Review: Tomintoul 25 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
25 Years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Tomintoul (Ballindaloch, Scotland)

I got a small sample bottle of this which was part of a duty free sample pack that really didn’t set me back too much. For this bottling, only casks which display floral and fruity characteristics were selected.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2014

Nose: Brilliant integration of the mighty three in this – malt, filtered apple juice, and oak. It’s lightly dry and sour and still has some of that harshness or sharpness found in the other Tomintouls (such as the 10 and 16 year old) on the nose. The oak isn’t too strong, and this can be seen in the colour easily enough. If we take a step back from the big three, there is some generous vanilla, a dirty earthiness, dried apricot, and a light menthol feel. With some time the texture of the nose seems to develop, feeling more weighty and thick and creamy. There’s also a bit of a funny meaty aroma which I’m not too keen on…this knocks it back a bit.

Taste: Lots and lots of white raisins, through and through, before some clean malt tries to take some of the reins…after that, the raisin takes over again with a touch of earthiness before some spices take the rest. Different than the nose – the apple is largely not present, but there are glimpses of orange and toffee. It’s nicely woven together, and works well to slow you in your tracks a bit.

Finish: Lots of malt, with touches of some clove, earthiness, and then some green apple skin and white grape. Enduring, and enjoyable – eventually some oak and nuttiness sets in too. It coats the mouth really well, with good flavour – it makes me think this would be a brilliant malt with a cigar (you’d need a good one if you’re gonna drink this with it!).

This is very nicely crafted together – the nose, taste, and finish all do their work very well. For a 25 year old malt, it’s a bit simple – but it’s good. The only knack I really have with it is the bit of weird meatiness on the nose – but that’s not too overt.

Score: 89/100

Value: 0/100 (based on $335)


Review: Tomintoul 16 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
16 Years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Tomintoul (Ballindaloch, Scotland)

Tomintoul, a Speyside distillery, largely produces whisky for blended whisky, but also has a number of offerings of single malt. They are also in the Guinness book of world records for producing the largest bottle of whisky in the world, which contained over 105 litres of 14 year old whisky in 2009! This was subsequently beaten by Jack Daniel‘s, and now the Famous Grouse (with a 228 litre bottle).


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Nose: Immediately deeper and richer than the 10 year old. Vanilla, coconut, dried fruit, and rich malt and some black pepper and earthiness. Like the 10 year old, still a bit hot on the nose but not as much. A lot more complexity in this one, with quite a bit going on. In the background, light lemon, Some other light fruitiness that I can’t quite pin down. Apricot and the lightest creaminess.

Taste: Quite malty, with a fair bit of pear and vanilla and caramel. Nicely balanced with some sherry influence. Nice earth notes in this, with some citrus and oak and a bit of nuttiness in balance. Sweetness level is quite nice for balance.

Finish: Light and earthy, with some vanilla, apple skin and seed. Good earthiness too. The barley lingers well.

Conclusion: Lots of grain, and not overly sweet so it accentuates the grain in a nice way and not one that is typical. There is some wonderful dark earthiness to this, which, if you know me, I like.

Score: 84/100

Value: 47/100 (based on $76)


Review: Tomintoul 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
10 Years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Tomintoul (Ballindaloch, Scotland)

On Tomintoul whiskies, they often brag about their water – it is (slightly) more than a marketing ploy – they did look for nearly an entire year before they found the Ballantruan spring, the water source for the distillery. The distillery is named after the highest village in the Scottish whisky region of Speyside, which the distillery is close to.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Nose: Light, slightly sour, dried apricot, and a bit oily, and floral, still smelling a bit raw/young, even at 10 years old. Lots of barley! Grainy apple too, hazelnut, black pepper, and as it opens up it starts to take on a bit more of a floral character, which is quite nice. I find to really get all the flavour present in the nose that it is quite hot in my nose and I can’t really breathe it in the way I usually like to which detracts.

Taste: Malty, with pear and raisin- without a lot of sweetness giving it a bit of a savoury appeal like a dry white wine (this is an analogy, rather than actual flavour).

Finish: Nice barley presentation, with some nice hot white pepper, caramel, raisin, and eventually some barley earthiness and apple-seed-like notes in fino sherry. Afterward, a bit dry.

This has some good elements, but lacks a lot of intrigue for me – it’s a bit plain. A solid malt and barley background, but there’s not a lot of complex integration with any other components.

