...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Meditations on Stay-At-Home Fatherhood and also Tomintoul 42 year old 1969 Archives

Back in the '80s and early '90s, my father went on business trips to other states.  Starting around the time I was six years old, he used to sit me down in his home office the night before the trip and tell me that if anything happened to him he wanted me to know that he loved me very much.  These talks would result in me crying uncontrollably, knowing that my dad (who always expresses his love freely on normal days) would die someday and it would definitely be on one of these trips which consisted entirely of him talking to retirees about their annuities and mutual funds.  This talk would come twice a year, every year, and would result in my sobbing every time.  That is, until I was a teenager and began to wonder what the f*** is wrong my father?

Now I am a father and, though science has yet to figure out what hell is going on with the Kravitz Y chromosome, I can begin to understand what he was trying to do.  As a dad, I want my daughter to feel safe, secure, comfortable, and loved at all times.  So I do everything I can to create that environment.  But she's 10 months old and doesn't understand the words I speak.  She recognizes tone and familiar sounds, but the rest of the linguistics are lost.  (To be fair, I don't understand what she says either.)  So, while I'm providing food, formula, and hugs, whatever I am saying to her I am saying for myself.  Eventually she will understand my words, but even then a lot of what I say will also be addressing a subconscious need to feel like a successful loving parent.  I think that a lot of what we do as parents for pre-language children we do also for ourselves.  "I may have made her bottle too hot, waited too long to change her diaper, gotten too frustrated when she wouldn't nap on schedule, dropped too many F-bombs in front of her while we were stuck in traffic, but as long as I sing her the ABCs, direct one-acts between the panda bear and the pink mutant butterfly, hold her when she's upset, and tell her that I love her every day then at least I'm a better father than Adrian Peterson."

My dad, who is very much alive, may have thought he was giving the grim I-love-you speech for my sake but he was likely doing it for himself as well, probably soothing a guilt for being away from his children and one-upping his own father's failings.  Meanwhile, in the process he greatly influenced my constant awareness of my own mortality.  Another instance of doing things with the best loving intent, but not achieving the ends sought.  Is that just fatherhood?  Or is that something we can moderate?  I can't wait to hear from a teenage Mathilda about how my best efforts (let alone my worst ones) warped her brain.  I should probably stop making tugboat horn nosies every time she farts.

On the flip side, I would redirect Jupiter's orbit if it drew out her laughter.  Is that for me?  Is it for her?  Does such a diaphanous instant require assigned ownership once it is released into the universe?  I really don't care.

Regarding language, I'm pretty sure she does comprehend "No" and "Stop".  Those words clearly mean, "Cry at top of your lungs and swing your limbs violently."  But at least she pauses in her latest act of self-destruction when the protest starts.

I think she's going to be teething for the rest of her life.  God help us.

I'm going to pour myself a drink.

Distillery: Tomintoul
Ownership: Angus Dundee
Bottler: Archives (Whiskybase)
Age: 42 years (June 1969 - March 2012)
Maturation: ex-bourbon cask
Cask #s: 4266
Bottles: 60
Region: Speyside
Alcohol by Volume: 42.4%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No

Its color is dark gold.  The nose opens with a big beautiful high-rye bourbon note, followed by milk chocolate and mocha.  Then papaya, tobacco snuff, Dr. Brown's black cherry soda, and the corners of an empty old bookcase.  My left nostril finds loquats.  The right one picks up caramel-layered fudge and furniture polish.  With time, the whisky's nose gets very creamy and sugary, developing a slight split timber note.  Though the palate is very gentle it has a refined toffee→orange peel→pipe tobacco→mint→peach nectar progression.  There are moments of rosewater syrup and black pepper.  A bit of almost rancio-like mustiness.  A mild bitter note pulses throughout.  Gradually it all moves towards basil candy and (lots of) dark chocolate.  Plenty of chocolate malt in the finish, along with clementines and toffee.  A hint of wood cinders.  Maybe some cherry cordials and tart lemons.  It's all subtle, but long lasting.

Wow.  I'll list the caveats up front, I guess.  Firstly, I've found that most ultra-aged whiskies can hang out in the glass for a couple of hours without falling apart.  This one needs to be finished before the first hour is up because it fades immediately after that.  Result of the low abv?  Secondly, if you don't like bourbon then this probably wouldn't be your kind of whisky.  The old old oak is unsurprisingly unshy and for a moment the nose is just a kickass spicy bourbon.  It returns to Scotland immediately after that, but still the cask remained vibrant after more than four decades.

But that's it for the qualifiers.  I loved this stuff.  The nose is the star, but the palate progresses in a lovely fashion.  Even though I have limited experience with 40+ year old single malts, I do know that not all of them perform like this one.  So, chasing after ancient stuff and paying premiums won't necessarily land you a winner.  But the Whiskybase fellas did select another gem here.  And to think this was priced at a level now topped by many whiskies half its age in the current market... I sampled this three years too late.

(For other opinions see: Serge, Mark Dermul, Ruben, Macdeffe (and Todd in the comments), and whiskybase.)

Availability - All gone
Pricing - was €160 w/VAT (€132 without)
Rating - 92


  1. Sounds a lot better than the only two old Tomintouls I've tried a little of (one of which was also a 42, 1969):


    Also, if my children are left fatherless by the conference trip I'm about to embark on in a couple of days I hope you will feel very guilty.

    1. I won't feel guilty as long as they keep ghost-writing your posts! Okay, now I feel guilty about that sentence. Travel safely.

      I had my eye on that Kintra Tomintoul bottle once upon a time, but didn't want to dive in blindly. I should have gotten the sample like you did.