Dallas Dhu distillery, Scotland

Dallas Dhu was the last Scotch whisky distillery that was built in the
19th century. It was also one of the very first distilleries in Scotland
with the 'traditional' pagoda roof. In fact, the Dailuaine distillery to
the south-east was first with that feature, but Dallas Dhu followed
not much later - just like dozens of other distilleries in Scotland.
 
At first sight, the pagoda roof might seem out of place in Scotland
to the casual observer - usually pagoda's are associated with old
Buddhist temples in countries like Japan or China. Buddhists are
teetotallers, so the Highlands of Scotland (still the world's largest
whisky producer) hardly seem like an appropriate backdrop for a
temple. However, the origins of the roof are in fact Scottish.
 
The architect Charles Chree Doig from Elgin designed the first
pagoda roof and installed it at the Dailuaine distillery in 1889.
Charles' objective had little to do with aesthetic considerations,
his primary goal was to improve the air flow around the peat fires
in the kiln. His roof design proved to work beautifully; a few years
later dozens of whisky distilleries had the notable pointy roofs.
 
The Dallas Dhu distillery was built as 'Dallasmore' in 1898 by
Alexander Edward of Sanquhar, a prominent Speyside distiller.
The original name 'Dai leas dubh' (some books list the name as
'Dalais Dubh') translates as 'black water valley' or 'field by the black
waterfall'
. Alexander decided to build the distillery on his estate,
located in the far west of the Speyside area, south of Forres. 

Dallas Dhu whisky, 22 years old Scotch

Dallas Dhu Scotch whisky

Where to find Dallas Dhu

Dallas Dhu Scotch Whisky

Dallas Dhu  (Pronounced: Dallas Doo)
Speyside (Central)
5735'23.5356 N, 336'12.6576 W
Benromach, Glenburgie, Miltonduff
1899
Closed (in 1983)
Altyre Burn (known locally as the Scourie Burn)
2 Wash stills, 2 Spirit stills
None - Dallas Dhu was closed in 1983
Diageo / DCL / Scottish Malt Distillers
Morayshire, Scotland, UK
-
Not as such, the distillery was closed a long time ago
No
No - but there were some licensed bottlings by G&M
Below, on WhiskyFun and on the Malt Maniacs Monitor

Dallas Dhu location

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Trivia about Dallas Dhu

1) Dallas Dhu was one of the first distilleries with a pagoda roof. It was designed by the company of Charles Doig and his two sons who were involved with the design of more than a hundred distilleries in Scotland and Ireland. Dozens of them have been active until this day - like Glenfarclas, Highland Park, Lagavulin, Talisker and Bushmills (in Ireland).

2) The most popular blended whisky of Wright & Grieg Ltd. at the end of the 19th century was "Roderick Dhu".

3) Between 1921 and 1929 Dallas Dhu distillery was owned by Benmore Distillers Ltd., an English consortium that also owned the Benmore and Lochhead whisky distilleries in Campbeltown and the Lochindaal distillery on Islay.

4) Even though the Dallas Dhu distillery was closed in 1983, warehousing continued at the premises until the whisky distilling license was cancelled for good in 1992.

5) The name "Dallas Dhu" has sometimes been spelled as "Dallasdhu" in the past.

6) The old distillery buildings of Dallas Dhu are now used to house a museum.
 

Dallas Dhu single malt whisky

Dallas Dhu 28yo 1981/2010 (55.8%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Hogshead, C#423, 130 Bts.)
Nose: Clean with a light maltiness. A little chalky with some farmy notes in the background. Diesel?
Fairly restrained. Odd. It stays weird after I added a generous splash of water. Some Islay traits.
Taste: Surprisingly powerful start. Sourish. Pine in the finish. Undiluted, I wouldn't recommend it.
Score: 80 points - I can't actually say that I LIKE it very much, but the nose is unusual and interesting.

Dallas Dhu 26yo 1981/2008 (57.3%, Part des Anges 'Closed Distilleries', C#PDA366)
Nose: Oyoyoy… Sour apples - almost vinegar. Becomes less harsh after a minute, but nothing emerges in return.
A little metallic perhaps? I decided to try it again and found much more subtleties this time.
Taste: Much more pleasant than the nose suggest, although a perfumy undercurrent remains.
Feels a little chalky. Strong tannins in the finish with a coffee bitteness. 'Buysmann' burnt caramel.
Score: 73 points - I can't put this above average in good faith. However, other maniacs liked it a lot more.

Dallas Dhu 22yo 1981/2003 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, DL REF 730, 408 Bts.)
Nose: Ah, sherry and antiquity. Celery. Polsihed wood. Faint organics in the distance.
This has more 'sherry' character instead of the (fruitier) 'sherry wood' one often finds.
Some rough rubbery edges can burn your nose a little bit, but an altogether brilliant nose.
Taste: Fruity, but very serious. Loads of smoke - did they use a lot of peat here?
The wood is beautiful; especially in the finish. Lovely tannins and the fruit to pull it off.
This is the sort of profile I often find in whiskies that were bottled in the 1960's & 1970's.
Score: 86 points - they don't make 'em anymore like they used to. A tad too extreme?
I should point out that the scores on the matrix vary widely (between 66 and 91 points).