Score: 80/100

Value: 33/100 (based on $76)


Review: Mortlach 23 Year Old 1991 Single Malt Scotch Whisky (MacKillop's Choice) by Jason Hambrey

ABV
56.6%
Aging
23 Years; Sherry Cask
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Mortlach (Keith, Scotland)

Often the best whiskies from a distilllery come not as part of official bottlings from the distillery but rather from independent bottlers who buy distillate or barrels, and then age and release them. This is true often particularly for distilleries which often produce for blends, and Mortlach is one of those distilleries with magnificent independent bottlings (even, at one time, a 70 year old released by Gordon & MacPhail!).


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Cask 5887, distilled 1991
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2014

Terrific woody nose, as one might expect after 23 years. Lots of brilliant spice – clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and very nice clean sherry with all the wonderful nuttiness and dried fruit that comes in. Absolutely phenomenal complexity - candied fruit (orange and cherry), apple seeds, vanilla bean, shortcake dough, custard, and some apple lifts it all up to as it plays about above all the deeper notes on the nose. And, amidst all of this, the barley comes through and isn’t lost. I could keep going…all of that comes out more easily with some water. At full strength the oiliness of the whisky comes through, and everything is presented in more of a dense fashion, particularly the spice and the oak.

The palate reveals a lot more earthiness coming from the grain than seen on the nose, and the tongue is massaged with the feel of the whisky and the gentle vanilla (perhaps a bit too poetic…but this is sensational in the mouth). Very light peat is present, and it blends in brilliantly. In drinking at 46%, it is much of a lighter dram – at cask strength it is quite a bit heavier, but not overpowering by any means. The earthiness, the sherry, dark chocolate, and the peat all find a different balance – but the malt is still terrific in a different sort of way. It shows the quality of the dram.

Apple, oak, spices, and raisin hold the finish. Tannins build and pleasantly find their place as well.

Rare old doesn’t hold up a finger to this…

Overall: 92/100

Value: 0/100 (based on $327)


Review: Mortlach Rare Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43.4%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Mortlach (Keith, Scotland)

Mortlach is a distillery which largely feeds blends for Diageo, and older bottlings of this single malt have achieved cult status. This whisky was released in 2013 as part of the continuing move of many distilleries toward trying to promote Scotch Whisky as a "luxury brand". At the same time, Diageo invested a huge chunk of money into the distillery and promoting the brand. A lot of the older, age statement brands were replaced with more expensive versions in nice packages - as Serge Valentin said: "I guess this means that a large chunk of that money will be spent on advertising and PR, and not on improving (or even maintaining) the quality of the whisky. So, more brand, less product..."

This is happening with a few Scotch brands - I don't love the move.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L4147DM000 02891663
  • Bottling Date: 2014

This has a complexity and uniqueness that i quite love....a bit dry and spicy, with raisins, honey, sharp apple, black pepper, and barley intermingled in as well (and, on the finish, the malt goes almost the way of a stout). Really nice subtle smoke too - though I think this would be much better at a slightly higher proof, since a light amping up of flavours would do this some good. More subtle than I expected – “the beast of Dufftown” in this case is more of a small beast. It’s not too dry – but it is just about right in my books.

Opinions seem quite mixed on this one, not sure if that is due to preference or batches.

Overall: 88/100

Value: 54/100 (based on $100)


Review: Talisker 57 Degrees North Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
57%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Talisker (Carbost, Scotland)

A non-age-statement, but cask strength, Talisker which has a great reputation in my circle of friends. It is expensive in Ontario ($175 when you can find it) but I once found it in the Toronto airport for $75, which is where I obtained this bottle. I think they just forgot the leading "1" since I haven't seen it that cheap anywhere else - I am happy for the mistake.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L2290CM000 05954480
  • Bottling Date: ~2012

Ash, peaches, custard, slightly spicy. Wood smoke, pears, lemon, peat, mineral character – quite bright with all of the stone fruit though. Dried apricot, gooseberries, vanilla – quite zesty.

The palate is sweet, with quite a big, fairly sweet, body – particularly with water. Tinned peaches, smoke, mint, thick vegetation (i.e. peat), sharp earthiness – certainly big on the palate. It is a touch young for my liking – but it’s on the edge. Certainly an interesting contrast of all that fruitiness and the mineral peat. Oh, and it’s also reasonably creamy. Nice balance.

A drying finishes with clove, black pepper, prunes, tannins, and more mineral character. A terrific malt, but certainly overpriced – well, in Canada, I suppose, where it goes for about twice the price of the 10 Y.O.

