Dailuaine 29 (The Whisky Exchange)


No, I don’t know what’s going on in the background of this photograph either.

Here’s another whisky from a relatively obscure and unloved distillery: Dailuaine. It is located in the Speyside and is owned by (who else?) Diageo. It is one of Diageo’s workhorse distilleries, producing almost entirely for blends. As far as I know, it has only seen regular official single malt release in the Flora & Fauna series. There have been a few one-offs: for example, a Manager’s Dram release, a Rare Malts release, and then in 2015, out of the blue, a 34 yo version was included in Diageo’s Special Release slate. There haven’t been so very many indie releases either. The redoubtable Serge V. has only reviewed 52 Dailuaines. (I say “only” because he probably reviewed 52 rums this past weekend alone—I haven’t checked.) 

The bottle this particular sample came from was part of a series released by the Whisky Exchange for their 2013 Whisky Show. It carried an age statement but no vintage statement. The label was in a very attractive, throwback style. Was the whisky inside as good? Let’s see.

Dailuaine 29 “Old Speyside” (53.2%; The Whisky Exchange; from a sample received in a swap)

Nose: Dried fruit (orange peel, apricot), wood glue and rich malt. Not much change with time. A little richer with water maybe but nothing new per se.

Palate: Citrus (lemon mostly) and some wax plus a bit of oaky zing. Nice, full mouthfeel. On the second sip there are flickers of tropical fruit (pineapple) but they never quite get going. More citrus with every sip but the tropical fruit remain at the level of tantalizing hints. Not much happens here with water either.

Finish: Medium. Unfortunately, the fruit doesn’t expand here—it’s mostly the oak now but it’s not offensive in the slightest. The fruit hangs around longer with water and the finish gets quite a bit longer.

Comments: This is an elegant, well-balanced whisky that blends malt, fruit and oak well. I would have liked more of the fruit (and more tropical fruit) but this is fine as it is.

Rating: 87 points.

Thanks to Gimmeadram for the sample!

4 thoughts on “Dailuaine 29 (The Whisky Exchange)

  1. Two Septembers in a row we stayed in a cottage in Carron near Aberlour. To get to Carron from the main A road through Speyside you go past Dailuaine. One wonders how they managed to cram such a massive site into such a secluded spot, right above the river in a tiny glen. Romantically situated, then, and I also find a hint of romance in a distillery that doesn’t get much time in the limelight due to its commitments to the bigger picture.
    When I do try Dailuaine I’m always impressed and the 34YO was one of the few samples from the Special Releases I have ever bothered to track down. I don’t wish to gush, but it was mightily good: old fruits, myriad honeys and a dense, treacly earthiness. Dailuaine deserves some love.

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  2. As it happens, we are likely headed back to Scotland this June for 10 days or so. Half of that time will be in Edinburgh (where we have a conference to attend) but after that we’re headed up to the Speyside for a few days (and probably up to Dornoch for a couple more). We’ll be staying close to Aberlour and my distillery visit plans are: Strathisla, Aberlour, Glenfarclas and Balvenie/Glenfiddich. Advice on whether any of these should be dropped in favour of any others in the near vicinity will be much appreciated. I’m guessing Dailuaine does not merit a tour but it sounds like we should drive by it.

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    • As it happens I visited all 4. My information is from 2010 so it may be slightly outdated.
      – Strathisla is interesting for the site – old gray stone, nicely located. It’s made into a shrine to Chivas Regal, so that part is not so interesting. At the time they had many bottles of the Cask Strength Edition from various Pernod Ricard distilleries, but I didn’t know well enough to buy any back then. They did have a handsome throwback sitting room, à la Lagavulin. Recommended.
      – Glenfiddich, well, you just have to go. Everybody does. It’s impressively tastefully and thoughtfully done, given the size of the place and of the crowd. I did not visit Balvenie and/or Kininvie, but you should, of course. You already know about the Glenfiddich Café.
      – Aberlour is great! Another handsome Victorian one. Friendly people, you can (could?) fill your own bottle. Right by the river, you can throw rocks in the Spey while tasting their whisky. We were shocked to discover that all the tartan-boxed shortbread cookies that you see literally everywhere in Britain – I’m talking about Walker’s, of course – originate in the same village. We subsequently became addicted to them. Laugh all you want now, but we’ll see.
      – Glenfarclas is skippable, in my opinion. I had just missed the tour and I spent some time in their tasting room that was kind of sad and deserted (something to do with a ship though). The guy manning the shop was himself out of Dickens, some distant old relative of George Grant, probably, but not nearly as good looking. The whisky I tasted was not impressive either. Your mileage may vary.
      – I’d recommend Glen Grant, another mighty fine site, the poster child for Campari. Their gardens are an attraction in themselves, and could provide some relief for the family.
      – Looking at the other distilleries open for public (I had not realized they are so few!), if it were me I’d look into Benromach and/or Benriach, and perhaps slightly more distant distilleries, like Glen Garioch & Glendronach.
      – I see that Ballindalloch Distillery is offering tours as well. This might be fun since it’s on the site of (and related to) a bona-fide Scottish castle, that can also be visited. We saw the castle from the car and were impressed.

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      • Not for the first time, I concur with Florin. It is still possible to bottle your own Aberlours and there will always be a Sherry and a Bourbon cask to choose between. As he mentions, the Cask Strength Collection Malt’s are exclusive to Chivas Brothers’ visitor centres and you can usually find one expression from all of their operating distilleries. Perhaps more than one as previous years’ bottlings are still available on occasion.
        As for the others, Glenfiddich is a very slick and professional site with a very good (and I think, still free) tour. The Cafe is excellent although maybe not Old Kiln Cafe excellent. Glenfarclas is best avoided in favour of Ballindalloch (you do have to book ahead with Brian Robinson – check the website).
        Benromach offers fantastic tours and if you’re heading up to Dornoch you can stop in on the way. The Laich of Moray area where Benromach is to be found is stunningly beautiful – check out Findhorn Bay while you’re there. I don’t believe you need to visit any more production sites than those but call in at the Whisky Shop Dufftown for a potential Speyside purchase, and the Highlander and Craigellachie Hotels for innumerable arcane whiskies.

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