Dallas Dhu 22yo 1978/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, Sherry, 408 Bottles, July 1981 / July 2003)
Nose: Mildly sherried. Opens up with time but it never becomes very 'big'.
Taste: Quite serious. A combination of bitter and sweet that's 'caramely'.
Score: 83 points - which is nice, but not terribly impressive for a whisky this old.

Dallas Dhu 21yo 1975/1997 (61.9%, UD Rare Malts, Bottled April 1997)
Nose: Quite feisty with coastal overtones. Sorry, no more details.
Taste: Solid and malty on the palate with a faint hint of smoke.
Score: 81 points - this Dallas Dhu whisky is vaguely interesting but hardly great value.

Dallas Dhu 10yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail bottling, Bottled 1990's)
Nose: Smoke & citrus. Sweet & sour apples! Some sherry. Rich. Lovely chocolate & rum sweetness. Rhubarb?
Taste: Apples. Soft & smooth, sweeter with sherry & malt later on. Toffee & chocolate? Menthol? Long, dry finish.
Score: 79 points - which is certainly not bad, considering the standard proof of 40% of this whisky.

Dallas Dhu 12yo 1968 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice, Old Brown Label, Bottled +/-1980)
Nose: A little MOTR like many CC bottlings, but this leans in a farmy direction. Perhaps a little oily?
After some ten minutes of breathing I got some 'old bottle effect' after I found it in the taste too.
Taste: Toffee with some pine in the background. Butterscotch? A reasonable dose of sherry.
Solid mouth feel. After a few minutes of breathing I got a little bit of 'Old Bottle Effect' on the palate.
Score: 86 points - this malt is very nice to begin with, but benefits greatly if you give it some time...
One of the striking things was the excellent mouth feel at 40% - which is usually to weak for my tastes.
 

And there's more to tell about Dallas Dhu...

These were not all (official & independent) bottlings of Dallas Dhu Scotch whisky I've tried over the years.
Besides, these tasting notes only reflect my own, personal opinion; your tastes might be different from mine.
Fortunately, you can find the scores and tasting notes from up to two dozen other whisky lovers in the 'Malt Maniacs Monitor' - an independent whisky database with details on more than 15,000 different whiskies from Scotland and the rest of the world. Visit the Dallas Dhu page on the MMMonitor and select 'scorecard view' if you want to know how other whisky lovers felt about the dozens of Dallas Dhu expressions that were released in the past. However, if you'd like to learn more about whisky in general (and single malt Scotch whisky in particular), you might want to check out the Beginner's Guide to Scotch whisky (10 chapters filled with everything you need to fully enjoy and appreciate a glass of single malt whisky) or the mAlmanac (sort of a rudimentary whisky shopping guide.) 
 

Dallas Dhu whisky, distilled in 1979

In 1899 ownership switched to Wright & Greig Ltd.
Founder Alexander Edwards was one of the owners of this blending company from Glasgow.
When control of the distillery was transferred the name was changed to Dallas Dhu, and for
two decades not a lot happened. The distillery was quite successful - something that was
often attributed to the quality of the local water in those days. That's why te founders had
decided to build their distillery along the Altyre Burn (also known locally as the Scourie Burn). 

After considerable investments the Dallas Dhu distillery was extended in the 1950's and 1960's.
Even though the distillery was not located somewhere 'in the middle of nowhere' in the far Highlands,
electricity wasn't available at Dallas Dhu until the 1950's. Until the distillery was modernised it drew
all its power from a large water wheel. In fact, the water wheel still contributed a significant portion
of the required power well into the 1970's. However, not long after they stopped using the old water
wheel, the distillery itself had to be closed as well due to the harsh laws of economics.
 
The whisky world found itself in crisis in the early 1980's when it became clear that the production
capacity greatly exceeded demand. I'm not sure if this imbalance was caused by either more efficient
production methods or a drop in demand because people started drinking less - but one of the effects
was that the Distillers Company Limited decided to close the Dallas Dhu distillery in 1983. At the same
time, DCL also closed Banff, Brora, Glen Albyn, Glen Mhor, Knockdhu, North Port and St. Magdalene.
The license to distill was withdrawn in 1992, which efectively means that Dallas Dhu is gone for good.

In all probability, the success of Dallas Dhu had more to do with the location along the
(now defunct) railway line between Forres and Aviemore. In 1919, Dallas Dhu distillery
was bought by J. P. O'Brian & Co., but they didn't hang on to it for very long. It was sold
on to Benmore Distilleries Ltd. two years later in 1921. Around the same time the Dallas
Dhu malt whisky became an important part of the Benmore blend; what a coincidence. ;-)
It's always interesting to see how flexible recipes for blended whisky are...
 
Benmore Distilleries Ltd. was taken over by DCL (Distillers Company Limited)
in 1929. They decided to close the distillery until 1936. It was revived in that
year, but a lmassive fire destroyed the still house and a lot of equipment on
April 9th, 1939. The still house was rebuilt in the same year, but due to the
start of the Second World War, it took until 1947 before Dallas Dhu started
operating again. Operations were transferred to SMD by that time.

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