I have recently returned from more whisky based adventures, this time at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival – I would recommend everyone attend next year as it is a fabulous experience – and while up there I got the chance to try something very special indeed while sat in the Quaich bar. It is the sort of whisky that you will never forget, no matter how many whiskies you try in the future. It was a 34yo Dallas Dhu, bottled by Gordon and MacPhail.
On our last night at the festival we attended a night of music, tall tales and whisky infused ramblings at the Quaich bar, in the Craigellachie Hotel. The night was hosted by Dave Broom and Lomond ‘Ziggy’ Campbell. It was very relaxed and casual event with banter, great music and of course…whisky! It was the perfect night to end our festival, but when one of my friends offers to buy us a round of Dallas Dhu, 34 years old, how could I possibly say no? It was an incredible dram, so full of flavour and character, and in that place, at that time, with those people around me; it was the best whisky I have ever tried. So good I decided I had to write about it, so that’s enough of this cheesy background story, let’s get into the review!
Dallas Dhu is a legend of Speyside which, sadly, is no longer with us. It was terminally closed in 1983 by DCL and sold 3 years later to historic Scotland – Dallas Dhu is now a museum which you can visit, all the equipment is still in place but unfortunately nothing runs off the stills. It was built in 1898 as ‘Dallasmore’ by the then well-known Glasgow based blenders Wright & Greig Ltd. on land granted by the unsung hero of whisky Alexander Edwards. The distillery changed hands several times over the next 30 years or so before being acquired by DCL in 1929. They closed it the following year and remained closed for most of the 30’s, the stillhouse was destroyed by a fire in 1939 and it remained closed through World War 2. It eventually reopened in 1947 and during the 50’s and 60’s a lot of work was done to the distillery in order to modernise it and increase efficiency. When the whisky industry collapsed in the 1980’s this was one of the unfortunates on DCL’s hit list, sadly never to open again. Luckily though there are still a few casks hidden away and bottles on the market, they are just very expensive and few and far between. I’m going to enjoy this, a true part of Scotch whisky history.
This has got a hugely interesting nose for how old it is, it’s very fresh and vibrant and floral and nowhere near as oaky as you might expect. A grass/hay-like note appears first which is quickly accompanied by fresh herbal notes of oregano, rosemary and slight menthol note of spearmint leaves. Gentle tropical aromas push through the herbs with pineapple, over ripe banana, pineapple, yellow plum, did I say pineapple? With time sweeter biscuit-like characters start to appear with buttery digestive biscuits, shortbread and a dusty butterscotch smell – I do love some dusty butterscotch. Some milk chocolate mixes with the butterscotch and shortbread giving a note not dissimilar to millionaire shortbread. The chocolate is joined by some delicate spice in the form of ginger, anise and sweet cracked pink pepper. This has such an interesting nose and is one of the most floral and tropical drams I’ve had, pineapple syrup galore! This is a dram of cakes and puddings on the nose with pineapple upside-down cake, millionaire shortbread and banana bread. Wow!
Slightly sour and bitter initially on the palate but the sweetness comes through in a big way after a few seconds with apples, sweet malt and candied citrus peel. Millionaire shortbread again comes through – if you don’t know what this is it’s shortbread with caramel/toffee sauce and a layer of milk chocolate on top, another healthy Scottish delicacy! The millionaire shortbread is joined by desiccated coconut, stewed fruits (raisins and currants) and sultana loaf. It’s quite odd because it feels old, very old, but at the same time it is incredibly light and delicate. More floral, summer meadow-like flavours develop towards the back of the palate as does a greater sense of woody oak. At the last a subtle hint of sherry begins to come through.
Sweet oak and a light sweetness lead the charge with rich tannins, runny honey and icing sugar in the finish. That sherry note comes through too with more dried fruits, gentle spice and dark chocolate. The finish is super floral and green again, with hay, fresh cut grass, and pears and apples. At the back of the finish a slightly acidic note of over ripe grapes develops, to the point of being almost winey as it gently fades away in what is a fairly lengthy finish for being bottled at 43%.
Well there we have it, my scrawled thoughts on an incredible dram on a night of whisky, music and fun. This is my first ever taste of Dallas Dhu, and I hope it won’t be my last. It is sad to think that in the next few years this whisky will be gone forever once the last casks have been bottled. I’m glad I got to try this at least once, a dram of sweet and floral tropical goodness. I have no idea how much this bottle costs, if it is still available, but I’m not even going to look it up. I will keep the memory as it is, a perfect dram on a perfect night, with great company and music. Who knows, maybe one day smoke will rise again from the chimneys at Dallas Dhu and spirit may once again pour from the stills.