Dailuaine, 28yo 1975 First Cask
(Distilled 26/5/75, cask #5526, 46%)
The Special Releases 2015 34yo Dailuaine is one of those whiskies that occasionally spurs me into a wistful haze of reminiscence. Buying a whole bottle was well outside my budget, but I’ve been keeping an eye out for similarly-aged bottlings at auction for less eye-watering prices.
And, voila! A 1975 vintage that was cheap as chips. First Cask were – I gather – some sort of whisky club, now defunct, and seemingly sourcing their whiskies from Signatory. They’re often affordable at auction, but there’s little information out there about them, so you do have to buy blind.
Let’s see if this hopeful leap into the unknown has paid off!
Nose: We’re starting off well with that cascade of honey I remember from the Special Release. Grand! There’s beeswax too, and just a touch of furniture wax – complete with a bit of elegant sandalwood or cedar. There’s a hint of sweet strawberry marshmallow, but the main impression that I find is of a slightly sour (not displeasingly so) and very “yellow” fruitiness: think slightly under-ripe mango, peach and orange. Peach iced tea too, and a few oddly beery notes.
Taste: Oranges! Loads of ’em! Tinned mandarin segments too, with some melon balls … it is a mid-1970s whisky after all! Then it gets darker and spicier, with quite a lot of gingerbread shot through with clove and cinnamon. Some liquorice wood comes in, and then it just eases off in a slightly tart direction with some menthol and lime…
Finish: …before a return to honey and sweetness in the finish. Fanta, too, complete with a fizzy touch on the tip of the tongue. Ends on notes of baklava and lebkuchen, with just a touch of lime cordial.
Right, what’s interesting here is how close this 1975 Dailuaine is to the 1980 Special Release – my tasting notes are hitting the exact same references. However, there’s a slight – slight! – feeling that it’s playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. (Apologies to Andre Previn and Eric Morecambe!) That is to say this is like a less balanced and elegant version, and maybe shows the difference between a single cask bottling and a release composed of multiple casks designed to smooth over any rough edges. And, come to think of it, 6 additional years of maturation.
But, still, this is a superb whisky, and – since I was coming to it with a decidedly non-open mind! – an unfair review. Getting 90% of the way to one of the best whiskies I’ve tasted in recent years for 10% of the cost has to be a success in anyone’s book.