A Sunday morning after the night before, and the perfect moment for a chapter of whisky reflection. It’s not too early as its just gone past 8am, in the background there’s the satisfying ticking of clocks as each second slips by. Outside Sutherland awaits and I can hear the activity of birds and the occasional motorbike. A fair wind must be pushing by, as it ricochets down the chimney and into the lounge.
Moments like this, whether its night or day are perfectly accompanied by a dram of whisky. Unfortunately, I do not have a breakfast malt such as Glenkinchie to hand and the remoteness of our location in ‘Boner Bridge’ as Twitter so fondly suggests, means that driving will be on the agenda today. A morning whisky if there was such a thing should be light, free of peat or smoker and in harmony with a cask. Regardless of the distillery, the joy of single casks is that even for the most mundane or disappointing producer (insert here your nomination), for that single cask moment a wonderful harmony could result in greatness.
Such has been our discoveries with The Tormore and the journey through the well-supported independent sector. The official range is static and even I’ll admit, a tad disappointing for what we realise this iconic Speyside distillery is capable of. Official ranges are all about consistency and providing that quality assurance to the consumer. A master blender may also have considerations that sometimes we overlook such as stock levels, a pricing point and a particular demographic in mind. Where Richard is directing Jura or Fettercairn I’ll never know, perhaps Mars?
During our recent exploits, #theTormore4 had become aware of a handful of bottlings from Speyside’s most visually arresting distillery. One-by-one we have caught our prey, and this Tel Aviv Whisky Live 2015 bottling was another that was consistently mentioned throughout our travels. Distilled in 1995, as aficionados we immediately understand this first half of the 90’s has revealed several excellent Tormore’s. Given that our Israeli friends have mentioned this release as well, only raised this bottle to the top of our hit list.
For the unaware the Whisky Live events are a gathering of producers and bottlings in a single venue to celebrate Scotland’s gift to the world. Organised by the Whisky Magazine, these take place across the globe and spread the gospel of aqua vitae to the masses. I’ve only ever attended a single such event, several years ago now in Edinburgh which was more a deluxe incarnation. The evening represented a welcome opportunity to try various whiskies and engage in conversation, something that tends to be relegated via over subscribed whisky festivals. Personally, I want to talk about the whisky, distillery or related topic with the staff member. Form a appreciation of what’s in my glass before savouring it. Nowadays, I find many events are all about getting as loaded as possible on free whisky for your ticket price, hence why I will mostly refrain from attending.
The passion that many enthusiasts have for whisky is extremely humbling. In Scotland perhaps we take things for granted? Internationally, the knowledge and dedication to whiskies and distilleries is remarkable. Recently during a Spirit of Speyside meal, our merry band met Peter Moser from Friends of Single Malt. Funnily enough, we then met him on several occasions thereafter during the festival. Clearly a man of good taste when it comes to selecting events. What became apparent during our conversation, across a fine meal at the Dowans Hotel in Aberlour, was his passion and capturing this interest visually with a camera. I may not reveal that I’m responsible for Whisky Rover during such exchanges, but I just love hearing such enthusiasm for a dram and as a resident of Scotland, I feel almost partially responsible for ensuring Peter and anyone else, enjoys their time here.
Israeli plays host to many passionate whisky enthusiasts and has a thriving scene of bloggers with incredible levels of knowledge. Hence why the Whisky Live event headed to Tel Aviv, and delivered this celebration Tormore bottling. Recently I was contacted by a new distillery in Israel, Golan Heights, which was established in 2014 and means by Scottish rules anyway, a single malt is just around the corner. They kindly sent over a clutch of samples and these will be part of a larger piece shortly. I’m looking forward to these new discoveries, but for now that moment of reflection takes precedence for the 19-year-old Tormore.
Bottled at cask strength resulting in a 49.1% volume, this single hogshead cask numbered 20315 was a show exclusive and an outturn of 289 bottles. You’ll most likely now see this release appearing at auction unless you can utilise a crowbar to extract a bottle from an Israeli whisky enthusiast. This is no easy task, as from my experience that all possess a formidable handshake. Meanwhile, my thanks to the Thompson brothers at the Dornoch Castle Whisky Bar for repatriating this Tormore and ticking another off the list.
Tormore 1995 Whisky Live Review
Colour: just pure gold
On the nose: lovely fruity arrival, its a classic Tormore entry full of poise and elegance. Initially its ripe fruits with apples, pears and peaches, but then after time in the glass it goes all dried fruit thereby adding more depth. A slight chalky lime element, red berries and sweet cinnamon. Hints of chocolate and with water more of a buttery, oily quality followed by grilled pineapple.
In the mouth: A caramel presence but cutting through it is candy floss. There’s also that classic sweet and sour interplay that takes me back to the early Tormore bottlings. Harmony between the spirit and the cask is evident here. It’s a wonderful summer dram that doesn’t need to showboat or tart itself up with marketing. I find water should be used very sparingly as there’s a tautness to this whisky that should be respected. Water delivered more cream a touch of peppermint.
Another Tormore winner and just underlines what this distillery can produce. Sadly its only cultivated successfully by the independent sector, as Chivas just don’t seem able to capture the essence of what makes Tormore great.