I love it when people send me whisky, and a nice drop of Dalwhinnie? Great.
Winter’s Gold is the latest in Diageo’s No Age Statement versions of core Classic Malts, following on from the likes of Talisker Skye and Oban Little Bay. Reading between the lines of marketing hyperbole, Diageo, along with nearly every brand owner, is struggling with stock levels and these new lines help protect the existing product range, rather than replace them. It seems a small price to pay, if we can keep the whiskies we already know and love.
When I first read the press release that accompanied my sample, the thing that struck me was the suggested serve. ‘The suggested serve of Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold is frozen. Freezing the liquid transforms the texture of the liquid to create a syrupy mouthfeel.’
Reading this, you may well explode in a volley of curses aimed at anyone who has ever worked in marketing, but I was intrigued, as this approach mirrors closely what Rémy Martin did with their iconic VSOP when Rocky and I visited them in 2008: ‘Freezing the Rémy Martin VSOP enhances the aromatic smoothness of the Cognac, giving it an entirely different and very exciting profile…‘
Seven years ago I was rather underwhelmed, both with the concept and the Cognac. But being fair-minded, my sample of Winter’s Gold snuggled up to the leftover chicken curry, bottle of gin and bag of peas. I also decided to try it, as I would any other whisky, at room temperature.
Straight out of the freezer, does Winter’s Gold ‘amplify the rich, heather, honeyed flavours that the distillery is famed for‘? Sort of, but… In the glass it’s very syrupy; oozing rather than flowing. The nose is unsurprisingly quiet, crème brûlée and peaches, but really soft. The palate however is a bit more interesting. I’m getting plenty of creamy heather and honey, along with a bit of waxy, sappy oak and lemon, with just a hint on menthol at the finish.
So does frozen whisky make me rethink the habits of a lifetime? No. Is it an enjoyable way of drinking whisky? Yes, it’s OK. Like freezing grain whisky, it brings out the creaminess.
What if you treat it like any other malt and don’t put it in the freezer at all? At room temperature, the Dalwhinnie looks, smells and tastes; like Dalwhinnie. The nose is light and nutty with a distinct nut-toffee edge and just a whiff of wood smoke. The palate is light, fresh and honeyed, with a nice cut of citrus running through. A good Dalwhinnie that would make a really good aperitif dram.
Why bother putting the bag of peas to so much trouble? Don’t worry about the frozen part. It’s a great expression of Dalwhinnie. If you like Dalwhinnie 15, you’ll like Winter’s Gold, too.