I recently had the privilege of tasting through a full line of single-malt scotch whiskies from
Tomintoul, all of which reflected different ages, aging methods, and other variables.
Tomintoul is located in the southern reaches of the swath of scotch-producing country known
as Speyside. The distillery's motto is “The Gentle Dram” and indeed it fits. Tomintoul's
Robert Fleming is a fifth generation master distiller. The result is truly artful and highly
civilized. All these whiskies but one are unpeated.
I began my journey with the Tomintoul 10, available here for between $40 and $55. In the
United States, 12 years seems to be our excitement point, but the 10 brought fine rewards: a
lovely pale gold color, a soft, gentle nose with toffee, stewed fruit and hazelnut, a little spice,
perfume with some malt on the palate. This is relatively light-bodied whisky to match the
gentleness of the flavor profile but there is nothing metaphorically lightweight about it; the
finish is long and pleasantly grassy.
Tomintoul does produce a 12 year old, part of which which they age 18 months in used
Oloroso sherry casks. You will pay about $80 for this fine scotch. An inviting amber/gold,
the nose brings across just enough of the sherry richness to interest but not enough to
overwhelm; it brought also a light cedar element, with clean malt and some fresh herb. The
palate—smooth as silk—brings malt and wild berry fruit. The finish is gentle and long. From
initial attack to mid-palate to finish, very clean yet complex.
The Tomintoul 16 is a mainstream amber. The nose laces malt with bread with hazelnut and
caramel; nothing in excess and beautifully balanced. The palate is soft, initially tinged orange
blossom sweet, but then it opens up with distinct baking spice, nutmeg and butterscotch (as
the payoff for the nose's caramel). Sweet oak leads on the long spice-enriched finish. You
will pay $45 to $65.
The Tomintoul 27 will set you back between $200 and $250 (although I believe this is a set
back that can actually advance the interests of a scotch-lover). Deep amber. The nose
is toffee sweet with dried fruit, vanilla and some distinct oak. The palate is a confection of
orange peel, toffee, vanilla, smoky here, sweet there, capricious in the best sense of the term.
In the mouth, the 27 is rich and round, with a full-flavored and patient finish that ends quite
dry, with a final coda of smoke.
The Tomintoul 31 will launch you beyond the $400 level, but you will feel the warmth of
patriotic pride knowing that much of this whisky is bourbon cask matured. Gold ingot in
color. Two major elements stand out on the nose for me: a rich rancio toffee-like note that
brings the distinctness of a Hungarian Tokaji, almost with a botrytis element, and a
multi-layered smokiness I likened to the deep smoke of a kippered herring shed. The nose
also has cream, vanilla, heather and wild mountain berries; these come sequentially, allowing
you to nose this marvel for a good ten minutes (which tends to protect your investment). The
mouth-filling palate has spice, oak, vanilla, dried mountain herb and a smokiness that places
you rather further away from the herring curing shack. The finish is rich and offers a mature
yet ardent touch of the charred insides of those bourbon casks. These are but words of course;
the 31 has its own vocabulary. If you do encounter this whisky, give the nose plenty of
The Tomintoul Peated—$40-$55—has no age statement. A nice sparkling gold, the major note
at all levels is of course peat, and yet this is subtle peat. Sweet fruit, spice and earthy
smokiness greet the nose. Medium-bodied. The palate adds a fine touch of chocolate covered
hazelnut with some citrus. The finish, as one could imagine, is an affair of lingering peat, yet
it also has some satisfying dried fruit, dried flower elements and more of the citrus. It is a
mistake to liken this whisky to its Islay “brothers-in-peat” since, despite significantly different
flavor elements to the other Tomintoul offerings, it shares that “Gentle Dram” quality. I guess
you've figured out by now that I like the Tomintoul line.
A rich array