...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Other Ts: Tomintoul 16 year old (The Re-Review!)

I'll be taking a short break from the Scotland 2016 series as I structure the remaining posts.  In its place this week, I'll be taking a look at The Other 'T' Distilleries.  Who are the other T's?  Not Talisker, who gets all the love, and plenty of action on this site.  Hell, there's going to be another Taliskravaganza in 2017.  Not big ol' Tomatin, since I just did a week of Tomatin stuff recently.  And not Tobermory, who has been getting some serious love recently due to the success of their heavily-peated single malt, Ledaig.  I'm talking about the other guys.

First up is Tomintoul, a medium-sized Speyside distillery that's been around for all of fifty-one years.  They had six different owners, including a former Hitler Youth, in their first thirty five years.  It's been sixteen spins around the sun since Angus Dundee PLC took over and they haven't given up the reins yet.  The Malt Whisky Yearbook states (on page 173) that Tomintoul's 10, 14, 16, and 21 year old single malts are all kosher-certified.  If true, then these whiskies were all aged in ex-bourbon casks, unless they dug up some kosher sherry barrels somewhere.  For devout Jews who keep strictly kosher, the moment whisky touches a barrel that held non-kosher wine, it violates the Kashrut (kosher laws).  Now why wine made by goyim is considered not kosher, while whisky made by goyim can be is something you'll have to ask someone else.  I do not keep kosher, so bring on the Pancetta cask Caol Ila (redundant!)!

There are two Tomintouls I'm reviewing this week and I tried them side-by-side.  Today, it's the 16 year old.  It's true reviewed this whisky almost five years ago, for my third-ever whisky blog post.  I gave the whisky 90 points.  Please don't read that review.  Read this one instead.

My own bottle!
Sample taken from about this spot.
Distillery: Tomintoul
Ownership: Angus Dundee Distillers
Region: Speyside (Livet)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: minimum 16 years
Maturation: ex-bourbon casks only (confirmed)
Bottling year: 2014
Alcohol by Volume: 40%
Chillfiltered? Yes
Caramel Colored? Yes

Its color is of filtered apple juice.  The nose is grassy and very malty.  Big notes of anise and butterscotch sing throughout.  Smaller notes of spearmint leaves, cotton, cherry Jolly Ranchers, confectioner's sugar, and cucumber skin mingle and peek out here and there.  The palate holds apples, pears, and cracked black peppercorns.  Mild notes of vanilla and tart berries sit in the midground.  It becomes bit drying and picks up a quirky bitter note after 20 minutes in the glass.  It finishes tangy and lightly sweet with vanilla and malt.  A little bit of that bitterness too.

Though that already felt a little light, let's do what the blenders do (supposedly) and water it down further to see if it swims.

WITH WATER (~30%abv)
The nose's anise note expands further, making this feel Sambuca-ish at first.  Then comes some whole wheat crackers, mint, barley, and maybe even a little yeast.  The palate is very blendy with vanilla, sugar, and pepper, but no fruit.  Some bitter oak rolls in and stays through the finish, joined by citrus and vanilla.

Like Diageo's Singleton series, Tomintoul 16 really is a single malt for blend drinkers, because it tastes like a blend.  It can be compared favorably with the always smooth Chivas 18.  What Chivas 18 has that this malt lacks are the fruit notes (courtesy of Longmorn and Strathisla?).  Meanwhile the Tomintoul has a not-always-enjoyable bitter note which feels too oaky, while the Chivas does not.  Take away that bitter thing, and this makes for an unremarkable but wholly drinkable single malt.

It's a shame Tomintoul waters almost all of their whiskies down to 40%abv.  It would be interesting to try this one at 46%-48%abv, but I believe it'll still have a lot of youth to it, feeling younger than its 16 years, even at that strength.  What this whisky does have going for it is its price (as of today), selling for less than $50 in a few of the The States, and less than $60 in most places.  A 16yo for less than $60?  Yep, but you're going to get what you pay for.

Availability - Many specialty retailers
Pricing - $45-$70
Rating - 81 (neat only)