For this next review I will be looking at a whisky I have never tried before, and most people have never tried or heard of, as there have been very few bottlings from this distillery indeed. It is a Speyside distillery and like so many of them most of its output is blended into obscurity, with it only being bottled as special releases, there was a 14yo released a few years ago but it is still a rarity to find this malt. The whisky we will be trying today comes from the beautiful Tormore distillery, and is one of Chivas’ Cask Strength Edition releases.
Tormore distillery was built in 1958, and was one of the several that were built at this time in order to quench the whisky boom which occurred post World War 2. It is a most beautiful distillery, designed by Sir Albert Richardson, and is commonly known as the ‘Pearl of Speyside’. As I said this whisky is rarely put into a bottle as a malt, and what is is of very limited release, which is surprising as the distillery has an annual output of around 4.4 million litres – most of the output being pumped into producing the Long John blend – the likely reason for this is that the light and floral style of Tormore makes it very popular with blenders and so it is held in high demand. The sample that I have, given to me by a friend, is from batch TM 15 001 i.e. the first batch of Tormore 15yo. Distilled on the 20th of July 1998 and bottled on the 19th of June 2014 – so just a bit shy of being 16 – it is presented at a very respectable 57.4% ABV and is natural colour and Unchillfiltered. There is no cask information given on the bottle, and my research found nothing, but I would have to guess because of the style of the dram that it has certainly been matured in refill casks, most likely Hogsheads. Anyway, introductions aside, let’s get down to the good bit.
This is a very very interesting whisky; it is so light on the nose even being at cask strength. The aromas that come through at first are very soft and subtle, making for an interesting bouquet. There are a lot of soft fruits on the nose here, as my friend Jonathan said when he gave me this sample this whisky is just full of gooseberries, and I have to say I whole heartedly agree with him. This dram reminds me a lot of when I was younger – well before my whisky days – when I would go with my parents and siblings down to the river to pick plums. Where I live there are lots of wild yellow plum trees, and each summer we would go and pick them and we would make them into jam, this whisky smells exactly like that to me, yellow plum jam, and it is absolutely fantastic. There are also fresh apricots and a subtle caramel/white chocolate sweetness, kind of like a Caramac bar. Fresh acidity from the casks almost like pine needles, light malt, fresh almonds and coconut water. With time in the glass more flavours begin to come through, soft vanilla fudge, crisp red apples and raspberries. There is also a sort of peat-like smell, not burning smoky peat though; it’s more like damp, wet, vegetal peat right at the back of the nose.
The palate is very rich and sweet, far more intense than on the nose. Again that yellow plum jam is coming on strongly for me. There is a lot more citrus fruits coming through now with grapefruit and sweet clementine’s. There is a lot of spice on the palate too, hot km pepper spice coming forth with drying nutmeg and a slight hint of creamy vanilla custard. And a good dose of alcohol as you would expect being at cask strength. I wasn’t sure about adding water to this as it is so light in character but I opted to give it a go in the end, and I think it was for the good, if anything I think it’s made it more prominent on the palate. Through the development and almost smoke like note develops, I think probably from cask charring as I don’t believe they use peat at Tormore, though it is not a hugely prominent smokiness.
The finish is fairly long, I’d say medium in length but it is fairly nondescript, it’s just warming alcohol and woodiness. It’s full of drying wood, with big tannic notes, nutmeg and again vanilla, this time more like dried vanilla pods, and notes of sweet malt.
Well, there we have it folks. Another whisky, another review written, I must say that I am pretty sad that I only have a small sample of this and not a bottle as this whisky is such a delight. It definitely won’t be to everyone’s palate; if you like your big heavy melt-your-face-off peated drams then I doubt this will be to your taste. This is a light, floral and extremely elegant whisky which has a lot of character to it, you just have to go and find it as it is quite a subtle dram. You can still get a bottle of this, I’ve seen it on Master of Malt for around £50 – as a 50cl bottle – but being a batch bottling the numbers will be limited, I would certainly have to recommend this dram to those who don’t like the big smoky whiskies and prefer those of a softer style. This dram just screams of subtle delicacy and elegant beauty and it is a really nice drinking whisky. Thank you so much to Jonathan or the sample!