Nose: Granny Smith apples, well-ripe pears, pie crust, brown sugar, and just the faintest trace of nail polish.
Palate: Stewed apples and pairs with cloves, roasted almonds, and just a touch of cinnamon. The lightest hint of something creamy – like the foam from a cappuccino hanging around the edges.
Mouthfeel: Lusciously thick and velvety. Viscous, but slightly dry. Just a feather-light touch of heat.
Finish: The stewed apples from the palate leave quickly, but the stewed pears with cloves hang around for an eternity. The touch of cinnamon is still there – and brings with it a lasting warmth on the tongue. The cappuccino foam has turned properly creamy now – becoming a coffee cream that is very light on the coffee.
A Speyside single malt matured in ex-Bourbon barrels, and bottled at 40% with colouring. Not normally a description of a whisky that I would pay a lot of attention, nor expect great things from; and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting great things from this whisky before I tried it – the words “the gentle dram” on the label didn’t raise my expectations either. Talk about having some misconceptions about the quality of the whisky! I really think I’d have been better coming to this whisky blind, and not having any expectations before the first sniff.
This whisky has a strength that is unexpected from it’s whisky-minimum ABV of 40%; without having read the bottle, I would have guessed and ABV of somewhere around 43-46% – it’s a beautifully thick whisky with just the gentlest prickling of heat on the tongue. They may call this the gentle dram, which it certainly is – there’s no sharp edges anywhere; just wave upon wave of rich thick gooey softness. It kind of reminds me of Baymax in the movie Big Hero 6 – soft round cuddliness that hides an incredibly strong core.
Tomintoul is a fairly young distillery, having been established in 1964; and is a pretty small distillery by Scottish standards, with only 4 steam-heated stills in total – 2 wash stills, and 2 spirit stills. They produce both peated, and unpeated single malt whiskies – with the unpeated whiskies like this one released under the Tomintoul brand, and peated whiskies released under the Old Ballantruan brand. For a small bit of trivia, Tomintoul is listed in the Guinness book of records for producing the largest ever bottle of whisky in the world – at 105.3 litres.
This 16 year old expression has won itself a whole swag of awards from around the place, and received a well deserved score of 94.5 from the man in the panama hat in 2012. I have a feeling this whisky is going to regularly find its way into my whisky cabinet. It really would be a thing of beauty if Tomintoul released this at somewhere around 50% ABV.