This will be a week of reviews of older whiskies, all >25 years old. They were all bottled by Mackillop’s Choice for the US market, and were distilled in successive decades. I’ll begin with the oldest, a 41 yo Tomintoul, distilled in 1966. It was bottled at 42.7%. As I doubt this was an abv arrived at by choice, I assume it was the natural strength of the cask at time of bottling. Casks that have naturally aged down to lower strengths often demonstrate greater depth than those that have been diluted to identical or similar strengths and I’m hoping that will be the case here. It can be depressing to drink a very good older whisky while all the while sensing the great whisky it could have been with a bit more weight. But what is lost in strength can be made up for by aging. 41 years is a long time though and there’s also the risk of far too much oak influence. It’s not the oldest Tomintoul I’ve had—not that I’ve had so very many. I’ve previously reviewed a 45 yo that was distilled in 1968. That one was at a higher strength and thankfully did not demonstrate massive oak impact. I’ve also reviewed another 1960s pair in their 40s (in age and abv). None of those blew me away, though I did like two of them quite a lot. Let’s see if this one improves on them.
Tomintoul 41, 1966 (42.7%; Mackillop’s Choice; from a bottle split)
Nose: Honey and sweet citrus come pouring out of the glass as I pour; some brown sugar mixed in there as well along with some wood glue. With time some polished oak begins to come through too along with a bit of pine resin. A few drops of water amp up the wood glue, bringing some butterscotch and toffee out to join it. Some stewed apples too now (with cinnamon) to go with the citrus.
Palate: Comes in as indicated by the nose and pretty much in that order. The texture is just a bit thin but this has good depth of flavour at the low abv. Gets more acidic as it sits (lemon) and there’s more of the oak—a little damp now—along with cold black tea and that pine resin from the nose. Okay, let’s add a bit of water. Water pushes the fruit back here, emphasizes the oak and pulls that metallic note from the finish out earlier.
Finish: Long. The fruit fades quickly and the last impression is of the oak (not tannic in the slightest). With time the citrus (dried orange peel) sticks around longer and mixes with a slight metallic note. Less fruit here too with water.
Comments: Lovely old whisky. And really the genre for this is old whisky. I can’t guess with confidence what kind of cask this was but it is squarely in the genre of mild, fruity spirit matured for a very long time in refill oak. Missing a bit of complexity and texture at the low abv but has no flaws at all.
Rating: 89 points.