Let’s do the Tormore again. Since starting this unofficial effort to highlight an overlooked distillery the reviews have come thick and fast. Several by perseverance and others thanks to the generosity of friends and fellow enthusiasts. We’ve gone Tormore daft at Malt in 2017 and it looks like its continuing into 2018.
Standing in a bar recently somewhere in Rotterdam on the eve of the Whiskybase Gathering event, an enthusiast asked me why Tormore? The simple answer is why not? For every Ardbeg, Highland Park or Macallan there are another 10-15 distilleries who remain overlooked. With new independent bottlers coming out of the woodwork every month or so, bottlings from a huge assortment of distilleries are on the market. Yes, some will be average, overpriced – insert Mark’s repetitive rant about independent bottlers using poor casks here – or poorly conceived when they reach the retail realm.
It’s a bountiful period for enthusiasts who have stepped away from official releases that are over-engineered by master blenders or lack the core fundamentals we’d like to see at Malt. Namely a higher strength, natural colour, no chill filtration and details. The devil is in the detail. Would you expect someone to walk into a shop and purchase a box containing something with next to no details provided? Funnily enough the whisky industry would. Our hope is that as consumers become more experienced and educated – yes even the millennials – they’ll demand more and expect an honest and informative presentation.
By misfortune or some strange coincidence I seem to have become a Tormore expert. Certainly when Cadenhead’s released the 33 year old we’re reviewing here. Several enquiries were made as to what I thought of it and generally of Tormore’s from this period. Unfortunately, its taken far too long I know to get around to reviewing this release which has surprised quite a few. However we’re giving you a trio of Tormore reviews here with 2 Douglas Laing releases thanks to samples provided by David. All of these add up and eventually Tormore will be the most reviewed whisky here at malt – insert evil laugh – who would have thought it?
It’s extremely rare to see a Tormore in its 3rd decade of maturation. Recently I reviewed a gorgeous 28 year old Tormore from Hunter Laing and then the 28 year old from Malts of Scotland, which was also delicious. In fact, this Cadenhead Tormore could potentially be the oldest we’ve seen bottled for this distillery period. I certainly cannot think of another with the previous oldest also coming from Cadenheads at 30 years of age and likely to be from the same batch of casks.
Douglas Laing Provenance 1993 Tormore – review
Distilled October 1993, bottled September 2004 at the standard 46% strength for this range and 10 years of age. It’s a vatting of 3 casks (DMG1331-1333) and gives us a good starting benchmark.
Colour: oat biscuits.
On the nose: a slow fruit arrival with white grapes, pears and sliced apples. A little bit of cinnamon, white chocolate, caramel, barley sweets and cider vinegar give us a refreshing easy introduction.
In the mouth: again, it’s the delightful fruits that deliver. Pears with apples and grapes come through strongly as does a touch of greenness towards the end with Kiwi fruit. The finish is very drying with elements of grapefruit and sweet cinnamon.
Douglas Laing Old Particular 1995 Tormore – review
Distilled in June 1995, bottled September 2013 at 18 years of age. This comes from a sherry finished cask – DL10053 – resulting in 277 bottles at 48.4% strength.
Colour: apricot jam.
On the nose: orange marmalade and plump cherries. Rolled tobacco and an abundance of sweetness. Oat biscuits, Highland toffee, heather, cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of basil. There surprisingly a touch of smoke with honey glazed ham followed by milk chocolate.
In the mouth: lots of toffee, honey and an ashy characteristic on the finish. Orange peel, walnuts and a very drying main body. Vanilla essence, dark chocolate, cardamon, strawberry and roasted coffee beans all follow on repeat visits.
Cadenhead’s 1984 Tormore – review
Distilled in 1984 before being bottled in 2017 at a mighty 33 years of age. Just 132 bottles came from the ex-bourbon barrel at 51.7% strength. This was around £165 upon release.
Colour: a golden sunset.
On the nose: a seriously funky nose with caramel and apples magnified with layers of marzipan and cinnamon. Milk chocolate, posh nuts and the sharpness of raspberries cutting through these aromas. Beeswax adds a varnish quality and salted caramel wafers.
In the mouth: it almost has that old school whisky taste. The harmony with the wood – cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg and black pepper – unleashed a spasm of oak flavours but also chocolate, pineapple cubes and classic Tormore fruits of apples with a buttery texture, then hazelnuts. Towards the end rolled tobacco comes through with more cinder toffee.
The Provenance is an ideal introduction to the delights of Tormore. Certainly, one of the better releases I’ve had from this range that represents the entry value level for Douglas Laing. I was excited to try the Old Particular as this heralds from its classic 1995 vintage. There’s something about Tormore’s from this year that just delivers. However, it felt more cask than anything and the fruits I associate had been overridden. Whereas the cask on the Cadenhead bottling was truly active and in harmony. Worth every penny if you can still find it and hopefully a few more converts to the Tormore cause.