Dalwhinnie’s water supply comes from the highest mountain source of any malt, Lochan an Doire Uaine, located at a height of 2000 feet in the Drumochter Hills. You won’t find another distillery using spring water of this purity; Dalwhinnie has exclusive access to Lochan Doire Uaine. The distillery is extremely close to the geographic centre of the Scottish Highlands and therefore finds easy access to the Highland Railway.
Founded in 1897 by John Grant, Alexander Mackenzie and George Sellar and originally named Strathspey, the Dalwhinnie distillery takes its namesake from the Gaelic word Dail-Chuinnidh, which translates to ‘plain of meetings’. The distillery overcame rocky beginnings, boasting five different owners before settling in with James Buchanan & Co in 1926.
Dalwhinnie continues to use traditional wood for its washbacks and only two copper stills send the alcohol through the lye pipes on its way to the stillman. Dalwhinnie’s rare worm-tubs, for the whisky’s consciously slow condensation, have become a landmark outside the distillery. As have its classic pagoda roofs.
As whisky connoisseur Michael Jackson once said of Dalwhinnie, “the Highland peatiness is very restrained at first, balanced by heathery sweetness, but intensifies toward the finish. Clear flavours against a very clean background. A good aperitif”.
Dalwhinnie 15 is gold in colour with a big, crisp nose that is dry and aromatic with hints of heather and peat. With a light to medium body the palate is mellow and soft with long lasting flavours of heather, honey sweetness and vanilla, followed by deeper citrus flavours and hints of malted bread. The finish is long, lingering and surprisingly intense; stays sweetly and then gives way to smoke, peat and malt.
A distillery of many talents, Dalwhinnie is also an official weather station, holding claim to one of the lowest recorded average temperatures in the entire of Great Britain. If you wish to book a tour of the distillery and learn about the rich history, make sure you check the weather ahead of booking. And bring your winter woolies.