...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Other Ts: Tomintoul 14 year old (2014)

In yesterday's review of Tomintoul 16yo I wrote, "Tomintoul waters almost all of their whiskies down to 40%abv".  This includes their 10yo, 16yo, 21yo, 27yo, and even their 36y distilled in 1976.  That means they can accurately label themselves "the gentle dram" because there's a lot of water in their whisky.  A company will do whatever it wants with its products, but it's seems a shame to soak a product that took so long to produce and mature, like the 36yo.

A few years ago, Tomintoul suddenly plopped two single malts with 46%abvs into the middle of their range, a 12yo Port Wood finish and a regular 14 year old.  The company continued their good habit of keeping their prices down, so rather than charging a premium for the quality presentation, both bottles were priced less than the 16yo in Europe.  It does look like the 14 is more expensive in the US though, if you can actually find it.

I picked up a mini of the 14yo while making a gift shop stop in the Western Highlands last month.  Last week, I tasted this whisky alongside the 40%abv 16yo Tomintoul (which was also bottled in 2014).  Let's see how this uncolored, unfiltered Tomintoul tastes.

Distillery: Tomintoul
Ownership: Angus Dundee Distillers
Region: Speyside (Livet)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: minimum 14 years
Maturation: ex-bourbon casks, I think
Bottling year: 2014
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colored? No

They're not BSing about the lack of added colorant.  The whisky's color is lighter than pinot grigio.  The nose is more nude than the 16's.  Lots of barley and fresh herbs.  Basil candy.  Slightly floral.  A toffee-like note floats in and out.  With time in the glass, the nose picks up a vanilla bean note and the flower blossoms get stronger.  Some fun notes of grape candy and lemon cleaner appear.  Lots of not-so-gentle heat in the palate.  There's a big roasted barley note that reads almost like coffee beans.  There are some white peppercorns, along with hints of caramel and butter.  The caramel note grows with time, as does a notebook paper note.  More heat in the dry finish.  Peppercorns and vanilla.  Not much else.  Reminiscent of a Canadian blend.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
Moments of lime candy and peaches in the nose now.  Barley and a sugary glaze.  The palate has a sharper bite; bitterer with more pepper.  More caramel, less malt.  Nillas.  A pre-distillate wash note appears after a few moments.  It finishes lightly sweet.  Corn syrup, wash, peppercorns, and Nillas.  A better, more herbal bitter note than the palate's.  Still sort of Canadian-ish.

This feels younger than its stated age, but not in a bad way.  The barley and blossoms and herbs and wash are a nice experience, for those of us who dig that sort of thing.  Like the 16, there's something quirky going on late in that palate, but it's less of a deal breaker here.  The nose is the best part, and if the palate had matched it, I'd happily recommend this whisky and then go find a bottle for me.  It finishes unremarkably as well, like (as I mentioned above) a Canadian blended whisky.  Because I like this flair-free presentation, I would recommend this over the 16, especially if you find it priced less than its thinner older sibling.  But overall, I think I'm done with Tomintoul for the time being.  Onto another one of the Ts...

Availability - Short supply in the US, easier to find in Europe
Pricing - $60-$80 (US), $40-$60 (Europe, minus VAT, w/o shipping)
Rating - 82