Tormore 12yo 2004/2017 (59.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, First Fill Bourbon Barrels #901 & 902)

Sometimes less obvious Whiskies just hit the right spot with the drinker. No big names, no big marketing ploy. Usually these are workhorse Whiskies originally meant for blends. Just like Inchgower (I just reviewed this 1998 bottled by Gordon & MacPhail as well) is mainly used in three well known blends. White Horse, Bell’s and Johnny Walker. Teaninich is another right-spot Whisky for me, but there are more. Tormore is one of those right-spot Whiskies as well (and used in several blends too). Tormore has a profile I rarely encounter elsewhere. Sometimes funky or even sulphury, sometimes industrial and frequently metallic. It doesn’t seem right, but it is most definitely not wrong either.

So what is it about Tormore? Maybe it is safest just to call it an acquired taste? Sure, I’m the first to admit that the markers I mentioned above don’t sound all that appetizing, but for me the strange profile works wonders. It broadens the horizon a bit, if you will. Entertaining and interesting. Unique and a bit strange. I first had this click with an metallic and industrial Tormore from the hot 13yo Cadenhead’s bottling I reviewed quite a while back. Tormore may not be entirely for novices, I’m sure it isn’t, but I found that people who are “doing” Whisky for a longer time, secretly have a soft spot for this Malt! I’m so curious now, I can hardly wait to take a sip…

Color: Very light gold, White Wine.

Nose: Cereal, barley, wood and strange enough, since this is coming from Bourbon barrels, some sulphur, but a nice light sulphur it is. Warming, funky, almost like a nice smelling fart. Don’t be offended, you’ve been there, admit it. There is another association I have with this smell. When growing up near a rural area I used to poke a stick into the bottom of a pond or stream, and the sulphury bits of this Tormore remind me of the bubbles coming up. Just like previous Tormore’s, it’s also metallic and nicely spicy. Funny when Tormore just seems dead wrong, it still is right (for me). It’s a bit off (or is it just different), but I just like it. Old dusty vanilla and fresh citrus notes. Ginger. Dry vanilla powder. One moment perfumy and chic. Fireworks and striking matches the next. (including the gas-passing, mentioned above). So, when did you have that last in a Whisky? The “off” notes, wear off a bit, showing more of the fruits and ginger underneath. Zesty, fresh and citrussy and still this huge breath of fresh air. When smelled vigorously, a meaty note comes to the fore. After a longer while, old furniture pops up. Dusty old furniture. My minds eye sees this old furniture, lit by a ray of sunlight falling into the attic through a small round window. My god what a nice farty, complex and interesting philosophical Whisky this is!

Taste: Quite sweet on entry. Fatty and creamy. Toffee and vanilla ice cream. All these creamy notes are masking the high ABV, because in no way does this taste like a near 60% ABV Whisky to me. Big and bold. Spicy, stingy, but then this soft, cloaking, toffee layer takes away the pain. Milk chocolate, mocha flavoured cream. You can sense that there is wood and there is most definitely quite some bitterness present, but the big, bold and creamy aroma’s just don’t let it all through, well sometimes it does. Alas, not as complex as the nose, but tasty nevertheless. Sugared mint towards the finish. I’ll even throw in the chocolate again, to make it an after eight type of experience. Hints of ashes, mere hints only. Cow manure (this is the sulphur talking again, showing one of its guises), mint, toffee and caramel, without being overly sweet. What a nice Whisky. The longer you keep this in your glass the more the mint excels. The bitterness turns out to have some longevity to it though. Luckily it is not too much.

In ways even science can’t wholly explain, I manage to have a soft spot for Tormore, and this example is no exception. But buyer beware, this is me and you are you, you might dislike it as much as I like it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I think it is wonderful in its uniqueness and for me, one to relax, recline a bit and watch a good looking and good sounding version of the Matrix. This Tormore somehow has the same feel as this movie…

Points: 87


Tormore 14yo 1998/2013 (50%, Gordon & MacPhail, Exclusive for the Whisky Mercenary, First Fill Bourbon Barrel #1586, 277 bottles)

Easily the longest title for any of my blog posts. Finally summer is over, and the urge to drink some Whisky is back with a vengeance. Not that I’m happy about summer being over, especially when the last five years we hardly had a summer over here…

Next up to warm us up is a Gordon & MacPhail bottling of a 1998 Tormore, they bottled for The Whisky Mercenary a.k.a. Jürgen Vromans. Jürgen tries to pick some great casks for his own hobby-brand of Whiskies. Up ’till now Scottish and Irish products have been bottled under his own label. This time he picked a cask from Gordon & MacPhail. Gordon & MacPhail take their own casks to various distilleries and after they are filled, take them to their own warehouses for ageing. Gordon & MacPhail never sell a cask without it being bottled in one of their series.

Color: Light Gold

Nose: Floral, fresh and sweet, easily recognizable for a Tormore from a Bourbon Cask. They’re always a bit metallic, but in a way I like it. Just have a look here. It’s great to see, ehhh, smell the consistency, or distillery character. There are a lot of similarities between the Cadenhead 1984 and this 1998 Tormore. Nice balance between the sweetness of the nose and the wood spice from the cask. Quite perfumy, with a touch of smoke from the toasted cask, and floral (which is not soapy). Under this all some ginger and sugared yellow fruits, like dried apricots, which add to the complexity of the sweetness. This is how Tormore’s are and this is another fine example.

Taste: Less sweet than the nose let on to believe. Nice darkness with ginger, vanilla, paper and wood. The spiciness in combination with the brooding half-sweetness doesn’t let the finish become sour (from the oak). There is a fruitiness to it, and it seems to me to be from the black fruit department, blackberries? A little bit of mocha, toffee and/or unburnt caramel to round the Whisky off. Long nutty finish with a hint of mint. Pretty well-balanced stuff. I like it and I most definitely want it.

Nice Tormore by Gordon & MacPhail and for sure a great pick by Jürgen. A connoisseurs Whisky, otherwise Gordon & MacPhail wouldn’t have Jürgen take this away.  If you like the profile, this is a very nice Tormore, ánd I have to stress that I am a fan of whiskies @ 50% ABV. Excellent! I really love the Cadenhead but this is equally as good.

Points: 86

Tormore 13yo 1984/1997 (63.9%, Cadenhead, 750 ml)

The other day, I reviewed a reduced Tormore by indie bottlers Mo Ór, that I called feminine. It was Floral and fruity, very easy accessible. I said other Tormores were more metallic and industrial. Luckily Master Quill has a vault where a whisky archive is kept, so I was able to find a Tormore fit for comparison. Here we’ll have a look at this Tormore bottled by Cadenhead. This particular offering was bottled for the good people of the U.S. of A. Hence the 750 ml bottle from 1997. 1997, that means this Tormore was bottled around the time previous reviewed Tormore was distilled (1996). Both Tormore’s are about the same age too. Let’s see if thís Tormore is any feminine.

Color: White wine.

Nose: Well this does start floral again. How consistent, but soon caramel and wood and yes, a metallic touch. Clean and very toffee like. Compared to the Mo Ór this isn’t all that fruity. Dry. Still very floral and sweaty maybe. Great stuff.

Taste: Well strong, it’s almost 64% ABV. Half-sweet, and the metallic part returns. Still that’s no bad thing here. Lots of caramel and toffee notes. This finishes a bit sour, from the oak, but no big problems here. Otherwise quite un-complex.

Tormore’s are definitively the odd ones out. Rather unpopular and who is surprised when you taste the official 12yo. But when you get your hands on a clean ex bourbon cask at cask strength, you might be in for a pleasant surprise. Even though they may not be the high scoring Whiskies, they do have something in them I particularly like. There’s a potential here that isn’t used. The stills have purifiers on them, that makes the spirit very clean. Most of the Tormore spirit is put in Refill Bourbon barrels and hogshead and most of it doesn’t even age on site. So you’re bound to have something ultra clean.

Still I consider myself lucky I got my hands on a second bottle of this. Great stuff.

Points: 86

Tormore 14yo 1996/2011 (46%, Mo Òr, Bourbon Hogshead #6868, 500 bottles, 500 ml)

Tormore. One of those distilleries, you don’t hear about too much. Tormore was founded in 1958 by Long John International, and distilling started in 1960. It was the first distillery that was built after the Pattison crash of 1898, and thus the first to be built in the 20th century. Today Pernod Ricard is the owner of Tormore and is already the fourth owner in its short history. Tormore was originally built with 4 stills and in 1972 that amount was doubled. In 1984 the heating system for the stills was converted, so that it could be heated with… woodchips to heat the stills. Officially only a 10yo was released, later replaced by the current 12yo. For a short while also a 5yo and a 15yo existed. So mostly independent bottlers issue Tormore Single Malt today. Still, over the years not a lot was issued this way, nor does it usually score very high. I guess it’s time to have a look into Tormore. First a Tormore bottled by Dutch bottlers Mo Òr, who’s Macduff and Miltonduff started this blog to boot.

Color: White wine

Nose: Nutty and soapy. Smells very floral. Fresh and exuberant. Sour spring fruits. Creamy and a bit sweaty as well. Toffee. I can imagine why they bought this cask. It seems to me this is a happy and positive Whisky. Absolutely a young Whisky. Very likable. Maybe they should sell this in a spray as an eau de toilette.

Taste: Creamy and nutty. Very simple and seems younger than it actually is. Again very likeable and sweet. Vanilla ice cream and some caramel, and mint. No extremes in this. Hardly any wood. There is some wood noticeable in the finish. Hints of Belgian beer in the finish. Hops. Given some time in the glass, some spiciness does come through. Short finish though.

There seems to be a nice and unpretending balance to this. For me it’s very feminine. It’s easy and has a lot of fruits and flowers going on. Not a typical Tormore though, it doesn’t resemble the other Tormore’s I know, which were more industrial, or even metallic. This is nothing like that, this is organic summer garden. Biological Whisky maybe? Give it some time to breathe, it will enhance the character a little, by shedding its initial sourness.

Points: 83

Thanks go out to Henk for handing me this sample.