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Dalmore 12 vs Macallan 12 Sherry Cask Differences (2024)

Dalmore 12 vs Macallan 12

Last Updated on March 13, 2024 by Lydia Martin

When it comes to Scotch whisky, two names always come up: Dalmore 12 vs Macallan 12 sherry cask. These two brands are often compared to each other for a good reason. They both produce high-quality whisky that is loved by many. 

In this blog post, we will compare the two whiskies and see which one comes out on top!

Comparing Macallan 12 & Dalmore 12

Dalmore 12

The Macallan 12 Sherry Oak is part of The Macallan distillery’s Sherry Oak series that feature single malt whiskies matured in exclusive hand-picked sherry seasoned oak casks. On the other hand, Dalmore 12 Year Sherry Cask Select demonstrates the intimate connection between Spain and Scotland. It is owned and operated by Whyte & Mackay using casks from historic cooperages in Jerez.

The first thing you’ll notice when comparing Macallan 12 and Dalmore 12 is that they have very different color profiles. The Dalmore 12 is a much darker amber color, while the Macallan 12 is a rich golden amber. 

This is because the Dalmore 12 is aged in ex-bourbon barrels and finished in sherry casks, while the Macallan 12 is aged in sherry casks.

Key Differences

Key Differences

History & Distillery

Dalmore 12 is matured in ex-bourbon barrels for nine years before being transferred to Oloroso sherry casks for a further three years.

Macallan 12, on the other hand, spends twelve long years maturing in sherry seasoned oak casks from Spain, which imbues it with its distinctive rich fruitcake flavors.

Read: Macallan & Glenlivet Comparison

ABV & Tasting Notes

Macallan 12

Dalmore 12 is bottled at around 43% ABV, while Macallan 12 is at around 40%.  

On the nose, Dalmore 12 has the aromas of citrus fruits, toffee, and chocolate. There are also hints of spice from the time spent maturing in sherry casks.

Macallan 12, meanwhile, has rich aromas of sherry and fruitcake with hints of vanilla.

Base Materials


Like any single malt whisky, both Dalmore 12 and Macallan 12 are made with malted barley, water, and yeast. The production starts with malting the barley by steeping it in fresh spring water. Spreading it across a malting floor then allows the spirit to germinate. 

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Maturation Process

Oak barrels for whiskey

Dalmore 12 is matured in ex-bourbon casks for nine years before being transferred to Old Matusalem Oloroso sherry casks for three years. This provides the whisky with a bold, nutty character. 

Macallan 12, on the other hand, spends twelve long years maturing in hand-picked sherry casks from Jerez. This gives the spirit a rich and complex character, rich gold color, and notes of dried fruits and wood spice.


Dalmore 12 with glass

On the palate, the Dalmore 12 is smoother than the Macallan 12. The flavors are less intense, with notes of dark chocolate, cinnamon, crushed almonds, honey, and citrus. The Macallan 12 is a bit more intense, with flavors of fruit, oak, spice, ginger, and nutmeg [1].

Read: Popular Macallan Whiskies


The nose on the Dalmore 12 is much more floral than the Macallan 12, with caramelized orange blossom, honey, sultanas, and jasmine notes. The Macallan 12, on the other hand, has a nose that is heavier on the sherry notes, with raisins, dried fruits, and hints of vanilla.


A glass of Macallan 12

The Dalmore 12 has a finish of Panna cotta, sweet mangoes, and notes of vanilla with oak. The Macallan 12 has a long finish with oak, spice, sweet dried fruits, and a drying effect from the sherry.


The Dalmore 12 and Macallan 12 are within the same price range of around $60 to $80.  

Are There Any Similarities?

Yes, both whiskies are rich and full-bodied with a nice finish. They are also sherry cask matured and made using spring water and malted barley. 

The main difference is the time spent maturing in ex-sherry casks – Dalmore 12 spends three years while Macallan 12 spends twelve. This gives Macallan 12 a more intense flavor profile with heavier sherry notes. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which is smoother, Dalmore 12 or Macallan 12?

We think Macallan 12 is smoother than Dalmore 12. We like how Macallan offers a smooth yet rich taste with just the right amount of warmth. 

Is Macallan 12 sweeter than Dalmore 12?

Dalmore 12 tends to be sweeter than Macallan 12. We find the rich vanilla and citrus fruit combination of Dalmore to be sweeter than Macallan’s dried fruit and spicy notes. 

Is Macallan 12 high end?

Yes, Macallan 12 is considered a high-end Scotch whisky.

The Macallan distillery is renowned for producing premium single malt whiskies, and the Macallan 12-year-old expression is highly regarded for its quality and distinctive flavor profile.

It is known for its rich and complex characteristics, including notes of dried fruits, oak, and spice.

The Macallan 12 is often sought after by whisky enthusiasts and is priced accordingly in the high-end range.

What is similar to Dalmore 12?

If you enjoy Dalmore 12 and are looking for whiskies with similar characteristics, you might explore other single malts that share a comparable flavor profile.

Some whiskies known for their richness and complexity, similar to Dalmore 12, include Glenfiddich 15-Year-Old, Glenlivet 15-Year-Old, and Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban.

These whiskies often exhibit a balance of fruity, nutty, and oak influences.

What is the rating of Dalmore 12 year old?

Whisky ratings can vary based on individual preferences and the specific criteria used by different reviewers.

The Dalmore 12-year-old single malt Scotch whisky has generally received positive reviews for its rich and full-bodied character.

