Tuesday 7 May 2019

Tasted #456: The Dalmore L'Anima 49yo (1 of 1 bottling)

When it comes to whisky (as with other things in life, I suppose) the words "rare" and "limited" get bandied about fairly often...and fair enough too. With no formal, legal or singularly accepted definition, "rarity" differs from person to person. Is an 18,000 bottle outturn of a new "limited edition" considered "rare"? For some - yes, for others - no. What about single cask bottlings? What about a fairly accessible whisky (say, Laphroaig 10yo or Macallan Sherry Oak 12yo) but from the 1980s?

What's your threshold for "rarity"?

One thing we can probably all agree on is that if a bottle is released as a single bottle - i.e. a "1 of 1", it rightly deserves the title of "rare".

Enter The Dalmore L'Anima Aged 49 Years - borne out of an encounter between The Dalmore's Master Distiller Richard Paterson, and Chef Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana (currently the "World's 50 Best" #1 restaurant). The single bottle produced is available only via Sotheby's Auction, with bidding currently at £65,000 and due to end 9th May at 10pm HKT and sold for £108,900. All proceeds from the sale will be donated to Bottura's charitable foundation "Food for Soul", which aims to reduce both food wastage and poverty.

The whisky, made from a marriage of 3 cask types (1st Fill ex-Bourbon barrels, 40yo PX casks from Gonzalez Byass and Vintage Port pipes from Graham's) was designed not so much to pair with food, but to reflect the shared passion, or soul ("L'Anima" in Italian) of both Paterson and Bottura. 

(That said, there were definitely a few characteristics on the nose and palate a few of us picked up which you could equate with Italian cooking...)

A very small gathering of whisky lovers and media was fortunate enough to taste the liquid tonight - obviously not from the bottle being auctioned, but from a sample bottle (decanted into The Dalmore decanter seen above). It's fair to say my usual "booze free Monday" tradition was promptly abandoned this week...

With a healthy pour of the 41.5% dram poured (and a second serve, should we wish) I wasted no time diving in nose-first (which is how I spent the next 15 minutes, before taking a sip - such was the complexity and changing nature of the nose).

The Dalmore L'Anima Aged 49 Years (41.5% ABV, 49yo, Highlands, One of 1 bottle, Auction)
Colour: Deep orange-brown copper.

Nose: Very expressive, right from the outset. Whole oranges, creme brûlée, dark chocolate. But also milk chocolate, mint, charred oak. After some time raspberry notes emerge, along with hints of some of the characteristics of my favourite Italian Amari - artichoke, rhubarb, cardamom and menthol.

Palate: The first thing that hits you is the creaminess. Now I'm not going to say it's a "parmigiano reggiano" creaminess, but it's definitely not the sweet, vanilla ice cream creaminess you find in some whiskies, and I won't lie - given the context, it did remind me of a creamy cheese-laden pasta. Herbal notes follow - mint primarily, followed by spiced oranges, some paprika. Towards the end of the palate you get some hints of drying tannins (no doubt the Port pipes at play), but it's very pleasant and integrates well with everything else. More herbal Amaro notes emerge over time - with menthol and orange peel especially showing.

Finish: Long, creamy and intense. The Port pipes really shine here, bringing a drying (but not too oaky) close.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale):  93/100. Truthfully, I was expecting to enjoy the experience of this one, but I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the whisky. I'm happy to say it was absolutely fantastic - with huge complexity (something I look for, especially in a whisky of this age), no "off" notes, no signs the whisky had been in the cask too long, and with flavours that work together in perfect harmony.

A fellow taster mentioned it would be a great whisky to match with food (in general), and I'd have to agree. Hopefully the winning bidder opens the bottle and finds out.

Online bidding on The Dalmore L'Anima Aged 49 Years is open now until 9th May (10pm HKT) - see here for details and to place a bid. The L'Anima auction ended with a winning bid of £108,900. The winning bidder also gets a dinner for two at Osteria Francescana, and speaking from experience, it's a dinner they won't forget!

A big thanks to Josh and The Dalmore / Whyte & Mackay for this incredible experience tonight.


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