The oldest Special Releases 2020 were the Pittyvaich and this Dalwhinnie 30 Year Old, a 1989 vintage drawn from refill hogsheads, mostly ex-bourbon casks but also ex-sherry. Some of the last remaining drops from this vintage, according to Diageo.
The style of this distillate is slightly peculiar. In 1986 Dalwhinnie switched from worm tubs to shell and tube condensers which create a lighter style. They weren’t entirely happy with the result so they switch back to traditional condensers in 1995 (only to notice the character wasn’t the same as before either).
Dalwhinnie 30 yo 1989 (51,9%, OB Special Releases 2020, refill hogsheads, 6978 btl.)
Nose: elegant, starting on ripe plums, gooseberries and yellow apples with sweet herbs and floral notes in the high end. This blends nicely with oak polish, cigar boxes and beeswax. Dusty library and very subtle oily and leafy notes in the background.
Mouth: the onset is rather hot. The second wave is sweet (peach, honey) and spicy (ginger and black pepper). Some creamy custard and butterscotch. Liquorice roots and some earthy, green herbs. Plenty of grapefruit peel as well, leaving a slightly tense and bitter impression towards the end.
Finish: medium length, rather sharp, on zesty lemons, menthol and a very faint smoky touch.
This is quite an energetic, complex Dalwhinnie. There’s some oak polish and old-style fruits on the nose that I really like, but it’s remarkably green and earthy on the palate, so somehow it doesn’t win me over entirely. The Pittyvaich is cheaper and better in my opinion. Available from Master of Malt and The Whisky Exchange among others.