$$$ — 43% ABV — 15 years
Probably the most drinkable single malt at market, Dalwhinnie tastes just like it looks: soft and honeyed. One of the few highland malts that are peated, you wouldn't know to taste it. What smoke is present is much more subtlety worked in, and acts to bring out notes of sourdough or even pretzel.
Named for its town of origin, Dalwhinnie translates as "meeting place," a plains between two mountains where many shepherds would once stop and meet each other.
It is one of the highest-elevated distilleries in Scotland at 1073 feet. This naturally makes the town quite cold, colder even than some of the distilleries in Argyll & Bute. However it's matured in warehouses far closer to sea-level and so matures at a rate that's quite common for Highland whiskies.
The 15 year expression on this malt is no doubt to help reign back that peatiness, keep it subtle but still informing the flavor. A younger expression would have much more smoke available to the note. Without that soft and malty background, this would perhaps be a boring and possibly tart drink. As it is, Dalwhinnie is a sweetie. It shows off how peat doesn't have to be all that scary, and is one of the absolute best first buy for those new to Scotch whisky.