Whisky Advocate

Review: The Dalmore 18 year old

May 11th, 2010

The Dalmore, 18 year old, 43%, $150
Aged in American oak for 14 years and then finished off in Spanish sherry butts for several more. A rich, lush, sherried Dalmore expression. Fruity notes of succulent orange, strawberry rhubarb tart, and sultana on a bed of toffee and vanilla. A peppering of cinnamon, lemon rock candy, chocolate-covered coffee bean and lavender adds complexity. Perhaps a little heavy-handed with the sherry. But still, it’s a solid effort and a Dalmore to enjoy after dinner or as a nightcap.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 87

No Responses to “Review: The Dalmore 18 year old”

  1. Gal says:

    never had the 18 but the 15 is amazing in my view. anyone here had it?

  2. Red_Arremer says:

    Yeah, this is the bottle where I asked the product rep.

    “isn’t the pricing a little high?”
    And he said, “Not at all. It’s right where an 18 year old whisky should be– same as the Macallan 18.”
    Well, I had a few things to say– Just use your imagination on that one…

    I tried it and it’s very nice, but the value is so bad it’s an insult. Wouldn’t touch it in a million years. It’s like christ– Use your head Dalmore: people can get a bottle of Lagavulin DE for a hundred bucks, a bottle of Glenfarclas 21 for a hundred ten, a bottle of Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX for 80– maybe someone else can finish this list for me because it just goes on and on.

    • Rick Duff says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more Red.. way too pricey. It won’t pass over my lips at that price.

    • two-bit cowboy says:

      Red, here are a couple more: Bruichladdich 1992 Sherry PX 17 years old could fill the same niche for less money; It’s sweet but not overly heavy handed with the sherry. Glenrothes 1985 is another.

  3. gllaguno says:

    The dalmore is coming to Mexico this year!

  4. Marc says:

    …as Red was saying, Laphroaig 18 which is phenomenal, Talisker 18 which is wonderful, even an Airigh nam Biest from Ardbeg, all cheaper and better whisky. IMHO Macallan needs to wake up or they will price themselves out of the market.

    • Red_Arremer says:

      I think Dalmore’s more likely to “price themselves out of the market” than Macallan. Macallan’s reputation as “the luxury malt” is as well established to your grandma as it is to your kid, who’s in college. Dalmore on the other hand, is really not known by your average jane or jack at all. Sure some awesome(ly exclusive and awesomely priced) older bottlings have made modest PR ripples in the realms of luxury and whisky appreciation– but Dalmore needs to face facts.

      The Dalmore’s core audience has been appreciators of value, not luxury. When I started drinking whisky, what I used to hear was that the 12 and the cigar malt were some of the best values on the market and that 21 was more than worth it’s weight as well. Only in marketers’ dreams can a low profile brand like that simply shift gears and become The Macallan, a brand which average folks may occassionally splurge on because of some vague long-imprinted image of it as the finest single malt there is.

  5. MrTH says:

    I’d guess that, as with Mac 18, the target market is affluent people who equate “heavy-handed” sherry with luxury. If you’ll spend $100,000 for a car and $5,000 for a watch, what’s $150 for a bottle of whisky? They know whose shelves they want to be seen on, and it’s not mine. I won’t lose any sleep over it.

  6. Louis says:

    I tried both the Dalmore and GlenDronach 15’s at Whiskyfest NYC, and the latter was far better, IMHO. And my impressions were validated by the Malt Advocate ratings. 46% ABV should be mandatory for ‘luxury’ bottles. As I am really enjoying my bottle of GlenDronach 15, the Dalmore 15 & 18 don’t do very well on the value scale (which ultimately determines where my shopping $$ go)..

  7. B.J. Reed says:

    All of this plays to a lot of previous threads about price points for whisky and what the marketing arm of the distilleries assume about those price points and who their competition is.

    Dalmore used to be among the best bargains you could find (e.g. 12, Cigar Malt) and they have moved their price point much, much higher. Now compare with Glenmorangie who started down this path when the changed the price point along with the flavor profile and packaging of their “finish” whiskies, At least in our market they have backed off significantly and now many of those same bottlings are among the most reasonable around.

    Dalmore will have to recalibrate its pricing if the discussion here is any indication

  8. Quentin says:

    Yes, that price is a bit of an eye-popper. Laphroaig’s jump to the $117 price for its 18 year old (I am quoting my local stores’ prices) was significant, but not too far out of bounds. Yamazaki 18 is the same price, and even the Macallan 18 year old is about $130 if I recall correctly.

    • Neil Fusillo says:

      Interestingly, prices vary widely. For instance, Yamazaki 18 can be had here for $99. But there’s NOwhere in town selling Laphroaig 18 for less than $150.

      • mongo says:

        i’m yet to see the laph 18 selling for more than $65 in the twin cities metro area. the lowest i’ve seen for the hp 18 is the mid 80s–and about the same for the yamazaki 18. who knows, maybe we’ll get the dalmore 18 at a reasonable price too.

        • Dubs says:

          I ordered Laphroaig 18 online from Shopper’s Vineyard. They have it listed at $89.99.

  9. Seth Nadel says:

    The days of Dalmore being a “value” brand are long over. They want to change market perception. There’s nothing wrong with that. It was always an undervalued brand. While I didn’t like the price increase, I understood it. Personally, I think their whiskies are going to get better over time…but I doubt the prices will drop.

