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Dailuaine (pronounced: dal-YOO-an) is one of the largest distilleries in Diageos portfolio in terms of sheer production capacity. Despite this fact it is still a relatively obscure name in the world of malt whisky, only two percent is set aside to be bottled as a single malt, the rest is churned into various shades of Johnny Walker. Most people that have had a chance to try a few different expressions agree that Dailuaine is a fine spirit, one that seems ideally suited to relaxed and easy drinking. Its just that the blenders always thought so as well.
Stills: 3 Wash 3 Spirit
Water Source: Ballieumullich Burn
Capacity: 3.2 Million Litres
1960-1983: Expansion and Old Style.
Dailuaine was expanded in 1960, bringing the number of stills from four to six, which means that it must have been considered an integral blending ingredient even then. The stills were all converted to mechanical stoking, and later to steam heating in 1965. The floor maltings were also decommissioned in 1960, they were replaced by a saladin box system that would remain in use until 1963. These modernisations would inevitably lead to a change in the character of the distillate at Dailuaine, as it did at almost all distilleries in Scotland at this time.
Old style Dailuaine was much in the same vein as many highland/speyside malts of this era. The predominant characteristics were dense fruit and wax with many sub characteristics, notably resinous, citrus, metallic, polish and oily aspects. There are a few notable bottlings from this era that display this character beautifully. There were two 1966 casks by Cadenheads bottled at 27 and 31yo, both of which were utterly stunning. An excellent 1975 28yo by Berry Bros was also beautifully resinous and fruity. The Rare Malts 1972 22yo was predictably, but charmingly, austere, lemony and herbaceous. More recently there was a 1973 for the The Whisky Fair in Limburg that was quite powerful and extractive but still densely fruity and entertaining.
1983-Present Day: Rich Fruits and Soft Smoke.
Dailuaine was first bottled as a single malt as part of the Flora and Fauna range in 1991, as a 16yo matured solely in sherry casks, a guise it has maintained ever since. The character is full-bodied and all on dried fruits, biscuits, soft spices and some very elegant smoky notes, an obscure dram but with small crew of loyal followers.
There are not that many independent bottlings of Dailuaine about, although they do pop up from time to time. They are often quite variable depending on the wood type and strength and can be either soft and citrusy or more ballsy with a good malty, chewy weight to them as in the 16yo OB. Hopefully Diageo will see fit to release some more expressions of it in the coming years because when it is good it can be a truly beautiful spirit.