40%, ac/dc, air guitar, beastie boys, danville, flick of the switch, illinois, king alexander iii, licorice, liquorice, lutheran, miser, nervous shakedown, review, run-dmc, scotch, scrooge, The Dalmore, thoma, Whiskey, whisky
I’m not going to spend any time here explaining the name of this whisky. If you want to know, it’s easy enough to visit The Dalmore website. I’d rather spend the short time I have with you telling you about something extraordinary that happened to me last week.
I was sitting on the couch next to my wife, tapping on my phone and scrolling through Amazon’s music downloads when I came across ACDC’s album “Flick of the Switch.” I remember loving this album. In fact, my brother (may he rest in peace) and I put our funds together and bought it on vinyl at the K-Mart where my mom worked. I think I was maybe ten or eleven years old. We had a crappy little record player with permanently wired speakers that I’d bought for about $10 at a garage sale, and man, we listened to that record over and over one summer, pretty much every day. It never got old.
Well, somehow the record got scratched and became almost unusable. Every song skipped. And with that, we put it aside. For a poor rock-n-roll kid growing up in the seventies and eighties, with all of the vomitus disco and artificially inseminated pop music confiscating the airwaves, it was a tragedy. While music got worse and worse, it was most certainly bands like ACDC that kept me and my brother sane. Embarrassingly, there was a very short stint of rap, but that was only stirred by Run-DMC’s collaboration with Aerosmith and the Beasties Boys’ “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.” The heavy guitars made those songs worthwhile.
But if I were to say that there was one particular album that belonged to me and my brother, Michael, it was “Flick of the Switch.” In fact, I remember being at my friend Jeff’s house and hearing that album and thinking, “Who does this guy think he is? That’s our album. We own that.”
Strangely, for one reason or another, as the years went by and I was collecting cassette tapes, and eventually CDs, and finally MP3s – even following my brother’s untimely death — I never even thought to seek out and buy “Flick of the Switch.” But as I said, when we crossed paths last week, I reminisced and bought it.
I didn’t even listen to it that night because the bedtime hour was already upon me, but that very next day, having returned home in the evening after a very long and challenging day, I hopped on the treadmill to type up an article for another blog I write for, tapped my new download, and turned it up.
It’s been over thirty years since I’d heard those songs, and yet every single lyric Brian Johnson growled, every single gritty guitar strum Malcom Young hammered, every single piercing solo his brother Angus could scream through the speakers came stampeding back — and I knew them all like I’d heard them yesterday.
I know it may sound a little crazy to say that I almost started crying right there on the treadmill, but it’s true…and I couldn’t help it. I had been whisked back to our little adjoining rooms at the top of the stairs in Danville, Illinois, right back to that little record player, right back to a perfect time many years before I’d lose my bandmate Michael, right back to a summer where we were throwing ourselves around the room with badminton guitars and rocking like no one else in the neighborhood could’ve. Our favorite song: “Nervous Shakedown.” Man, we loved that song. That whole summer came back in a flash and was so startlingly crammed into my soul. It was pretty overwhelming.
Now, the reason I offer this little bit of personal history as a preface to a review of The Dalmore King Alexander III is simple.
There are things that we do, times that are precious and precise, items we hold sacred, and events that only we will know and be able to recall from the catacombs of our minds. This is a whisky worthy of such esteem.
The nose springs with the familiar scent of warmed red licorice, but not something like a cheap bag of Twizzlers. (My wife says that stuff is only a molecule away from being considered plastic.) This is authentic. This is the stuff they used to sell at the little candy store in town where you grew up, fashioned straight from the licorice root with molasses and cherry extract added to make it exceptionally sweet.
The palate, surprisingly, does not let you taste the red variety, but rather, the black. I’ve never preferred black licorice, but then again, I’ve never given it a tinge of warmth in a saucepan before eating it. Delightfully pleasant, bringing along a malty (but not far afield from a perceivable sweet) molasses and a little nip of spice.
The finish is medium, bordering on long. I think it would be longer if it wasn’t so sweet and the ABV was a bit higher – more like 43%-46% as opposed to its actual at 40%.
In all, this is a pleasant whisky. And remember, my suggestion is that it belongs in the category of whiskies in your cabinet that aren’t to be kept to “self.” This isn’t the caliber of whisky a miser would purchase, anyway, so don’t Scrooge its consumption. You should be gathered with friends, family – people with whom you’d be willing to demonstrate your best air guitar moves when that communally favorite rock song comes on the radio, folks you want to remember having been there for you in challenge, folks who were there to rejoice with you in triumph – and vice versa. The Dalmore King Alexander III is distinct enough that years from now, long after your first encounter, you’ll remember where you were, who you were with, and what you were doing.