISKER® 10 year old single malt scotch whisky or DALWHINNIE® 15 year old single malt scotch whisky, and receive two complimentary V.I.P invitations to a whisky master class. The Classic Malts team of whisky ambassadors will be hosting masterclasses in 17 major cities nationwide.
Research shows that over a third of alcohol gifts bought for Father’s Day[1] are single malt whiskies. So why not take it a step further this year, at no extra cost, present your dad with two tickets to a malt masterclass where he will try four different Scotch malt whiskies in the company of an experienced ambassador, who knows, he might just invite you to go with him!

The complimentary whisky master class, hosted by a single malt whisky ambassador, will guide you through the world of single malt whisky using THE SINGLE MALT WHISKY FLAVOUR MAP™. With so many ages, regions and distilleries out there, there’s a diverse and exciting world of flavour for your father to explore. With the aid of the Single Malt Whisky Flavour Map, which has been created by experts, you/he can pin-point each flavour and identify what type of whisky suits your taste.

Your whisky ambassador will provide a selection of four Single Malt Scotch Whiskies for you to experience and savour, after the tasting they will leave you with your very own flavour map and some serving suggestions to inspire your newly acquired whisky knowledge.

For the perfect original gift this Father’s Day, choose either the ‘Perfectly balanced, naturally rich and smooth’ The SingletonÒ of Dufftown 12 year old, the ‘characterful and smoky’ TaliskerÒ 10 year old, or the ‘mellow, soft and fruity’ Dalwhinnie®  15 year old, available at all major retailers. Don’t forget you’ll also receive two invitations to this exclusive whisky master class.

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Introduction

Dalmore Mackenzie

Last year, on my 40th birthday, I treated myself to a bottle of Laphroaig 30 year and had a “scotch party” to share it with friends. That was actually my first birthday as a “scotch drinker.” I decided I liked the idea of celebrating my birthday with a special, limited edition bottling. I didn’t want to spend quite as much this year, but was keeping my eye out for the right whisk(e)y when The Dalmore announced the pending release of “Mackenzie” in March. Priced at around $125 (although not available in the U.S.), Mackenzie is a limited release of 3,000 bottles, all individually numbered with a special molten metal stag on the bottle.

Specially crafted by Master Distiller Richard Paterson, the Mackenzie started its maturation process in American white oak casks in 1992. After 11 years, it was put into fresh port pipes for another 7 or so years and bottled at 46%. Additionally, each bottle comes with a card, instructing the purchaser how to get a free limited edition print (12″x16″) of the famous “Fury of the Stag” painting that is also printed on the box. Finally, a portion of the proceeds go to The Mackenzie Clan, with whome the Dalmore distillery has long been affiliated. You can read more about the bottling, the painting, and the release party in this article at Luxist.com.

Tasting and Comparing

Oh, this is a good one!

The nose is rich and fruity, with lots of dried red fruits. The Dalmore citrus is apparently toned down quite a bit from the time in port casks. Not as much sherry sweetness as in the Dalmore 21 year. Actually, this is VERY close in character to Highland Park 18, including a hint of smoke. The HP has an earthy component not present in Mackenzie, but everything else is there. Actually, the nose on Mackenzie is not quite as expressive as the other whiskies I’m comparing it to, but stick your nose in there and spend some time with it and it’s well worth the effort.
The palate has good body and retains the fruity character. As it passes towards the back of the tongue, a nice spiciness takes hold. Bottling this at 46% was an excellent choice!
On the finish, the spices carry on through, joined again by red fruits, oak and a hint of smoke. When comparing directly to Dalmore 21, I thought the Mackenzie presented cherries on the finish as well. I haven’t read anything about Dalmore using peat like HP does, but I keep thinking there’s some hidden in here. Maybe it’s just the interaction of the oak with the spirit? It lasts every bit as long as the HP 18 and Dalmore 21. A very enjoyable finish.

Mackenzie and Dalmore 21

Comments: This is only my third Dalmore (after the 12 and 21 year bottlings), but it’s now my reference for this distillery. The only negative I took away during comparisons was that I had to work harder to coax out the nose. Overall, I like this better than the 21 year. I think the Dalmore 21 falls squarely in the “dessert malt” category. The Mackenzie certainly can be used in this way, but I think it’s more versatile, like HP 18. Now, between Mackenzie and HP 18, it’s pretty close to a draw, though I’m leaning slightly towards Mackenzie because of the extra oomph provided by the 3% additional ABV. Thank you Richard Paterson for crafting this delightful malt…more like this, please!

Rating

  • Score: 90/100 (A-) After comparing this directly to HP 18, I might consider dropping my score on that one from 90 to 89. They’re very close, though.
  • Bottom Line: Outstanding balance, and great use of Port casks. Maybe it’s the 46% bottling, but there’s an extra kick on the late palate and early finish that I haven’t experienced from other Dalmores. I’m going to miss this bottle when it’s gone.
  • Value: Ok, this isn’t cheap, and if you’re in the U.S., you’re going to have to pay shipping from Europe. However, when you combine the nice packaging, contribution to the Mackenzie Clan, and of course, the great taste, I think it’s a treat well worth the asking price. Given all of the $500+ “special releases” floating around these days, I’d be happy to see more like this one.

Other opinions

  • Luxist.com – I linked to them up at the top of the article. They’re quite impressed with this one as well.
  • What Does John Know – 91 points here. Another very positive review!
  • whisky-pages.com (scroll down) – Rating this the same as Gran Reserva, they also noted smoke and cherries (glace).

Mackenzie Box

Card depicting 'Fury of the Stag' painting

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