Dalmore 12 vs Macallan 12

Dalmore 12 vs Macallan 12 | The Showdown, which is best?

As a whisky obsessive, I’ve been looking forward to this challenge for some time now – tasting and comparing two of Scotland’s best whiskies: Dalmore 12 vs Macallan 12 Sherry Oak. Both are highly praised single malt scotch whiskies that have made waves in the whisky world with their distinct flavour profiles.

I chose to compare the Sherry Oak Macallan against the Dalmore as they are both famous for their use of Sherry Casks, Olorosso to be precise.

Over 100 years ago, The Dalmore established a strong and trusted partnership with sherry house González Byass, which has greatly influenced The Dalmore’s distinctive style. The casks that were once used to hold 30-year-old Matusalem Oloroso sherry are exclusive to The Dalmore. The whisky gains rich and nutty flavours from these casks, in addition to its signature chocolate and orange character.

Macallan take their casks so seriously that they employ their own “Master of Wood“. Stuart Macpherson is responsible for sourcing every tree, every stave, every barrel for The Macallan. As far as we’re aware Macallan are the only distillery to take cask selection to this degree. Normally it is the job of the Master distiller or Master blender to make the choice on casks.

The Macallan Sherry Oak is made by ageing the new make spirit in oak casks from Jerez, Spain that have previously been used to mature Oloroso sherry. Macallan only age in this single cask, whereas the Dalmore is aged in an Ex-Bourbon cask initially. This process results in a rich, fruity, and full-bodied single malt. This whisky is made by filling casks with spirit and allowing it to mature undisturbed for 12 years. The resulting product is a rich and complex whisky with notes of spice and dried fruit, as well as a natural golden colour.

But which is better? In this article, I will taste test both bottles side by side, exploring the nose, palate and finish of each one before giving my verdict on which one reigns supreme. So pour yourself a dram and join me as we explore two of Scotland’s finest offerings!

Dalmore 12 vs Macallan 12: A quick look comparison

Dalmore 12

Dalmore 12

Nose: Smells like a warm coffee house; roasting beans, fine espresso, there are little notes of malt, cereal and pastry with rich orange.

Palate: The flavour notes include Seville marmalade and triple sec, along with winter spices and fruitcake. There is also a hint of zesty cocoa and milk chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and thick

Finish: Medium-length finish, leaving you with notes of oranges.

Age: 12 years

Cask/Barrels: American white oak ex-bourbon casks and finessed in rare and aged Olorosso sherry casks.

Strength: 40% ABV / 80 proof

Price: £56 / $70

Macallan 12 Sherry Oak

Macallan 12 Sherry Oak

Nose: The taste is both crispy and sweet with hints of sultanas and fresh apple blossom. You can distinctly taste the floral notes, followed by hints of Sherry. Afterwards, the Calvados flavour emerges with a hint of tropical fruit and golden syrup.

Palate: The drink has a medium body and is quite firm. It has notes of hot pastries, marmalade, sultanas, and peels. As you drink, the sweetness from the barley sugar develops.

Mouthfeel: Smooth

Finish: Good length and a distinct oaky taste.

Age: 12 years

Cask/Barrels: Exclusively aged in Oloroso sherry casks.

Strength: 40% ABV / 80 proof

Price: £75 / $94

Dalmore 12 vs Macallan 12: Dalmore Review

A pioneer in the art of cask curation, Master Distiller Richard Paterson has been the creative force behind The Dalmore for nearly five decades. With his vision and expertise, he has taken the whisky to new heights with his signature approach of careful selection and maturation of casks.

The finish results in a velvety smooth texture and the perfect balance between woodiness and sweetness.

This attention to detail comes into play when discussing the Dalmore 12 year old whisky, which is aged for an exact 12 years in a variety of carefully selected casks. The process of maturation allows the whisky to slowly develop its complex flavour profile, which consists of rich notes of spice, dried fruit, orange, cocoa and milk chocolate.

Once ageing has been completed, all components come together, aiming to achieve a perfect balance between woodiness and sweetness. This produces a velvety smooth texture that lingers for a medium-length finish. Such precision requires skill and expertise, making Dalmore 12 one of Scotland’s finest offerings.

