Dalmunach is one of the newest distilleries on the Scottish whisky scene that’s owned by a big players in the industry, Pernod Ricard (Chivas Brothers). The ultra-modern distillery was built in 2014 on the site of the former Imperial distillery (also owned by Pernod Ricard), which was demolished in 2013 simply because it wasn’t economical to be refurbished. Dalmunach distillery is in Speyside not far from the Dailuaine distillery. The name ‘Dalmunach’ comes from a nearby pool on the River Spey.
In August 2019 I spotted on a whisky forum that 4-year-old bottles from the new Dalmunach distillery were now on sale as part of ‘The Distillery Reserve Collection’. Unfortunately this bottle was only available in distillery shops belonging to Pernod Ricard. As fortune would have it I was intending to visit one of these, the Strathisla distillery in Keith but not until October. Before making plans I contacted the distillery to ask about the Dalmunach bottle but sadly they’d sold out. At 64.5% it was going to be hot but a nice chance to try something new. Currently this bottle scores 82.1/100 on Whiskybase from 11 member votes.
I had to wait until May 2020 before getting my next chance to claim a bottle of Dalmunach, this time from the Aberdeen Whisky Shop. This exclusive release was put together by the independent bottler Duncan Taylor as part of their ‘The Octave’ series. Of the 22 releases of Dalmunach listed on Whiskybase, 15 of them have come from Duncan Taylor, 14 of which as part of ‘The Octave’ range. As the name suggests, the whisky has had its final phase of maturation in a smaller octave cask (in this case ex-sherry) to “enhance its hue, taste, form and character”.
The majority of ‘The Octave’ releases score in the mid 80s out of 100, which goes to validate Duncan Taylor’s 40+ years of experience of small cask maturation. For my 3-year-old example (5 months spent in an octave cask) a review says “needs more ageing” but adds “looking forward to trying older Dalmunach in the future”. Most definitely!
When Ardbeg distillery reopened in 1997, production to create a new 10-year-old single malt began in earnest in 1998. This resulted in a 4-bottle series named ‘Very Young’ (2004, 6yo), ‘Still Young’ (2006, 8yo), ‘Almost There’ (2007, 9yo) and ‘Renaissance’ (2008, 10yo). Here are the scores for all 4 bottles from Whiskybase and Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible:
Renaissance – 87.56/100 (from 354 votes), 92/100 – Whisky Bible
Almost There – 86.26/100 (from 267 votes), 93/100 – Whisky Bible
Still Young – 85.23/100 (from 259 votes), 93/100 – Whisky Bible
Very Young – 84.82/100 (from 159 votes), 91/100 – Whisky Bible
The scores grow with the age of the Ardbeg on Whiskybase (much as you’d expect) but Jim Murray feels the Renaissance loses a point to the younger 9yo and 8yo. He remarks about the ‘Almost There’ with “further proof that a whisky doesn’t have to reach double figures in age to enter the realms of brilliance”. Nevertheless the scores for all 4 bottlings are excellent and scoring over 86/100 on Whiskybase is a fantastic mark.
Now I have the ‘Almost There’ will I get the other 3 bottles in the series? Probably not, mostly because the ‘Very Young’ goes for £250+ at auction. As much as I love collecting whisky my spending has limits. I enjoy drinking Ardbeg and the standard 10yo (£40) scores 86.5/100 on Whiskybase, which is nearly 2 points more than the ‘Very Young’. But there’s no denying that bottles such as the ‘Almost There’ are a good investment if the worldwide interest in whisky continues to grow.
Here’s ‘The Whisky Snob’ on You Tube, August 2016 with his review of the Ardbeg ‘Almost There’. Ignore the fact he says it’s a 10yo released in 2008, it’s a 9yo released in 2007 (he was obviously think of the Renaissance).
84.29/100 – Whiskybase (average from 26 member votes)
I’ve only recently taken an interest in single grain whisky, and the same can be said for closed distilleries. Cambus was a Scottish lowland, single grain distillery, which closed in 1993. When you get to my age, you have to pinch yourself when you realise that’s 22 years ago! But it amazes me when I see young adults performing on TV talent shows that were born in this millennium. 1993 to them must feel like ancient history.
Like blends, bottles of single grain whisky tend not to make good investments. Certainly not when compared to single malts. Nevertheless, I did buy this bottle of Cambus with an eye on the future. Bottled by Signatory as part of their ‘Vintage Cask Strength Collection’, this independent bottler has good pedigree, and releases from this closed distillery are only going to get older and older (and more expensive) in future years.
Although Jim Murray doesn’t review this exact bottling in his Whisky Bible 2015, the seven Cambus releases he talks about all get excellent marks. Scores range from 85.5/100 to a fantastic 97/100 for a 47yo bottle. Clearly Jim Murray is impressed with the house style from the lowland distillery. My bottling scores an excellent mark on Whiskybase. If you have a bottle, whether you drink it or save it as in investment, it was definitely an excellent purchase!
86.06/100 – Whiskybase (average from 18 member votes)
In my quest to find more interesting and obscure malt whisky, I recently stumbled across the Whisky Broker, a relative newcomer as an independent bottler. Although he’s almost a one-man band, I had nothing to fear about the level of service I was going to get. Initially I was a bit concerned when I discovered the last post on his website’s guest book was from 2011 but when I looked at his Facebook page I knew he was still very active in the realms of whisky. What also convinced me to give the Whisky Broker a go was Ralfy’s review in June 2013 of a bottle of Strathmill bought from said supplier (that review here). The bottles I ordered arrived within 5 days, well wrapped and in perfect condition.
As Ralfy says, you get plenty of information about the whisky you buy from the Whisky Broker. Here are the details supplied about this Dailuaine 20yo:
This Speyside whisky, distilled on 17th March 1992 at Dailuaine Distillery has been matured in an American Bourbon barrel for over 20 years. The whisky has not been chill filtered, nor has any colouring been added.
This whisky has been lightly filtered to remove large particles of wood sediment from the cask, but may still contain small traces, which are visible only when bottle is left standing for a period of time. Details: