Friday, 7 June 2013

Whisky Discovery #444

SMWS G9.1 'Sweet and Sour Mélange' (57.8% abv)
Single Cask Single Grain Whisky
£63.40 to SMWS Members
The first SMWS cask from grain distillery No.9 and an 11 Year Old, distilled on the 27th September 2000 and matured in a refill ex-bourbon cask, yielding just 187 bottles at 57.8% abv.

This was one of the ten releases launched during the Society's Grain Week (17th-25th May) as part of their 30th Anniversary celebrations.

Distillery G9 is more commonly known as the Loch Lomond Distillery.  Whilst there are over a hundred malt distilleries, there are only seven grain distilleries in Scotland. The Loch Lomond distillery is unique in that it has both single malt stills and grain stills and has the most modern, being commissioned in 1994. Their single grain whisky is made using wheat and a small quantity of barley.

So What Did I Think?

The nose opened up with lemon cream puff biscuits, this was followed by notes of vanilla, zesty citrus, sherbet and there was a herbal/vegetal element too. With water the nose became much sweeter, with creamy vanilla and toffee, a little white pepper along with some lemon zest and sharp pineapple notes.

It came across as quite thick and mouth coating, and on the palate there was a gentle sweetness at first which starts to turn slightly sour, although not an unpleasant sourness. The white pepper picked up on the nose comes across on the palate too which is followed by some woody notes. The long finish has a spicy chili pepper kick and the woody notes remain to the end.

With water it became much smoother and creamier and reminded me of a lemon cheesecake (without the biscuit base) and was sweeter too. Again the finish was long with spicy pepper but with a citrus edge.

So, my first whisky from the Loch Lomond distillery, and many thanks to the SMWS for sending me a generous sample try. Although no longer available to buy in the UK, I'm sure you should be able to try a dram or two of this in an SMWS lounge.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Tomintoul Tweet Tasting

Whisky Discovery
I've not come across any Tomintoul whiskies before other than Old Ballantruan in an earlier Tweet Tasting, so when the opportunity arose to apply for a special on-line event featuring their 21 Year Old and single cask 1981 Vintage I completed my application and kept my fingers crossed.

The core Tomintoul range consists of nine expressions (yes nine!) with the Ten and Sixteen year old expressions representing the original bedrock of the portfolio.

The Tomintoul distillery is a fairly new distillery, being built in the mid 1960's and is located near to the village of Tomintoul, in the Glenlivet Estate at Ballantruan on the east side of the River Avon and in the valley between the Glenlivet Forest and the hills of Cromdale.

The event was scheduled for 29th May and this was the first time Tomintoul had ever hosted a tweet tasting. Master Distiller Robert Fleming was our guide and on hand to answer any of our questions, as well as ask a few of his own. With the event set to start at 7pm under the #Tom1981 hashtag we started with their 21 Year Old

Whisky Discovery #446

Tomintoul 21 Year Old (40% abv)
Speyside Single Malt
Circa £60.00 70cl

Tomintoul Tweet Tasting
Not a bad way to start your introduction to Tomintoul single malts eh? The Tomintoul 21 years old was introduced in 2011 to bridge the gap between the 16 and 33 years old versions, and apparently replaced the 27 year old - Tomintoul seem to like their aged whiskies!

Robert told us that casks selected from refill bourbon and refill hogsheads (matured all of its life at Tomintoul Distillery) were used for the make-up of this expression, and went on to say that Jim Murray had awarded this a score of 93.5 in his 2013 Whisky Bible.

In addition to asking how we felt about the whisky Robert asked us to think back 21 years and reflect on what we were doing back then. 

In 1992 I was working in Thailand and had just completed my first year there - many happy memories of pioneering super-yacht building in the Far East, as well as meeting my wife (we had not long started dating in 1992)

So What Did I Think?

The nose comes across as creamy and sweet. It's malty with a hint of cloves, alongside notes of vanilla, honey, wet grass, stewed fruits; apples and pears, fudge and pencil shavings

On the palate it has a soft and creamy smooth mouth filling feel. Vanilla sweetness opens which is followed by a gentle spice build up of white pepper. As the spice fades creamy toffee returns, and there is a barley water like taste too. The medium length finish gives a spicy kick on the tongue before becoming quite dry.