Dalmore 12 has a remarkable flavour profile that results from its maturation process. The whisky is aged for an exact twelve years in several ex-bourbon barrels, sherry butts and Matusalem Oloroso sherry casks. This allows the whisky to slowly develop a unique set of flavours that include Seville marmalade, triple sec, winter spices, fruitcake, zesty cocoa and milk chocolate.

The subtle notes of zesty cocoa and milk chocolate pair well with the whiskey’s other complex flavours, like its hints of orange peel and dried fruits. Its winter spice notes add an underlying warmth to the flavour profile which enhances the overall richness and complexity of the beverage.

The whisky is also renowned for its velvety-smooth mouthfeel which comes as a result of Master Distiller Richard Paterson’s careful process. He aims to achieve balance between woodiness and sweetness through his selection of casks and maturing techniques – creating an incredibly smooth texture that lingers on the palate for a medium-length finish.

Overall, Dalmore 12 year old whisky is a remarkable single malt scotch with a complex yet balanced flavour profile – something that owes itself to Master Distiller Richard Paterson’s wealth of experience, knowledge and skill in curating Scotch whiskies.

Dalmore 12 vs Macallan 12: Macallan 12 Sherry Oak

I chose to compare the Macallan Sherry Oak against the Dalmore 12 as they both share a love of Oloroso between them.

Macallan 12 Sherry Oak has been fully matured in sherry casks, giving it a distinct and complex flavour profile. The result is an incredibly rich and smooth whisky that is sure to appeal to the connoisseur’s palate.

On the nose, you will find the signature Macallan aroma of dried fruits, subtly sweetened with floral notes. This is followed by a full-bodied taste, where thicker notes like marmalade and sultanas are contrasted with lighter tones such as tropical fruit and golden syrup. The finish includes a remarkable oaky taste that lingers on the palate.

The whisky’s unique taste comes from its maturation process in exclusively aged Oloroso sherry casks. Oloroso is a type of fortified wine which contributes its own set of flavours – including buttered nuts, ripe plums and baking spices – to the whisky. This ensures that each sip will be full-bodied and flavoured in equal measure.

The Macallan 12 Sherry Oak has a smooth mouthfeel that leaves no doubt as to the quality of blend.

This full-bodied experience is enhanced by its unique maturation in exclusively aged Oloroso sherry casks. The oaky flavour is more pronounced in the finish and lingers on the palate for a good length of time. The whisky’s intense oakiness is complemented by subtle hints of buttered nuts and baking spices that add further complexity to its flavour profile.

All these nuances combine to form a delightful and complex experience that subtly evolves over time – making Macallan 12 Sherry Oak a great choice for whiskey aficionados looking for something special.

Dalmore 12 vs Macallan 12: The comparison

Dalmore 12 vs Macallan 12 The Comparison

Both whiskies are aged for 12 years but each took a different approach to this. Macallan are extremely meticulous when it comes to cask selection and have matured it exclusively in a single Sherry Cask for the entirety of its 12 years.

Comparatively, Dalmore 12 year old whisky is also aged for twelve years – however, its maturation process differs slightly from Macallan’s exclusively Oloroso approach. The whisky is aged for an exact twelve years in several ex-bourbon barrels, sherry butts and Matusalem Oloroso sherry casks. This allows the whisky to develop complexity through its combination of flavours, ranging from zesty cocoa and milk chocolate all the way to Seville marmalade, triple sec and winter spices.

Ultimately, both whiskies share a love for Oloroso between them; however, their respective ageing processes yield completely different results when tasted side by side. Dalmore 12 offers up a range of intense dried fruit notes complimented by subtle hints of winter spice – while Macallan Sherry Oak creates a fuller-bodied experience with thicker tastes such as marmalade mixed with sweeter tones like tropical fruit or golden syrup. It ultimately falls to your preference to choose which one suits them best.

The Dalmore 12 is complex through its combination of flavours, such as zesty cocoa and milk chocolate, Seville marmalade, triple sec and winter spices.

