Dalwhinnie 30 Years (Special Releases 2020)
I’ve always had a weak spot for Dalwhinnie, so I’m glad to see it featured in the Diageo Special Releases once again. This particular expression is an impressive 30 years old and has matured in refill American oak hogsheads. So, you know, bonus points for keeping it simple.
Anyone who’s ever driven past or visited Dalwhinnie will know that the two giant worm tub condensers are a defining feature of the distillery. Interestingly though, the new Dalwhinnie 30 Years was distilled in 1989, during a period when the distillery was outfitted with shell-and-tube condensers.
These were introduced to Dalwhinnie in 1986 during a modernisation of the distillery. However, after a while the owners realised it affected the new make in such a way, that they simply had to re-install worm tubs in 1995. But even then the character wasn’t quite the same as it once was.
Lesson learned for Diageo, I suppose. Although I’m still skeptic if Clynelish will ever be the same after the massive overhaul of that distillery a few years back.
Dalwhinnie 30 Years (51.9%, OB, Special Releases 2020)
Nose: Extremely elegant oak and some lovely juicy fruits (nectarine, lemon), accompanied by a feint waxiness and touches of honey. Sweet pastries, a whiff of chalk and even some liquorice root. Textbook Dalwhinnie notes of crisp green apple. It’s energetic and vibrant yet distinguished. That’s hard to pull off. Pretty much perfect.
Taste: Lovely, just lovely. Soft tannins and gentle spices pave the road for pink grapefruit and lemon zest. Hints of eucalyptus, chalk and an interesting earthiness. There’s a lot of life still in this decades old single malt.
Finish: More of the above. Some menthol as well. Surprisingly quite short.
The short finish doesn’t really take anything away. This is an excellent malt from a distillery that I really quite like. Most of Dalwhinnie’s output is top notch, I also enjoy their standard 15 Years. This is of another level though. Which reminds me I still have a closed bottle of Dalwhinnie 1973 stashed away somewhere. That might have to be digged up soon.
More Diageo Special Releases 2020
Do you want to read more of my reviews of this year’s Diageo Special Releases? I’ve compiled a neat little list below. Enjoy!
- Pittyvaich 1989 30 Years
- Mortlach 1999 21 Years
- Talisker 2011 8 Years
- The Singleton 2002 17 Years
- Cragganmore 1999 20 Years
- Cardhu 2008 11 Years
- Lagavulin 2007 11 Years
Sample provided by Diageo
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.