Tomintoul 41, 1966 (Mackillop’s Choice)

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. Continue reading


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. Continue reading

Tomintoul 8

Tomintoul 8
So far this month my whisky reviews have included an entry-level malt available in a few countries (the Highland Park 10) and another entry-level malt available pretty much everywhere (the Macallan 10, Fine Oak). Here now is an entry-level malt that is not available anywhere (other than at auction). This is in case this blog was in danger of becoming useful: you’re welcome!

I purchased a sample of this Tomintoul 8 in Europe. It came from a bottle that looked like this. My understanding is that this style was released in the 1970s and 1980s, which only goes to show that when whisky geeks complain about contemporary whisky in “perfume bottles” they’re being downright ahistorical*. Anyway, this young Tomintoul which may be from 30 years ago (if not more) probably bears very little resemblance to current Tomintoul but it’s always interesting to see what young whisky of earlier eras was like.  Continue reading

Tomintoul 45, 1968 (Chester Whisky)

Tomintoul 45, Chester Whisky Company
This is the oldest single malt whisky I’ve ever had, or am about to have (I’ve had an older grain whisky). Of course, this does not mean that this will be the best whisky I’ve ever had. Still, it’s hard to resist the experience—especially when European retailers sell 60 ml samples for such reasonable prices. By the way, there has been a fair amount of Tomintoul of this general age/vintage around in the last few years. I guess some broker found or came into an old parcel of casks that were surplus to blending requirements. As Tomintoul is not one of the most storied distilleries in Scotland, prices for these casks have been relatively reasonable. (In fact, the last two Tomintouls I reviewed were also very ancient ones, though one was overpriced.)

And as Tomintoul makes a light, fruity spirit its malt also seems theoretically well-suited for overlong maturation—though as alluded to above, the odds of whisky being good tend to reduce once they get past the 40 yo mark; after a point, unless a cask goes dead, odds are high that the oak will overpower the whisky or that it will just go “flat”. Well, let’s see how this cask fared. It certainly hasn’t dropped as close to the minimum allowed 40% abv as you might imagine it would have by this point. Continue reading

Quick Hits: Two Aged Tomintouls

Once again, the “Quick Hits” notes are briefer takes on whiskies I only have small’ish samples of. No ratings for that reason.

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.   Continue reading