This come across as a very simple dram which surprised me for a 21 year old, as I guess was expecting more levels of complexity from the palate due to it's age. Don't get me wrong though, although it came across as simple to me it is exceedingly drinkable (although I only had a wee sample of it). It's very gentle in it's approach, though remains fresh throughout.

What did the others think?
@galg: Nose : lovely vanilla strawberry ice cream with some wood, apples
@ ifotou: Nose: slightly oaky to start with then fruit and fizz, refreshers/wham bars, fresh vanilla pods rolled in dewy grass
@mynameisgone: Taste, smooth fruity and gentle but with a touch of spice warming as it coats the mouth
@steveprentice: The palate is smooth and easy going, due both to the good middle age of this whisky and to the low ABV. It's got a medium oily mouth feel, with just a pinch of spices. The oak notes on the nose aren't quite so obvious here, but it's wonderfully fruity and easy going.
@TIA568B: On the palate is incredibly smooth, but slightly thick and reminds me of rum for some reason? Lots of toffee and caramel, yummy
@dvdbloke: Finish - Warming Oak spices. Sweet, then drying into some light oak sawdust

Whisky Discovery #445

Tomintoul 1981 Vintage Cask #5985 31 Year Old (53.9% abv)
Speyside Single Malt
Circa £225.00 70cl

Tomintoul Tweet Tasting
This is Tomintoul's first Vintage Single Cask release. Distilled on the 30th of October 1981 and matured for over 31 years in a bourbon cask (Cask No. 5985 for the record), being bottled in February 2013, at cask strength of 53.9% abv yielding just 196 bottles, with no artificial colouring or chill filtration.

This comes in a rather splendid looking bottle, which would look lovely on my whisky shelf!

Again Robert asked us to reflect back to what we were doing back in 1981 and I can tell you I was in the first year of my shipbuilding apprenticeship on the South Coast of England. I can spin you a yarn or two from those days too!

So What Did I Think?

Well this is much spicier that the gentle 21 Year Old. It's peppery with a touch of salt at first, then the wood notes start to evolve after a short while, like well soaked oak. I started to find some melon sweetness are trying to pierce through the peppery spices. However once the alcohol burn subsides there is a wealth of rich dark chocolate notes. With a drop or two of water the pepper is tamed and the vanilla notes came first, followed by some linseed oil and candied orange peel.

The palate is rich as I was expecting, with polished wood, spicy pepper, licorice, and cloves too, finishing with a very spicy finish leaving a chilli heat when when pressing my tongue to the roof of my mouth, though remains rich to the very end.

What did the others think?
@Girl_Whisky: Nose: Nice peppery, subtle yet complex ... and a hint of salty stones?
@rickfurzer: Nose: polish gives way to peaches and custard, then peaches give way to green apples with addition of water
@WorldWhiskyDay: I'm getting really nice heathery honey on the nose of this! With a bit of a citrusy note too!
@whiskywardrobe: Quite floral, with lovely spices and citrus notes. If I nose deeper, figs 
@manavsoni: With water, beautiful polished wood and stewed tropical fruit
@LaCaveDeCobalt: It's warming with notes of coconut and liquorice on the tongue. Still this light bitterness at the end

The verdict was fairly evenly split when choosing favourites. For me the single cask won hands down, but at £225 is a little way out of my price range so my head is telling me to choose the 21 Year Old.

Tomintoul is known as the 'Gentle Dram' and that is clearly evident in this first tasting of their core range. I certainly need to try more of their range and will be putting them on my list to find for one of the forthcoming whisky events I normally find myself drawn to!

As per previous Tweet Tastings there was a great deal of tweeting going on and to see what happened search on the #Tom1981 hashtag on twitter for the full story! (I downloaded all of the tweets from the evening and have them on a spreadsheet if you are interested)

Another great experience and a fabulous introduction to Tomintoul Whisky. Thanks to Master Distiller Robert Fleming and everyone at the Tomintoul Distillery @TomintoulWhisky

As far as I can tell, this events tweet tasters were: @TomintoulWhisky @JayDieNL @whiskywardrobe @manavsoni @steveprentice @ dvdbloke @TIA568B @Girl_Whisky @mynameisgone @galg @ifotou @WhiskyDiscovery @MattonMalt @LaCaveDeCobalt @Hmcnee @headwalluk @ubern @rickfurzer @WorldWhiskyDay @mike_rawlins

To keep abreast of what is happening at the Tomintoul Distillery why not follow them on Twitter: @TomintoulWhisky 

You can also find more information on their website: