This is the oldest of the few Dailuaines I’ve had (only a few more than I’ve reviewed), being two years older than the Archives bottling I took quick notes on two and a half years ago (which was distilled a year before this one and also aged in a bourbon cask). The SMWS gives all their malts whimsical names and they dubbed this 30 yo, “Bitter-Sweet with a Dash of Fun”. Well, that’s also how I describe myself so this should be a perfect match. Will it also be one of those SMWS bottlings that makes me think I should become a member or will it be one of all too many that leave me unconvinced?
(As with the other SMWSA bottles I’ve reviewed in recent months, this came from a bottle split with a number of other whisky geeks. I’ve been doing a lot of bottle splits in the last year or so and I really recommend them as a way to taste a lot with minimized risk while also keeping the size of your collection in control.)
Dailuaine 30, 1984 (53.7%; SMWSA 41.67; bourbon hogshead; from a bottle-split)
Nose: Juicy (apples, pears) and floral with oak and oak spice rising up along the sides. After a few beats there’s some vanilla and some cream as well and then some citrus (lime peel) which expands with time and gets muskier and a bit peppery. With more time the peppery citrus and the oak are in nice balance. With water there’s more of the cream at first and then the muskier fruit gets a little more pronounced (lemon curd)
Palate: Starts out with the sweeter notes as on the nose but then the lime and oak take center stage again. Lovely, silky mouthfeel. The lime gets even more intense and more zesty on the second sip and there are hints of muskier flavours behind it. Let’s see if time and then water pull more of that out. Well, time doesn’t (though it does make the oak a little too insistent); let’s see if water will. Nope, not with water either but the citrus gets brighter and the whole gets a bit sweeter and the wood backs off.
Finish: Long. The lime and oak fade out together, with increasingly bitter lime peel the last to go; no new development at first. As on the palate with water but the musky fruit notes from earlier on the palate now show up late and expand some (hints of peach).
Comments: A balanced, highly drinkable whisky. I would have liked more of those teasing musky fruit notes (maybe with a different proportion of water I could have teased more out)—but it’s very pleasurable indeed as it is. Very different from the Archives Dailuaine, if my notes from two and half years ago on not very much whisky can be trusted.
Rating: 87 points.
Thanks again to Andrew for putting this together.