Tomintoul – 39yo 1973 The Day of Pearly Spencer
(Distilled 23/2/73, bottled December 2012, cask #1486, 46.6%)
Right, I shall start off this review with a confession of ignorance: I really know nothing about this bottling. Why is it named after a sixties song by Northern Irish troubadour David McWilliams? Answers on a postcard please.
What I can tell you is that Tomintoul is a fairly young distillery, founded in the 1960s, and marketed as “the gentle dram”. A lot of casks from those early days seem to have made it through to quite an advanced age before being bottled, like this one.
Nose: It’s a very quiet, elegant nose that takes some time to unpack. It’s also incredibly fresh for a whisky pushing 40-years-old; there’s no deadening woodiness here. What you do get is an almost old-Tomatin-esque fruitiness: mainly stone fruits, but with some strawberry. Some light vanilla and brioche notes too. (Greengage jam on a croissant. Maybe?) A slight menthol touch in the background.
Taste: Really almost identical to the nose, only with the fruitiness going in a more tropical direction. There are just a few touches of peppery spice and some lemon zest, with something floral too. Again, freshness and lightness rule.
Finish: A bit richer at the end, with more honey and caramel, plus some hints of chocolate and black tea. Hints only, mind you. Not a long finish, but fades out nicely on quite a herbal note (those Ricola sweets I think), with a guava-ish sort of aftertaste.
This really is a gentle dram, and – shush! – one which whispers rather than shouts. Don’t, whatever you do, try this after anything more robust – it’ll be drowned out entirely. If you listen, though, there’s an awful lot of enjoy, and it’s a tale of the occasional benefits of subtlety over complexity. Well worth trying should the opportunity arise.