Score: 87/100

Value: 6/100 (based on $175)


Review: Talisker Distiller's Edition Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Talisker Distiller's Edition 2.jpg
ABV
45.8%
Aging
11 Years; Ex-bourbon finished in Amaroso Sherry Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Talisker (Carbost, Scotland)

This is similar to the standard Talisker 10, but with a finishing period in Amaroso Sherry Casks - similar to Oloroso but sweeter - providing another different look at the spirit of Talisker.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L4266C2000 07011707
  • Bottling Date: 2014

Creamy almond strikes me at first - but with many other things at play: smoke (of course!), vanilla, gooseberries, white grape, sultana raisins, cooked apples, cinnamon, and the lightest touch of sherry in the background – though I’m not sure I would have noticed it if I hadn’t gone looking for it. The light tannins balance out this whisky well and provide a lot more nice structure to the whisky. A good bit of complexity and subtlety playing into the mix for this one. The finish comes out with a fair bit of creaminess which fits well into all the subtlety, yet it is still a bit dry…very nice.

Score: 87/100

Value: 31/100 (based on $120)


Review: Talisker Port Rhuige Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
45.8%
Aging
Finished in Port Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Talisker (Carbost, Scotland)

I quite like port matured or port finished whiskies, and it isn't as common to see port finished peaty whisky. This was released alongside Talisker Storm and Dark Storm as a set of three NAS Taliskers in 2013, and was the most expensive of the bunch...but my favorite.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L4184CM000 0357286
  • Bottling Date: 2014

Vanilla, rancio, almond, cacao - the port fits in well, but doesn’t overtake everything else. On the palate – things are wonderfully balanced. The fruitiness of the port offsets the smoke and spice, and the rancio plays wonderfully with the wood and the smoke as well. On the end, dried leaves, light creaminess, a touch of malt, dried apple…I imaged this would be one of my least-favorite Taliskers but I was very wrong. Also nearly the unanimous favorite Talisker of the lineup of all 5 core expressions when I did a tasting of them with some friends in January of 2016.

Score: 88/100

Value: 46/100 (based on $110)


Review: Talisker Dark Storm Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Talisker Dark Storm.jpg
ABV
45.8%
Aging
Heavily Charred Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Talisker (Carbost, Scotland)

This whisky, released alongside Talisker Storm, uses heavily charred casks for its maturation - not the usual choice of cask for Scotch, but rather for American Whisky.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L4197CM000 04053962
  • Bottling Date: 2014

The interplay of the peat and smoky oak is quite intriguing to me, and brings forth quite a bit of vanilla, maple, and caramel in the mix - I am not sure if I like that part. Some dried staff here - dried apricot, dried hibiscus, and some prunes. On the palate, it shows more sharpness than many Taliskers, and fairly sweet and juicy - there is one part where the ashy smoke has some wonderful wood integration, but it is still a bit flat overall with a touch of saccharin on the finish. Light creaminess comes through on the finish, with some fresh apricot, dark chocolate, and a bit of grape alongside the clove, smoke, and pepper. Not sure if maple and caramel make this “dark”….but the caramel seems to take a bigger role as the peat fades in the bottle.

Score: 86/100

Value: 56/100 (based on $81)


Review: Talisker Storm Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
45.8%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Talisker (Carbost, Scotland)

One of the big non-age-statement releases back when they were just beginning - Talisker ventured there with this, Dark Storm, and Port Rhuige. This cost the same as the 10, but no guarantee on its age (not everything, but it is something). I guess it rests on the taste:


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L4078CM000 01613047
  • Bottling Date: 2014

Almost a bit sour with some of the younger whisky coming out a bit too much – to me, it tastes the youngest of the regular Taliskers. I am generally not a huge fan of the new make harsh and oily sourness, but this one is integrated very nicely together to bring a large amount of complexity forward. The grain plays through a bit - certainly seems more complex than the 10 year old, but less deep. Plums, peaches, roasted peanuts, uncooked bacon, and some pretty fragile smoke and ash woven throughout. The finish is quite complex with a fruity body and smoke and the lightest spearmint. Overall, it would do a lot better for me if there was a bit more maturity to a few of the components, but this is wonderfully blended stuff nonetheless – the complexity and balance weight-for-weight of the fruit and the smoke, the sweetness and the spice is quite worthy of appreciation.

Score: 87/100

Value: 47/100 (based on $100)