The last time I tasted two reasonably old indie Inchgowers from the 1980s. Today, two very old indie Tomintouls from the 1960s. One from the new Dutch bottler, Kintra Whisky, and one from the famous Italian bottler, Samaroli (whose 31 yo Caol Ila so disappointed me a couple of weeks ago). I don’t know too much about Tomintoul and these are the first whiskies I’ve tasted from this distillery, so I cannot speak to how typical or atypical they may be. But I do hope they’ll be less disappointing than the Inchgowers were.
1. Tomintoul 44, 1967-2011 (40%, Samaroli; sample from a friend)
Nose: Quite rummy (that’s rum-like, not odd). Not much woodiness despite the extreme age. An elegant fruity quality: quite concentrated at first with pears and then apricot jam on toast, brandied golden raisins. A little bit of woodspice and then some hints of clove.
Palate: Not woody at all on the palate either. And despite the low strength, not overly watery. Not as much fruit on the palate though, unfortunately, and more in the fruit-flavoured cough syrup family here. It promises depth at first but there’s not much character in general in the end–sort of in ultra-smooth, high-end blend territory.
Finish: Not very long. No tannic grip–some woodspice.
Comments: Very nice nose, faded on the palate. Probably would have been much better if bottled some years earlier at a higher strength (presumably). Quite nice but nowhere close to being worth it, not even at this extreme age, for whatever high price it is being sold at in the US, unless you have a lot of money, and really, really want to own a bottle of >40 year old scotch. (This dude likes it a lot more though.)
2. Tomintoul 42, 1969-2011 (44.3%, Kintra Whisky, bourbon hogshead; purchased sample)
Nose: Oh, this is much better. There’s more wood here but also brighter fruit: pears here too, but also some peach and banana and a hint of lime peel. Gets quite bourbony with time.
Palate: Much more weight on the palate. What a difference a few percentage points makes, but maybe it’s also slightly more active wood. While it’s not terribly oppressive, the wood does dominate the fruit, which is more tropical than on the nose but doesn’t have as much to say.
Finish: Longer, with more oaky grip; hints of fruit.
Comments: Much, much nicer. And I think you could get two bottles of this for quite a bit less than one bottle of the Samaroli. I did like this enough to wish I had more than 20 ml to taste, but not quite enough I think to get a full bottle (it’s a lot cheaper than the Samaroli, but not cheap in the abstract).
So, a much nicer outing than the Inchgowers. Now, a question for those who’ve had far more extremely old whiskies than me: is it generally the case that the nose is far more expressive than the palate past the 40 year mark? That’s not the case with the 35+yo malts I’ve had but seems to largely be so in the 40+ age group.