A wide range of little-known or largely unavailable single malts dot the whisky marketplace. These producers, sometimes seen only on the labels of independent bottlers, were generally built for the sole purpose of generating easily-blended single malt to feed the huge demand of blenders making blended scotch whisky. It has only been recently that grassroots (and sometimes market-driven) interest in the origin and individuality of single malts have driven these malts into the spotlight. Tormore, for example, is owned by Chivas Brothers which markets a 10-year and a 12-year official bottling. However, the distillery does not have a website, nor a visitors’ center. Despite current hype about single malts, Tormore continues to largely produce malt whisky for blending into Long John, Ballantine’s, and other blends. In my quest to try every affordable single-malt on the market, I obtained a sample of the 12-year Tormore to see if it could stand alone.
Nose: Honeyed and redolent of spring fruits – peach, green apple, and lychee. Simple, but mouth-watering. A very slight nuttiness underlies the fruit, and very little wood influence.
Palate: Nutty. Hazelnut butter and vanilla. Light fruits – white peach – and a dose of barrel tannin that’s on the bitter side. On second taste there’s something buttery mid-palate, like Scottish shortbread cookies.
Finish: Medium-short. A bit grainy, with some grassy new-make and a continuation of that bitterness from the palate, but it is in balance.
With Water: A few drops of water improves the palate, with added notes of caramel and a dilution of that bitterness. Definitely add a splash of water, despite the already low ABV.
Overall: A few more years and a bottle strength of 46% ABV would do wonders for this malt. The nose is straightforward but delectable. The palate is somewhat washed-out, and the finish suffers somewhat from its youth (or lack of heavy wood influence). This isn’t a malt to impress at this age, but it shows promise of complexity in its future. I’d love to try an independent bottling of Tormore with a bit more age (16?), higher proof (46%), and without chill-filtration. The 12-year, if you can find it, is only $35 or so, which is certainly a respectable price for a light, refreshing dram.