Early in my whisky drinking years, when many of the distillery names were mysterious and even the familiar ones presented pronunciation challenges, I remember the first time I heard about Dalwhinnie. I thought it had to do with a Bollywood reboot of The Wonder Years that included the friend and love interest of DalKevin. How glad I am to be wrong about this! For on the nose is custard and hamster wheel grease. By this I mean to refer to a beautiful orange mousse that sits atop a cresting sea wave in fluffy iridescence. Suddenly I’m transported to mystical sylvan wood with air so clean and crisp my lungs wonder whether I am breathing. And for a moment, I notice that I am not. Such is the breathtaking quality of the baby powder and cream on the nose. The same feeling you might get if your life partner, on an important anniversary, has hand cut starfruit snowflakes to gently drop down as you walk into the bedroom.
As you can see, we like the nose a lot. The mouth, however, sends my reverie into an unexpected historical dimension. I’m on a team being asked to taste the pharaoh’s embalming fluid. It has to be the right formula if it’s to simultaneously preserve his body in this world and send his essence safely to the next, and the team is gathered around me to wait expectantly. I’ve swallowed and then I nod. They are relieved. And so am I, for there is perfect utilization of the wood. Harmony abounds. I’m tickling the ivories (and a few of the ebonies) with my right hand, as if in imitation of a rain stick filled with tiny mung beans. Tickle tingle soldier spry. Yes, that is the name for this second movement, one that is pianissimo all the way.
The finish pulls out the sweet notes of the mouth like a kid sucking up all the vanilla éclair-filling at the dessert bar. He drops the desiccated cake husks to the ground like baobab leaves after a simoom. What is amazing about the whole experience is that the profile is that of a much younger whisky. It’s as if the musculature has been peeled away, leaving only the valued appurtenances of age—namely wisdom and mansuetude. How this managed to keep woodiness at bay is something I’d like to take up with the cooper who, for all we know, may no longer be alive. But the gift left behind is one that I will return to, happily, again and again.
On the scale of Egyptian beliefs concerning death–
The Dalwhinnie 30 Year Old 2019 Special Release is the fact that the protection of the corpse was important because it played a vital role in the soul’s success in the afterlife–Specifically, the soul had to be reimbodied before it could receive final judgment. I think the Dalwhinnie 30 has earned its most favorable judgment and then some.
–Our thanks to Diageo for the sample!