In contrast, Macallan 12 Sherry Oak has a full-bodied taste with thicker notes such as marmalade and sultanas balanced out by lighter tones like tropical fruit and golden syrup. Oloroso contributes its own set of flavours to the whisky – including buttered nuts, ripe plums and baking spices – to make each sip even more flavourful.

When it comes to comparing the two whiskies side by side, it ultimately falls down to personal preference as both offer unique flavour profiles that can appeal to different palates. The Dalmore 12 offers intense dried fruit notes complemented by subtle hints of winter spice; whereas Macallan Sherry Oak has an incredibly rich smoothness that lingers on the palate due to its maturation in exclusively aged Oloroso sherry casks.

Dalmore 12 vs Macallan 12: Food Pairing

When recommending and reviewing whisky I like to include food pairings as I feel it puts the flavour profiles into context. Food pairing can enhance the experience of both the flavour of the whisky and the food.

Dalmore 12 food pairing

The robust notes of dried fruits, cocoa and winter spices in the Dalmore 12 blend nicely with the deep, gamey flavour of venison. The zesty acidity of the whisky helps cut through the richness of the meat, creating a pleasant balance in taste. Additionally, its subtle sweetness enhances the sweetness of the venison’s sauce without overpowering it.

Venison Loin
Venison Loin

The high alcohol content and bold flavour of Dalmore 12 also pairs well with other types of game meats such as duck, wild boar or even pigeon. The whisky’s rich texture and creamy finish creates a velvety texture on the palate that complements these meats perfectly.

Duck with Potato Dauphinoise
Duck with Potato Dauphinoise

If looking to pair something with Dalmore 12 that is more suited to vegetarian palates, then mushrooms are an excellent choice as they absorb its sweet flavours while still keeping their earthiness intact.

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

In general, foods that bring out similar notes found in the whisky will pair well – think rich red sauces with beef or lamb; creamy white sauces with poultry or seafood; and earthy vegetables like root vegetables or mushrooms.

A chocolate orange torte is the perfect pairing for Dalmore 12. The whisky’s intense flavours of Seville oranges, milk chocolate and winter spices will be supercharged by the torte’s creamy texture and sweet taste. As both the whisky and dessert contain notes of orange, this creates an incredible flavour combination that brings out the best in both.

Chocolate Orange Torte
Chocolate Orange Torte

The subtle sweetness of Dalmore 12 is also ideal for balancing out the richness of a chocolate orange torte. This ensures that neither flavour dominates the taste buds – allowing the delicate citrus notes to shine through while adding an extra layer of complexity to each bite.

To further enhance the pairing, consider garnishing your torte with a few slices of fresh mandarins or oranges as this will help to cut through any possible heaviness from all that sugar and cream. It will also draw out more of those zesty orange notes from Dalmore 12, creating a truly memorable experience for your palate.

Macallan 12 Sherry Oak: Food Pairing

The Macallan 12 Sherry Oak has a full-bodied flavour profile with notes of marmalade, sultanas, tropical fruit and golden syrup. This whisky pairs perfectly with rich dishes that have an earthy sweetness to them. An excellent way to enjoy this Scotch is by pairing it with paté made from duck or chicken liver. The richness of the paté will be complemented by the fruity and nutty notes found in the whisky; while its sweetness brings out the sweeter tones present in the alcohol.

Chicken liver pate
Chicken liver pate

Pate can also be served with other accompaniments like toasted brioche and pickled vegetables — these provide a crunchy contrast to the creamy texture of the paté and create an even more enjoyable experience.

Steak Tartare
Steak Tartare

Another dish that goes well with Macallan 12 Sherry Oak is steak tartare. The bold flavour of this whisky highlights the savouriness of this dish while still allowing its beefy taste to shine through. The whisky’s smooth finish helps cut through any potential fattiness from the beef, making each bite much more palatable and enjoyable. A sprinkle of crispy shallots on top is all that’s needed to bring out even more flavour from both components — a perfect way to enjoy this classic Scotch.

