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Scotch

Tomintoul Vintage Single Cask 1981

OVERALL
RATING

Whiskey Review: Tomintoul Vintage Single Cask 1981

Tasting Notes:

About:
Appearance:
Golden and a bit brassy, like autumn poplar leaves
Nose:
, Tomintoul has a serious, earthy backbone underneath its Speyside charms. While it’s not an in-your-face experience, it also offers a low-key complexity and richness worth sitting down with. Tasting Notes Appearance: Golden and a bit brassy, like autumn poplar leaves Nose: Simultaneously warm and rich, and mechanical. On one hand, lovely enticing aromas of honey, cookie, menthol, and orange blossom. On the other, suitcase, Naugahyde, and a bit of rubbery extension cord. The nose is rather closed without water: a few drops reveal bergamot, neroli, green pepper, and wet garden underneath a powdery cast that hints at struck match. Though it sounds discordant, the overall impression is very integrated and cohesive, something like tea time in the garden of the museum archives on a damp day.
Palate:
The first part of the palate is very fruity, with flavors of green apple and honeydew alongside toasted bread crust. Nutty flavors emerge in the mid-palate, more tannic than fatty, like walnut skins and toasted hazelnuts in concert with a dry citrus component – orange peel, orange oil, lemon zest. The finish is earthy with an ethereal, almost porcini-like funk to it. A bit of water amplifies the green fruit components, unveiling guava candy and kiwi. Conclusion: Gosh this was delicious – graceful, sophisticated, contained but not remote, lovable without being easy. Taste if at all possible! FINAL SCORE: 94//100
Finish:
Comments:

Tomintoul DistilleryTomintoul Vintage Single Cask 1981 (pronounced tom-in-TOWEL) is a lesser-known Speyside distillery tucked in a stunningly beautiful setting. Located on the Crown-owned Glenlivet Estate inside Cairngorms National Park, the expansive national park encompassing nearly 1,800 square miles of the Scottish highlands, Tomintoul’s namesake village is the highest-altitude community in the Highlands. When the distillery was being built in the 1960s, builders brought in two weeks’ worth of supplies at a time to hedge against delays caused by being snowed in.

Originally founded in 1964 by two Glasgow whisky merchants, Hey & Macleod and W. and S. Strong, today Tomintoul is owned by Angus Dundee Distillers, a group that also owns the Glencadam distillery. The facility is modern and productive, with two wash stills and two spirit stills able to produce about 3.3 million liters of pure alcohol each year.

Much of Tomintoul’s spirit goes to blends, though the distillery offers several age-stated single malts along with a non-age stated release called “Peaty Tang,” a fun name for a whisky and pet parakeet alike. Periodic Tomintoul special releases trickle out every now and then, including this Vintage Single Cask Release from 1981 I recently had the opportunity to try. Just 196 bottles were released in 2013; my sample was from bottle number 51 of 196.

With a tagline like “the gentle dram,” Tomintoul isn’t trying to shoulder in on the territory of peat monsters and cask-strength bourbons old enough to drive. Even the bottle has a gentle shape, with round, sloping shoulders and a warm wooden stopper that’s satisfyingly large in the palm.

Yet this whisky is no pushover. Deceptively sweet and gentle on the nose, Tomintoul has a serious, earthy backbone underneath its Speyside charms. While it’s not an in-your-face experience, it also offers a low-key complexity and richness worth sitting down with.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Golden and a bit brassy, like autumn poplar leaves

Nose: Simultaneously warm and rich, and mechanical. On one hand, lovely enticing aromas of honey, cookie, menthol, and orange blossom. On the other, suitcase, Naugahyde, and a bit of rubbery extension cord. The nose is rather closed without water: a few drops reveal bergamot, neroli, green pepper, and wet garden underneath a powdery cast that hints at struck match.

Though it sounds discordant, the overall impression is very integrated and cohesive, something like tea time in the garden of the museum archives on a damp day.

Palate: The first part of the palate is very fruity, with flavors of green apple and honeydew alongside toasted bread crust. Nutty flavors emerge in the mid-palate, more tannic than fatty, like walnut skins and toasted hazelnuts in concert with a dry citrus component – orange peel, orange oil, lemon zest.

The finish is earthy with an ethereal, almost porcini-like funk to it. A bit of water amplifies the green fruit components, unveiling guava candy and kiwi.

Conclusion:

Gosh this was delicious – graceful, sophisticated, contained but not remote, lovable without being easy. Taste if at all possible!

FINAL SCORE: 94//100 

Margarett Waterbury

Margarett Waterbury is the author of Scotch: A Complete Introduction to Scotland's Whiskies and a full-time freelance writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Whisky Advocate, Food and Wine, Spirited Magazine, Artisan Spirit, Edible Seattle, Sip Northwest, Civil Eats, Travel Oregon, Artisan Spirit, and many other publications. She is the former managing editor of Edible Portland, as well as a cofounder and former managing editor of The Whiskey Wash. In 2017, Margarett won the Alan Lodge Young Drinks Writer of the Year award. She received a fellowship for the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers in 2017 and 2019.

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