SMWS Advent Calendar: Day 8

Behind door number eight lies another dram in waiting. Bottled from the 139th Dailuaine cask, A Complex Character is a 12-year-old dram with an interesting backstory. This dram was distilled right before the distillery went through a set of changes meant to give the distillery a different character. Which makes this dram one of the last Dailuaine bottlings with their previous style of whisky. I would have loved comparing this one to a more recently distilled Dailuaine. But unfortunately, I do not own such a bottle. Still, I’m very eager to find out if this dram has a nose, palate, and finish as interesting as its backstory. Let’s find out!

Tasting Notes: Society Cask 41.139 “A Complex Character”

ABV: 60.9% (121.8 proof)

Age: 12 years old

Distillery: Dailuaine

Bottled by: The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Category: Single Malt Scotch Whisky

SMWS Flavour Profile: Juicy, Oak & Vanilla

Chill-filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes


The alcohol vapors coming off the glass are quite strong on this one, approach it with caution. When you do, you’ll find a wide array of fruits at your disposal. The first thing that comes to mind is canned fruit salad. With tangerines, pineapple, mango, and grapes covered in a light but sweet syrup. Especially the notes of pineapple and mango appear in a delicate and beautiful way, never becoming overwhelming. This nose is like a little getaway to a tropical island. It makes me want to sit back and relax. A few drops of water make it all even more gentle, like a soft summer breeze has just passed by. It doesn’t change the nose or gives it a new dimension, but that’s okay as it remains ever so pleasant.


The palate brings an instant sweetness, with maple syrup and honey fighting over who gets to cover all that tropical fruit. And in the end, it’s candied honey that takes the win. Waves of pepper and tannins start flowing through your mouth as well. The bitter counterpart to this dram’s sweetness makes sure that your entire mouth gets to experience this dram, from the tip of your tongue to the inside of your cheeks. There’s also a slight winegum and liquorice note, reminding me vaguely of “drop-fruit duo’s” a type of candy which combines the two. The mouthfeel is thick enough to chew. Water lights a fire, leading to an explosion in pepper. Thick and heavy black pepper corns, but still covered with a luscious amount of honey. It also reveals an ever so slight lemon note, but that dissipates as fast as it came.


The finish starts of with pepper, and then transforms to chunks of the candied honey mentioned in the palate earlier. It’s not as lengthy as I would like – as I’m truly loving the flavours on this one – but it’s medium length will suffice. Some powdered sugar and a hint of tannins also remain on the tongue for a while. But nothing can really take centre place from the candied honey here. Water seems to lengthen the finish and it gives the accompanying flavours a little bit more wind in their sails. It propels the finish forward, which makes it a conundrum as I preferred the palate without the addition of water.


This dram was a lovely little getaway to the Bahama’s, at the courtesy of the combined powers of the whisky and my mind. The nose is gorgeous and transfers you to an enlightened state of mind. The palate and the finish are both wonderful as well, though it’s still the nose on this dram that shines the brightest. A Complex Character is an apt name for this dram, and one that can go straight on my Christmas list. It’s my favourite nose of this advent yet, though overall the winner still goes to day number five for me.



How did I know this was a Dailuaine? Just look at the code and find it in my SMWS bottle codes list!

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