A Sunday morning after the night before, and the perfect
moment for a chapter of whisky reflection. It’s not too early as its just gone
past 8am, in the background there’s the satisfying ticking of clocks as each
second slips by. Outside Sutherland awaits and I can hear the activity of birds
and the occasional motorbike. A fair wind must be pushing by, as it ricochets
down the chimney and into the lounge.
Moments like this, whether its night or day are perfectly
accompanied by a dram of whisky. Unfortunately, I do not have a breakfast malt
such as Glenkinchie to hand and the remoteness of our location in ‘Boner
Bridge’ as Twitter so fondly suggests, means that driving will be on the agenda
today. A morning whisky if there was such a thing should be light, free of peat
or smoker and in harmony with a cask. Regardless of the distillery, the joy of
single casks is that even for the most mundane or disappointing producer
(insert here your nomination), for that single cask moment a wonderful harmony
could result in greatness.
Such has been our discoveries with The Tormore and the
journey through the well-supported independent sector. The official range is
static and even I’ll admit, a tad disappointing for what we realise this iconic
Speyside distillery is capable of. Official ranges are all about consistency
and providing that quality assurance to the consumer. A master blender may also
have considerations that sometimes we overlook such as stock levels, a pricing
point and a particular demographic in mind. Where Richard is directing Jura or
Fettercairn I’ll never know, perhaps Mars?
During our recent exploits, #theTormore4 had become aware of
a handful of bottlings from Speyside’s most visually arresting distillery.
One-by-one we have caught our prey, and this Tel Aviv Whisky Live 2015 bottling
was another that was consistently mentioned throughout our travels. Distilled
in 1995, as aficionados we immediately understand this first half of the 90’s
has revealed several excellent Tormore’s. Given that our Israeli friends have
mentioned this release as well, only raised this bottle to the top of our hit
For the unaware the Whisky Live events are a gathering of
producers and bottlings in a single venue to celebrate Scotland’s gift to the world.
Organised by the Whisky Magazine, these take place across the globe and spread
the gospel of aqua vitae to the masses. I’ve only ever attended a single such
event, several years ago now in Edinburgh which was more a deluxe incarnation.
The evening represented a welcome opportunity to try various whiskies and
engage in conversation, something that tends to be relegated via over
subscribed whisky festivals. Personally, I want to talk about the whisky,
distillery or related topic with the staff member. Form a appreciation of
what’s in my glass before savouring it. Nowadays, I find many events are all
about getting as loaded as possible on free whisky for your ticket price, hence
why I will mostly refrain from attending.
The passion that many enthusiasts have for whisky is
extremely humbling. In Scotland perhaps we take things for granted?
Internationally, the knowledge and dedication to whiskies and distilleries is
remarkable. Recently during a Spirit of Speyside meal, our merry band met Peter
Moser from Friends of Single Malt. Funnily enough, we then met him on several
occasions thereafter during the festival. Clearly a man of good taste when it
comes to selecting events. What became apparent during our conversation, across
a fine meal at the Dowans Hotel in Aberlour, was his passion and capturing this
interest visually with a camera. I may not reveal that I’m responsible for
Whisky Rover during such exchanges, but I just love hearing such enthusiasm for
a dram and as a resident of Scotland, I feel almost partially responsible for
ensuring Peter and anyone else, enjoys their time here.
Israeli plays host to many passionate whisky enthusiasts and
has a thriving scene of bloggers with incredible levels of knowledge. Hence why
the Whisky Live event headed to Tel Aviv, and delivered this celebration
Tormore bottling. Recently I was contacted by a new distillery in Israel, Golan
Heights, which was established in 2014 and means by Scottish rules anyway, a
single malt is just around the corner. They kindly sent over a clutch of
samples and these will be part of a larger piece shortly. I’m looking forward
to these new discoveries, but for now that moment of reflection takes
precedence for the 19-year-old Tormore.
Bottled at cask strength resulting in a 49.1% volume, this
single hogshead cask numbered 20315 was a show exclusive and an outturn of 289
bottles. You’ll most likely now see this release appearing at auction unless
you can utilise a crowbar to extract a bottle from an Israeli whisky
enthusiast. This is no easy task, as from my experience that all possess a
formidable handshake. Meanwhile, my thanks to the Thompson brothers at the
Dornoch Castle Whisky Bar for repatriating this Tormore and ticking another off
Colour: just pure gold
Nose: lovely fruity arrival, its a classic Tormore entry full of poise and elegance. Initially its ripe fruits with apples, pears and peaches, but then after time in the glass it goes all dried fruit thereby adding more depth. A slight chalky lime element, red berries and sweet cinnamon. Hints of chocolate and with water more of a buttery, oily quality followed by grilled pineapple.
Taste: A caramel presence but cutting through it is candy floss. There's also that classic sweet and sour interplay that takes me back to the early Tormore bottlings. Harmony between the spirit and the cask is evident here. It's a wonderful summer dram that doesn't need to showboat or tart itself up with marketing. I find water should be used very sparingly as there's a tautness to this whisky that should be respected. Water delivered more cream a touch of peppermint.
Overall: another Tormore winner and just underlines what this distillery can produce. Sadly its only cultivated successfully by the independent sector, as Chivas just don't seem able to capture the essence of what makes Tormore great.
Labels: featured, tormore, Whisky Live