Ok people, admission time and this may come as a shock to many of you, in that I haven’t had too much Tormore this year. For one reason, or another, I’ve not pursued various bottles that have appeared on the market. And there have been a few haven’t there?
We’ve had everything from relative youngsters to a trio of 30+ year olds from Cadenhead’s. For the record neither of the 2 shop releases were much cop and the other cask only makes the odd fleeting appearance during the warehouse tour. And that’s the one which is the star of the trio; frustrating as it may seem. What I have done more than ever before, is field questions about whiskies from this distillery. My advice is always to try before you buy. I’ve highlighted in my Port Charlotte MRC review the potential for a blind spot, or personal bias when it comes to whisky. However, I’d like to think I can rise above all that shenanigans. I score everything fairly and we use our 1-10-point scale. I’ll never say this wasn’t for me or seem disappointed and then stick a 6 or 7 on the tin.
Part of Tormore’s appeal to me personally, is that nothing is guaranteed and the element of danger is tangible. The official range as it stands is pretty lacklustre and given my familiarity of all the various official Tormore’s going back into the 1970’s; I’d suggest it’s a new low. That’s just Chivas messing up another potential worthwhile distillery. I just don’t know how they do it time and time again. To find those gems you’ve got to hunt and unearth releases. I’m thankful that we’re seeing more Tormore at market nowadays but like every distillery, there is a glut of single cask releases – some clearly not worthy of the format. And there’s nothing worst than a disappointing purchase as a whisky drinker. Yes, I’ve some mundane or sadly lacking Tormore’s over the years.
Such a premise isn’t contained just to Tormore. I’ve used it for Jura (now that is the ultimate thankless task) and Bruichladdich. Even Auchentosham proves to be a tricky one to unearth potential or a memorable aspect. This is one of the many appealing aspects of whisky in my opinion. Where else can you discover and taste new delights and take a journey to the rugged environment of Scotland from the comfort of your chair?
I’m sure the Tormore 4, or 3 or 2 will regroup and explore more releases soon. I miss those guys – yes, even Mark – although how many are in our wee clan is unclear. Much like the team in the movie Armageddon, we scatter when duty no longer calls. There is a part of me that believes our work with Tormore is finally done. We’ll forever be the T4, but we’ve helped raise the profile of this distillery more than Chivas ever has. Now is the time to move onto our next mission, if we decide to accept it.
Single Cask Nation Tormore 1996 – review
Bottled in 2016 at 21 years of age from a 2nd fill bourbon barrel at 49% that gave an outturn of 156 bottles. Sample kindly provided by Rose aka From Where I Dram. This is currently available from Master of Malt for a rather expensive £109.95
Colour: Dried straw.
On the nose: Light, floral and engaging. Squashed white grapes, white chocolate, lemonade and Kendal mint cake. White pepper follows with a touch of solvent reviving memories of a column still rum alongside green apples and lemon drizzle cake. Water reveals a touch of smoke, salt and a dirty toffee note.
In the mouth: A coarse vanilla followed by grapefruit, apples and a yeasty aspect. More orchard fruits and not too much development beyond this. It does revive on the finish with wood spice and an earthy aspect, but the sense this cask was a little tired persists. Be very careful with water.
Titanial Tormore 1995 – review
Bottled in 2018 at 23 years of age from a bourbon hogshead at 51.3%. Sample kindly provided by Michael from WhiskyNews.
Colour: Peach flesh.
On the nose: A distinctive vanilla vibe that mingles well with wood spice. Familiar tones of nougat and almonds move aside for pineapple, honey and lemon peel. There’s sweetness with maple syrup and a milky coffee. A musty quality, plain scones and beyond their best apples. Adding water reveals a gentle eucalyptus and lime.
In the mouth: Elegant and satisfying, but it does lack the real fruity notes I expected. Instead, we have sawdust, caramel and bitterness from the wood. Followed by hazelnuts, a touch of soot and a chalky aspect on the finish. Water final reveals fruits from beneath the woody notes.
These are 2 solid offerings from Speyside’s most frustrating distillery. I did enjoy the mysterious cryptic presentation of the Titanial release – there’s some fun to be had deciphering all the clues. I look forward to more Titanial releases whenever possible. The Single Cask Nation has thankfully come down in price – it’s UK debut earlier this year showcased a price nearer £200, which was laughable.
I’ll leave you with this message; not all Tormore is good, or even exceptional. It is very much a minefield that we must navigate with caution. When you do hit the jackpot, such effort is well worth it and we continue to look for that whisky gold everyday.
There is a commission link within this article but as you can see, this don’t affect our judgement. Lead image kindly provided by @fromwhereidram