I was quite happy to see a bottle from distillery 105, in the latest SMWS outturn, having purchased a few other expressions when up at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society Leith Vaults, some 18 months ago – how time flies. As a regular drinker of number 105, I’m forever actively seeking out older expressions from other markets and outlets.
But to be totally frank, I was somewhat disturbed by the bottle description ITALIAN FAKE! With the accompanying notes on the label: the Distillery goes undercover, incognito and in disguise. Dodgy Mediterranean accents; shady herbal sunglasses; malty moustaches twitching. What!! What the Fake is going on more like? I would love to know the thinking behind this, it’s an absolute insult to the distillery in my opinion. Did anyone at the SMWS actually try the whisky before coming up with such a ridiculous description? In reality, it tells you nothing about the contents whatsoever.
Yes, its Tormore, if you didn’t recognise, which distillery is 105 behind the SMWS numbering system. In my opinion, one of the most beautiful distilleries on Speyside.
The title of this release, ITALIAN FAKE!, will to anyone in the whisky industry, send shivers down the spine, as it brought me out in a cold sweat. I still get PTSD from when I purchased 2 bottles at auction, only to be told a couple of years later that they were fake and 5 grand was at stake. It’s a fakein disgrace, how dare they call my beloved Tormore a FAKE!!
Built in 1958, Tormore is a fairly young distillery, but where age is lacking, architecturally it is a masterpiece. Underlined by the fact that in 1986, the distillery was granted listed building status, despite at the time, being only 30 years old.
Designed by Sir Albert Richardson, he was noted for his neoclassicism approach, mixed with modernism. For his work at Tormore, he was awarded a gold medal. The current custodians of this design marvel are Pernod Ricard and I have to say, they are doing a splendid job in maintaining its splendour. As the first distillery that many pass venturing into the Speyside region, or even the last you see depending on your direction, Tormore is a memorable representative for the region. It doesn’t for instance, hide under a hillside. It is a proud and one-off feat of design and distilling. And we’re not just talking about the distillery, but the cottages, outer buildings and ornate grounds that surround it.
On a personal note, I’ve been fortunate enough to have stayed at the Tormore cottages on a number of occasions, especially with the Tormore 4. And I never tire of the beautifully designed gardens around the distillery with manicured lawns and the stream running alongside, makes for an atmospheric place of peace and tranquillity with a dram in hand and a time to reflect. For me, it’s the perfect gateway to speyside.
So, back to the actual bottle that prompted this return to Tormore in the form of ITALIAN FAKE! My hand trembles just typing those words with annoyance. This is society cask number 105.27, with an outturn of 205 from a single cask, bottled at a robust 63.7% strength. Distilled in 2012, fully matured in a second fill ex-bourbon cask and bottled at 7 years old with an asking price of £44.80. Let’s see what this delivers.
SMWS 105.27 Italian Fake! – review
Colour: Very light amber.
On the nose: Vanilla, hints of pepper mint green grapes, oat cakes, a little earthy Herbal, but not giving a lot away really despite some effort and a few drams. I did wonder if I should be getting spaghetti and meat balls, or even a calzone, or maybe tiramisu, but this is about as Italian as haggis, neeps and tatties washed down with a can of Irn Bru.
In the mouth: Firstly, far too much ABV for me at 63.7%. Beyond this, there is citrus, fiery it must be said and a little oil. Slightly bitter stewed dark fruits, but I’m not really enjoying this expression. Adding water via a pipette makes things a little easier to drink, but it just doesn’t give a lot more in terms of flavour. I do struggle to see what the point of bottling this 7-year-old in second fill bourbon, as its barely touched the side of the cask.
Where do I start with this? As you’ll understand already, the name is an insult. When the distillery goes undercover, it doesn’t taste like Tormore. Incognito and in disguise, it doesn’t taste like Tormore. Dodgy Mediterranean accents, it doesn’t talk Tormore to me. Shady Herbal Sunglasses, yeah, I didn’t see this coming. Malty Moustaches Twitching, yeah, its got mine going.
Overall, dreadful, if I had spent more on this release, I would really have a meltdown. It smacks of scrapping the barrel and a bottler that doesn’t have much inventory.