The latest in The Dalmore’s fund raising releases is the Castle Leod, to save from further disrepair, the ancestral seat of the Clan Mackenzie near Inverness – and one of the small handful of Scottish castles still occupied by descendants of the original owners.
The nose is very soft with rich wine notes from the Cabernet Sauvignon casks. In amongst the dark berry red wine aromas, ripe strawberries float to the front and quickly duck away to be followed by rich butterscotch and a sweet tomato ragu. There’s dry orange peel ducking in and out with a touch of peppermint before the strawberries come back. After a drop of water it’s like a raspberry bush in a hot day, fresh orange and lemon juice, and the peppermint becomes more prominent.
Fresh oranges on the mid-weight and spirity palate are beautifully accompanied by milk chocolate and white pepper. These are pretty dominant over tiny hints of creamy coffee and salt-butter caramel. When I added splash of water all of these soft, creamy flavours gave way to lemonade and sharp vibrant raspberry coulis.
Bottled at 46%, the initial spirity impact of the palate was surprising for The Dalmore, which I normally find to be weighty and soft. Despite this, you really get the wine influence in all aspects of this whisky, which is a bit of a struggle. It’s a combination of a delicate spirit with a pretty robust style of wine, so there is a competition for dominance in the glass. That being said, it does require plenty of time and consideration, and if you give it time to develop, the competing characters slowly come together in a thoroughly enjoyable dram well worth sharing.