Ratings can be found on various whisky review websites, and it is advisable to check multiple sources for a comprehensive understanding of the whisky’s reception in the whisky community.

Is Dalmore high end?

Yes, Dalmore is considered a high-end Scotch whisky brand.

The Dalmore distillery, located in the Highlands of Scotland, is known for producing premium single malt whiskies characterized by their complexity, depth of flavor, and often, the use of unique cask finishes.

Dalmore whiskies, including expressions like the Dalmore 12-year-old, are priced in the high-end range, reflecting the quality and craftsmanship associated with the brand.

The Dalmore range includes various age statements and limited-edition releases that cater to discerning whisky enthusiasts who appreciate luxury and sophistication in their drams.

Why is Dalmore so expensive?

Dalmore whiskies are often considered expensive due to several factors contributing to their overall cost. These factors include:

Aging Process: Many Dalmore expressions are aged for extended periods, sometimes using unique cask finishes, which can increase production costs.

Cask Quality: Dalmore is known for using high-quality casks, often including sherry-seasoned casks and rare barrels, which can be more expensive than standard casks.

Limited Editions: Some Dalmore releases are limited editions or feature rare cask finishes, contributing to their exclusivity and higher price point.

Craftsmanship: Dalmore emphasizes craftsmanship and attention to detail in its production process, which can result in higher labor costs.

Brand Prestige: Dalmore has established itself as a luxury brand, and the perception of exclusivity and quality can influence pricing.

Overall, the combination of quality, craftsmanship, aging, and the use of premium casks contributes to the perceived value and cost of Dalmore whiskies.

Which of The Macallan 12 year old is best?

The Macallan offers several expressions of 12-year-old Scotch whisky, each with its unique characteristics.

The preference for the “best” one is subjective and depends on individual taste preferences.

Some popular 12-year-old Macallan expressions include The Macallan Sherry Oak 12-Year-Old and The Macallan Double Cask 12-Year-Old.

The Sherry Oak expression is known for its rich, sherry-influenced flavor profile, while the Double Cask incorporates both sherry-seasoned and American oak casks, offering a balance of sweetness and spice.

Is Macallan 12 actually 12 years old?

Yes, The Macallan 12-year-old expressions are aged for a minimum of 12 years in oak casks. The aging process contributes to the development of the whisky’s flavors, characteristics, and overall complexity.

How long does Macallan 12 last?

The duration a bottle of Macallan 12 will last depends on various factors, including how frequently it is consumed and the size of each serving.

Typically, a standard 750ml bottle of Macallan 12 can last for an extended period if enjoyed responsibly, with occasional servings. Once opened, whisky can oxidize over time, potentially affecting its flavor.

To preserve the whisky’s quality, storing it upright, away from direct sunlight, and in a cool environment can help minimize oxidation.

It’s advisable to consume the whisky within a reasonable timeframe after opening to fully appreciate its original characteristics.

Is Dalmore 12 smooth?

Dalmore 12 is often described as a smooth whisky. Its profile is known for its richness, complexity, and well-balanced character.

The whisky undergoes a maturation process that includes aging in American white oak casks, followed by a finish in sherry-seasoned oak casks.

This dual maturation contributes to the smoothness of Dalmore 12, as well as its distinctive flavor profile that combines fruity, nutty, and spiced notes.

Is Dalmore a good whisky?

Dalmore is widely regarded as a good whisky, known for its premium quality and craftsmanship.

The distillery, located in the Scottish Highlands, produces a range of single malt whiskies, with expressions like the Dalmore 12 gaining recognition for their complexity and depth of flavor.

The use of high-quality casks and a commitment to traditional craftsmanship contribute to Dalmore’s reputation as a good and respected whisky brand.

Is Dalmore 12 sweet?

Dalmore 12 exhibits a degree of sweetness in its flavor profile, which is attributed to the influence of the sherry-seasoned oak casks during the maturation process.

The sweetness is often complemented by notes of dried fruits, citrus, vanilla, and a hint of spice. While it has sweetness, the overall taste is well-balanced, offering a combination of various flavor elements that contribute to the complexity of the whisky.

Which is better Macallan or Glenfiddich?

Determining whether Macallan or Glenfiddich is better depends on individual taste preferences. Both distilleries produce high-quality single malt Scotch whiskies, but they are known for different characteristics.

The Macallan: Renowned for its sherry-seasoned oak casks, The Macallan offers rich, full-bodied whiskies with a focus on sweetness, dried fruits, and oak influences. If you enjoy a more decadent and sherried profile, The Macallan might be a preferred choice.

Glenfiddich: Known for its pioneering spirit and diverse range, Glenfiddich often features a fruitier and lighter style of whisky. The core range includes a variety of expressions, such as the Glenfiddich 12, which is approachable and often appeals to a broad audience.

Ultimately, the “better” choice between Macallan and Glenfiddich comes down to personal taste preferences, whether one prefers the richness of sherry influence (Macallan) or the fruit-forward and approachable nature (Glenfiddich).

Exploring both distilleries’ offerings can help enthusiasts find the style of whisky that resonates with their palate.

Final Verdict: Dalmore 12 vs Macallan 12?

It depends on your personal preferences. Dalmore 12 and Macallan 12 are rich, full-bodied whiskies with a commendable finish. They’re also sherry cask matured, which imparts a complex flavor profile.  

If you prefer a sweeter whisky, then Dalmore 12 is probably a better choice. If you prefer a smoother whisky, then Macallan 12 might be a better option. Ultimately, it comes down to what you like to drink. But we recommend you try both. Cheers!


  1. What Is Nutmeg?

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