This is only my second Tormore ever. The first was also from 1984 and one year older (and coincidentally I reviewed it almost exactly a year ago). An uninteresting story: I purchased that sample (of an Archives bottling) expressly so that I could compare notes with this bottle but then failed to do so as I forgot that I owned this bottle. Getting old is so much fun! Anyway, this one is also an independent and is from Whiskybroker, the operation owned by Martin Armstrong, the son of Raymond Armstrong, ex of Bladnoch. Whiskybroker’s selections have always been renowned for their highly reasonable prices (especially for older malts) but not always so renowned for knocking anyone’s socks off. I’ve enjoyed most of what I’ve tried of their bottles—especially when adjusted for price.
I opened this for one of our local group’s tastings late in 2014 and it divided opinion. Some really liked it, some thought it was uninteresting. I was somewhere in between myself and am interested to see if things have changed now that the bottle is below the halfway point and has been open for a couple of months.
Tormore 28, 1984 (54%; bourbon barrel 3674; from my own bottle)
Nose: Honey with a prickly, grassy edge; some bitter lemon peel. A fair bit of malt below that and then a sourness reminiscent of an uncoated tablet. Gets sweeter as it sits and the oak begins to emerge as well (vanilla, a bit of ginger). With more time, quite a lot of apple/apple juice. Maltier with water.
Palate: Starts out sweeter on the palate. Lovely, thick, oily mouthfeel. The citrus expands and there’s a lot of malt and some pepper. On the second sip there’s some candied pineapple. The grassy note from the nose peeks out after a bit. After a few more minutes it gets a bit more talkative and the bitter lemon/zest from the nose joins it and becomes the top note. With water the sweetness makes a comeback but oddly, so does that uncoated tablet thing I’d gotten early on the nose.
Finish: Medium. Sweet and buttery and peppery. With water it’s just a bit more jumbled.
Comments: This is a very pleasant whisky with the malt quite forward. I don’t know that it displays very many of the qualities you’d hope for in a 28 yo malt but at the price charged for this (less than some indies charge for 10 yo malts) it’s very hard to complain. You were certainly not being sold some crappy over-oaked cask that no one would have been able/willing to unload at a higher price. I preferred it without water.
Rating: 84 points.