Chocolate Mousse with Strawberry
Chocolate Mousse with Strawberry

For dessert, Macallan 12 Sherry Oak pairs beautifully with dark chocolate mousse topped off with freshly whipped cream or strawberry compote. The mellow sweetness found in this whisky creates a harmonious relationship between it and chocolate mousse as both components are able to balance each other out without one overpowering the other’s flavour profile. Additionally, Macallan 12’s velvety texture ensures that each mouthful is incredibly luxurious, adding a pleasant creaminess to every bite – making it hard not to reach for more!

Dalmore 12 vs Macallan 12: Cocktails

If you’re looking for a nice way to spice up your evening why not try out some of these cocktail recipes and shine a new light on those favourite whiskies?

Dalmore 12 Cocktails

Dalmore 12’s orangey notes will go beautifully in this “Boozy dark delight” made with stout, whisky and orange liqueur, it’s smooth and rich – ideal for those cold winter nights.

Boozy dark delight cocktail
Boozy dark delight cocktail

The “Boozy Dark Delight” is the perfect way to enjoy Dalmore 12 whisky and its intense flavours of oranges, milk chocolate and winter spices. The combination of stout, whisky and orange liqueur creates a smooth and rich drink that is ideal for winding down during colder evenings. The sweetness of the whisky helps to balance out the bitterness of the stout while adding a citrusy twist with its unmistakable orange notes.

small handful of ice cubes (optional)

25ml orange liqueur

25ml whisky

200ml stout

chocolate orange shavings, to garnish (optional)

Drop a few ice cubes, if using, into a short glass and pour over the orange liqueur and whisky.

Top up the drink with the stout, then garnish with the chocolate orange shavings, if you like.

Macallan 12 Cocktails

A sherry old-fashioned is the perfect cocktail to highlight and exemplify the sherry cask ageing in this whisky. Taking the traditional Old fashioned cocktail recipe and adding a twist of sherry into the mix takes it to the next level.

Sherry Old Fashioned Cocktail

60ml of Macallan 12 year old Sherry Oak

7.5ml Pedro Ximénez sherry

7.5ml dark muscovado sugar syrup

2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Stir all the ingredients over ice and serve

Dalmore 12 vs Macallan 12: Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the choice of which whisky is better depends on personal preference.

Dalmore 12 offers a complex combination of fruity and nutty notes with a sweet finish, making it an ideal companion to richer dishes like paté and steak tartare. Its orangey flavour is also perfect for creating boozy dark cocktails — thanks to its smooth texture, these drinks are incredibly luxurious.

Meanwhile, Macallan 12 Sherry Oak brings out an array of subtle flavours that include winter spices and milk chocolate. The whisky’s slight sweetness helps balance out any potential bitterness from dark foods, while its velvety texture creates a pleasant creaminess in each sip. It also pairs well with desserts such as dark chocolate mousse or strawberry compote. In terms of cocktails, a sherry old-fashioned can truly showcase Macallan 12 Sherry Oak’s unique character — the sherry adds a delightful twist to the classic recipe.

Whether you choose Dalmore 12 or Macallan 12 ultimately comes down to personal preference. Both whiskies offer unique complexities and flavours, so depending on your culinary tastes and occasions either one could be considered “better”.

Authors pick

When debating Dalmore 12 vs Macallan 12, my pick has to be the Macallan 12 Sherry Oak. The unique combination of flavours created by the whisky’s sherry cask ageing is truly unparalleled. From the winter spices and milk chocolate to the velvety texture it provides, each sip of this whisky is an absolute treat for the senses.

Not only that, its slight sweetness helps to balance any potential bitterness from dark foods, making it an ideal pairing for desserts such as dark chocolate mousse or strawberry compote. It’s also incredibly versatile when it comes to cocktails – a sherry old-fashioned can truly bring out its unique character with a delightful twist on the classic recipe.

All in all, Macallan 12 Sherry Oak is a whisky that stands apart from its counterparts — its complex flavour profile and sublime aroma make it a true delight for any connoisseur. Its ability to pair perfectly with both sweet and savoury dishes proves why this whisky deserves recognition as one of the very best in Scotland!

If you are keen to read a bit more about Macallan I have a few other comparisons: Glenmorangie vs Macallan or if you are keen to weigh up a Macallan 12 vs 15 have a read here.

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