Yes, another duo from Tormore. Reflecting over 2017, it’s been a good year for independent releases from this distillery. The continuing failure of the official range to harness its full potential means we have to look elsewhere and thankfully the independent bottlers have stepped up.
Writing about Tormore for the 20th time in 12 months does seem a bit of a stretch, especially as the distillery itself doesn’t covert the marketing bull we see with so many other producers. At least this counts as another notch in the Tormore headcount as we chase down Bruichladdich to become the most reviewed distillery on Malt. Highlights this year include the Malts of Scotland 1998 Tormore, the Gordon & MacPhail 2002 Tormore and I still have the 33 year old Cadenheads bottling plus an unreleased cask sample to experience for Christmas. My treat is always Tormore.
Meanwhile, we’ll approach this review from a different angle. Lets talk about the Whiskybroker that continues to offer value releases without the excess fat of marketing, packaging or wordsmiths that ultimately push up the price. Generally if you want to purchase a Whiskybroker release you’ll have to go direct via their website. That’s a commission free link and here at Malt if there is commission to be made from such a click then we should be stating as such. However it’s struck me over the past few months that there isn’t the same candid disclosure on the interweb.
Recently I’ve read an article about the Scotch Malt Whisky Society – that are now offering commission on sales – which listed a handful of releases and generally gushed praise over each and every single bottle. The URL links on each short review to the keen eyed were being tracked. The source only stated that he or she was working with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. This is loose talk; we need to be more open and specific. I totally understand that if you state somewhere within the piece that you will receive commission from any subsequent sales then this may dampen the apparent enthusiasm on the page. Why hide or try to camouflage the truth?
Commission itself isn’t an evil commodity. For some out there it represents the opportunity to cover site hosting costs, or a bottle treat for a year of hard work online. Here at Malt, the majority of our commission revenue covers our growing hosting costs. For some recent advertisements on Facebook, the costs of re-branding Malt and some technical support, these were split equally between Mark and myself. We could go apeshit with advertisements and clickable links – we certainly receive such offers – but we’d rather be more selective with whom we work with. There’s a certain clean look to the site as you see it now. I really dislike pop-ups that litter some online pages and a screen that has more advertisements than an issue of Vogue. Not that I read the magazine, but I have flicked through it when delayed somewhere.
The element of commission can be a way of supporting your own favourite online haunts. It’s a more subtle way than say the chunky Wikipedia messages that dominate their pages at certain times of the year or the Patreon method vloggers prefer. What I do find somewhat disappointing – or alien – are the sites than seem to focus more intently on commission. Whether it’s a weekly update of new releases that are little more than a chain of clickable links. These offer no benefit to the reader other than lining the pocket of the specific list compiler. They must work, as the number of sites now adopting such a style seems to be on the increase.
Again this may be speculation on my part, but some of these exponents don’t seem to be busy from a visitor perspective or in terms of updates. After you discount the fake front of regurgitated press releases. Write. Express your interest in whisky and its discovery. Even if you’re not a confident writer, practice does improve matters; I know and remain a work in progress. Instead the most consistent update is a stream of links. Dolly websites with few visitors translates into lower hosting costs – if any depending on the URL – given my time as the artist formerly known as Whisky Rover, there were no such outgoings. In spite of the website at the time growing in popularity.
If revenues are not spent on supporting the infrastructure of a website or purchasing bottles or samples to review then where does the commission go? Has it become a front or scam for a secondary income? A few healthy clicks and purchases can unlock a decent windfall for just compiling a list of bottle releases. At least try to dress it up a little more professionally highlighting your pick of the week, or bottles of interest.
Moving back to the Whiskybroker there are thankfully no commission feeds. You pay a fair price for a whisky with a fairly mundane but informative label. The packaging is the cardboard postage box that the bottle arrives in. It sounds basic and crazy, but in today’s climate this is thoroughly refreshing. Sadly the whisky broker breed has dwindled in recent decades as the buying and selling of casks and offering bottling and warehousing facilities has become more centralised. A few years ago, I did have a chat with an independent bottler who criticised the Whiskybroker for his pricing strategy and releases that could be sold for much more. The fact that such a seller was offering value and rewarding customers rather than ramping up his profit margins seemed beside the point.
Needless to say certain releases are instant sell outs whilst others linger for a wee while. In the case of these Tormore’s only the 24 year old remains on sale. My thanks to Andy for the samples of both, being a fellow Tormore4 member, we always try to seek out whiskies from this distillery. And this bottler has given us a previous release in the form of a 29 year old Tormore from 1984, which I tracked down. Time then for 2 more Tormore!
Whiskybroker 1995 Tormore 21 year old – review
Distilled on 14th September 1995, residing in hogshead #20313 for 21 years before being bottled on 21st June 2017. An outturn of 228, bottled at 46.8% this was priced around £59 but has since sold out.
Colour: a weathered pine
On the nose: oh those characteristic Tormore fruits of apples and pears are here. A lovely arrival, a plump ripeness lacking any sour or green features. Underpinning it all is a luscious Italian lemon. Elements of marzipan and white chocolate all flow with an oily nature. Returning to the glass, vanilla nougat, traces of honey and pineapple. Water brings out more of the wood spices.
In the mouth: immediately you know this is a very good Tormore. The classical fruits come through strongly, laced in honey that injects a subtle oily aspect. Upon reflection, melon is present as are the lemons once again. The vanilla is restrained and water ushers it out more into a mix of lemonade and grapefruit, creating a thoroughly refreshing quality.
Whiskybroker 1992 Tormore 24 year old – review
Distilled on 16th November 1992, residing in hogshead #101165 for 21 years before being bottled on 21st June 2017. An outturn of 200, bottled at 47.4% this was priced around £79.50 and might still be available.
Colour: pulped apple
On the nose: not as immediate as the ’95 with the fruits. Here they are more subdued with wood spice coming through more so. Apples tick, pears again tick but more wrinkled and aged with elements of flour. There’s a putty aspect and plenty of honey with traces of cinnamon amongst the vanilla. Nicely balanced presentation. Water brings forth the fruits and icing sugar with a minty zing. I preferred it without the water added.
In the mouth: slightly less balance on the palate, the wood with its vanilla and all-spice has the edge here. An aerosol cream, honey, a sourness from green apples, ginger and milk chocolate. Water sands everything down, revealing an enjoyable oiliness on the texture and red apples with a touch of grapefruit. Pleasant.
The 21 year old is just a joy. Showcasing the delights that this distillery can offer. Yes, it lacks the depth or layers of some other whiskies I’ve had from this distillery such as the – funnily enough the same vintage – 1995 Whisky Live 19 year old release. There’s something that unites the Tormore’s from this particular year of distillation.
In comparison the 24 year old is a step down, lacking that urgency and vibrancy. Still, very enjoyable and an approachable Tormore which I’d quite happily have to hand during any evening. Both are very good value in the current market, which is exactly what you’d expect from this bottler.
Featured images credit: the Whiskybroker