Tomintoul 30, 1985 (Cadenhead)

Please admire the picture of the empty sample bottle at left. I failed to take a photograph of it before drinking the contents. I did remember to take tasting notes on it though, so that’s something.

I have so far reviewed only four Tomintouls on the blog. Only one was a young expression and that was a 8 yo from some decades ago. The others may well have been distilled around the same time as that one but were bottle at much older ages: a 45 yo for Chester Whisky, a 44 yo released in the US by Samaroli and a 42 yo from Kintra Whisky. I liked them all. For a while at least, super-aged Tomintouls from the late 1960s were ubiquitous and given the distillery’s low-key reputation, not very expensive. This one is also old—though not quite as old as those three indies—but is from 1985. It’s a single cask bottled by Cadenhead last year, I believe. And as with so many Cadenhead releases from Speyside distilleries it bears the Glenlivet suffix, which I was under the impression the Glenlivet distillery had long ago managed to prevent other distilleries from using. If anyone knows how Cadenhead gets to keep using it, please let me know.

Tomintoul 30, 1985 (50.7%; Cadenhead Single Cask; bourbon barrel; from a bottle split)

Nose: Grass and hay over a malty core. After a minute or so there’s some toasted oak and lime (or is that tart green apple?); with a bit more time the the toasted note is more bread than wood; and after a while it’s just bready (rye bread). Less bready and more malty with water and the citrus gets muskier.

Palate: The lime hits first and then the malt and the oak. Very nice, oily mouthfeel. The malt expands but other than that there’s no real development at first; but no drop-off either. The flavours are very nicely integrated/balanced. Let’s see if time and water release more fruit. Yes! After about 20 minutes there’re some sweeter notes of apple and pear and the lime gets sweeter and shades towards grape juice as well. Gets a little sweeter with water but, on the whole, I preferred it without.

Finish: Long. The citrus hangs out a while, gets more zesty and picks up some white pepper. Fruitier here too with time and toasted oak pops out at the end. The balance falls apart a bit with water, with the oak the top note now.

Comments: This is really very good bourbon cask whisky. There are no fireworks but the long aging has integrated the malt, fruit and oak beautifully and given the whole a mellow drinkability. A lack of complexity is all that keeps it out of the next tier for me.

Rating: 88 points.

3 thoughts on “Tomintoul 30, 1985 (Cadenhead)

  1. See here for details of the court case which settled the matter in the late nineteenth century.

    It seems to be the case that distillers just don’t talk about this. I suspect (on the basis of no evidence) that the SWA would like everybody who has the right to use the suffix to just let it slide.

    Cadenhead’s, of course, just carry right on doing what they have always done.


    • Thanks! If I’m not mistaken, Cadenhead’s also seem to have revived the practice a few years ago. At least I think I’ve seen releases from a decade and more ago that didn’t have the suffix. But I suppose those may have been of distilleries located elsewhere in the Speyside.


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