  10. MrTH says:

    Have to pay for Paterson’s suits… ; )

  11. Bill H. says:

    Even the fact that Laphroaig 18 ($140 at Astor) is at least twice as much as the 15 was means I won’t touch it. (I asked about the price point at a tasting once and got a blank stare bordering on stink eye.) I don’t understand this logic when the economy’s sputtering, unless the hits the haves have been taking leaves them still so far above subsistence that it doesn’t matter, and maybe only stokes their pride amidst so much want. That seems the formula by which Macallan has cornered the affluent-and-undiscerning market (“Macallan 18 on the rocks, please!”). Go with that if it works, Dalmore.

  12. Paul M says:

    Let me see, if I want to impress someone who knows little about Scotch would I get Macallan 18 or Dalmore 18? A rhetoric question. Now, if I’m going to serve a scotch to someone who knows scotch I would much rather go with Highland Park 18, Talisker 18 or a host of others that are far superior at a significantly lower price.

    Ultimately, it is the market that will determine if the price is too high. If their marketing department guessed wrong,as I’m guessing by this thread, then we will see the price come down.

    • B.J. Reed says:

      Highland Park 18 which is the primo single malt at that age is around $100 – that should be the benchmark in my view.

      • Mark says:

        Agreed. I was in Amherst, MA last week and saw HP 18 for $79…flying without checking bags; it stayed on the shelf.

        • MrTH says:

          That’s my neck of the woods. Hope you managed a pint at ABC, at least.

          • Mark says:

            Yes, and meals at Tabella and Judie’s. Actually, MrTH, these trips (another comes in late May) are preparatory for a move to western MA. I was also pleased to discover the whisky bar at Amherst Coffee.

          • Red_Arremer says:

            Let me know if you’re ever in or around Boston, Mark.

  13. H.Diaz says:

    Isn’t Dalmore under new management? I forget who bought the brand a few years back, an Indian company comes to mind. New and improved Dalmore, right?

    Round these parts, the newer Glenmorangie 18 was priced the same $150 and 43% abv when it was released by new owners LVMH a few years back – with the fancy perfume shaped bottles and packaging. Now it sells for half the price, $80. Sells were slow, I suspect. I bought one at this price. It’s nice, but not again.

    The same fate may happen to the Dalmore 18. If so, only then will I consider buying. Now that I think about it, the whole new line is over priced. And from what I remember all the reviews have been luke warm.

    18 y/o single malts are my sweet spot. Some of the very best are priced plus or minus $100.

    Cheers

    • H.Diaz says:

      I forgot to mention, if I look hard enough I can still find the old Dalmore 21 at $80. Usually at rinky dinky liquor stores – like the one in my local China Town district. Nice.

      John, I tried to edit my comments but it was acting a little kooky.

      Cheers

  14. two-bit cowboy says:

    John — you gave the under-new-ownership GlenDronach 18 ($136) an 84 a few months ago. Other than the obvious 3-point difference, how do these two compare at their respective prices?

    Side note: the new Dalmore 12 is still around $45 here, about the same as the old 12, and this one’s better.

    • Red_Arremer says:

      That’s cool you think the new one’s better, two-bit. I see mongo down there saying it’s worse. How would you describe the improvement?

      • two-bit cowboy says:

        Seems more refined, Red. Mongo calls it “heavy.” If that equates to more full bodied in his book, that’s one of the things I like. Oily, thick. The flavor benefits from the 50-50 combination of bourbon-sherry. I’m not a big fan of sherry, but the extra influence here appeals to me. Too, this is not an anytime dram. Requires just the right timing to fully enjoy the sweet, thick fruits in this one.

        • mongo says:

          i didn’t mean full-bodied but more heavily flavoured–the sherry in particular. but keep in mind i am comparing to the taste memory of more than 3 years ago.

          i would agree that the earlier one was an anytime drink and this one isn’t. but if i want to sit down and contemplate my whisky i don’t know if this is the one i reach for in my bar.

  15. mongo says:

    the new dalmore 12 is in the mid-high $30s in the twin cities area. still a good value but i think i preferred the old dalmore 12, which wasn’t quite as heavy. i am interested in the 18 year old but i too will pass until it drops below $100. there’re too many other malts in the $100-150 range that are more interesting to me if i want to spend that much–independent bottlings etc..

  16. Neil Fusillo says:

    I love the new Dalmore range. The 12, Gran Riserva, and 15 are lovely malts (with the Gran Riserva being my favourite of that set, just above the 12). But they’re bordering on 1/3 the price of the 18. I would think the 18 would have to be at LEAST 3 times as good… and I’m guessing it’s not.

  17. Richard says:

    Like everyone else I gasped at the price. After tasting it at a recent Atlanta event I thought it definitely wasn’t a value proposition for me. Pricing north of the Mac 18 is a bold move that I think they will regret but only time will tell.

    Commenting on the notes about price drops previously mentioned, in Atlanta the bottle turnover in upper-mid to higher end malts is very low so we don’t see a lot of price movement. The liquor store buys a case of Glenmo 18 and list it at $150 because that’s relative to what they paid and the price stays there until they sell all six and reorder. On the blend to 15 year malt range prices move regularly but I can usually find 18+ year old malts cheaper whenever I travel anywhere except NYC or SF.

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