Christmas is approaching and we feel the urge to treat ourselves to a pampering, given that times are what they are and a bit of depression is creeping into the souls of even the most hardened and indefatigable drinkers – a category we pride ourselves on belonging to, come and tell us to our faces if you think otherwise. So the cuddle of the day is one of Diageo’s 2020 Special Releases, and it’s one of the ‘biggies’ in that series: Dalwhinnie 30 years old, vintage 1989, matured exclusively in refill hogsheads. The 2019 release was one of our favourites, so let’s see if this one can hold its own.
N: the nose greets us invitingly, with that delicious patina of ‘old’ that characterises certain Highland malts – a patina made up of wax, first and foremost, beeswax, old furniture, the now infamous grandmother’s drawer, old paper. Underneath, a very intense and composite fruit component calmly stirs, made up of dried apricots, peaches, freshly baked apple pie. Pastry notes (it may be the time of year but panettone comes to mind), with puff pastry dumplings with cream and apple. An almost slightly smoky vein appears from time to time. In the long run, an intense, deep citrus fruit grows, which is in the world of processed orange (not exactly jam, but almost); a hint of orange blossom, too, testifying to a floral dimension. Excellent.
P: excellent, starts again from where we left off with the nose. The view is the same, very brown, or burnished orange, let’s say autumnal, and we get the picture. Orange liqueur, lots of malt, barley biscuits – muesli with dried orange, we don’t know if it exists but if it did it would taste like this. More cream and apple bundle, more freshly baked cakes – but above all, more wax, here really beeswax, with honey comb and a general sense of bitter honey (chestnut?). The bitterness, reminiscent of burnt marmalade, wood and honey, grows with time, enhanced by notes that are here fully peat and mineral (very little smoke, just hinted at, lots of minerality).
F: long, very clean, all laid out on a carpet of wax and minerality, in turn lying on a vast meadow of cooked fruit. Enchanting.
Very autumnal and pleasant, it confirms the quality of Dalwhinnie malt already displayed last year, and if possible enhances it even more, turning it to more austere and intellectual tones, if we want (we want? yes of course, it’s our blog!). A whisky like this is excellent as it is, but we bet that twenty years in glass would make it even more spectacular. Too bad we can’t afford this bottle now, let alone in twenty years’ time…. In doubt, we thank Danilo for the sample and enjoy the last drops left in the glass while, with a smile on our faces, we affix our 91/100 rating card.
Recommended soundtrack: Pink Floyd – Pigs (Three different Ones).