Dalmore 12 vs Macallan 12 Sherry Cask Differences (2023)

Last Updated on December 29, 2022 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.

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. 


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. 

Which Is Better Between Dalmore 12 & 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!



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

One thought on “Dalmore 12 vs Macallan 12 Sherry Cask Differences (2023)

  • May 28, 2022 4:23 am at 4:23 am

    Dalmore is just a poor cut of spirit. Definitely amongst Scotland’s poorest ten distilleries for spirit quality.
    Macallan is a little better but both are grossly overpriced.
    If you enjoy either try Glenfarclas 12 or 15 or Glenallachie 12. Tamdhu is also a shout.


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