Tomintoul 33 Years Review

“Shy Guy”

Whisky Review # 658

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Tomintoul (Special Reserve)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 33 Years 
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Most likely a mix of Bourbon and Sherry Casks     
Chill Filtration: Yes   
Price Range: US$ 180-220 (November 2017). Higher prices in some places. 
Buying Advice: 😏 Not really bad but too expensive for what it offers. 

Colour: Golden with hints of Orange (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Quite Light for a Whisky of this age. Clear Bourbon cask influences but there is some Sherry in the mix as well. Mostly refill casks I would think based on Colour and Aroma. On the Nose I detect Sweet, Sour, Green and Yeasty elements. I find Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Caramel, Toffee, Treacle, Heather Honey, Grass, Straw, Vanilla, Dried Fruit like Apricot, Sultanas and Figs, slightly Sour Apples and White Grapes, Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit, Gooseberries, Nuts, Wood Shavings, Cinnamon, Ginger, Aniseed, light Menthol and traces of Dairy, Cooked Vegetables and/or Potatoes and Bourbon. The Alcohol is reasonably well integrated. There is enough to discover if you take the time but somehow the add-up of all the components is not quite convincing. "Shy Boy" by Diana King is a song that comes to my mind.   

Palate: By nature the Tomintoul 33 is rather Soft on the Palate but the Alcohol and the Wood provide some Sharp, Edgy elements as well. I find Malted Barley, Sugared Cereals, Brown Sugar, Treacle, Nuts and Dried Fruit, Banana, Mandarin, Orange, Grapefruit, Oak, Stone Fruit, Straw, Grass, Vanilla, Resin, Sugared Tea, Cinnamon, Mint, Pepper, Aniseed and traces of Espresso and Bitter Chocolate. On the Palate this Tomintoul is mostly Bitter-Sweet with some Sour, Herbal and Spicy notes.      

Finish: Middle-Long and mostly Bitter-Sweet with a few Sour, Herbal and Spicy notes. A little Sharp and Tannic. I find Malted Barley, Sugared Cereals, Treacle, Hazelnut/Milk Chocolate, Vanilla, Toffee, Heather Honey, Nuts and Nutshells, Oak, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, Aniseed, Menthol, Grapefruit, Orange, Lemon, Hay, Alcohol and a hint of Espresso or Strong Tea.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and the Nose becomes more Floral but also really Thin. I get some notes of Fresh Peach as well. The Palate becomes Floral as well and almost reminds me of a Perfume. You do get rid of the harshness by adding a few drops of Water. This is not an easy call. Just experiment and add a drop or two at a time. 

Rating: 84.5    

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

The Tomintoul distillery was founded in 1965 and was bought in 2000 by the current owners Angus Dundee Distillers who also acquired Glencadam in 2003. It is located in Ballindaloch (Banffshire), one of the highest distillery locations in Scotland. The core range currently consists a/o of the NAS Tlath, the 10, 14, 16, 21 and 25 years old as well as some peated Malts like the Old Ballantruan and the Peaty Tang. The Tomintoul Malt is used in blends like Dundee and Parker's.

The 33 Years was launched in August 2009 to replace the 27 Years that had been released in 2004. Recently, the 33 years has been discontinued as well.

Picture Credit:
🍷  The Spirit:

The Distillery operates two pairs of Stills with Lyne arms that point slightly upwards. They produce a light, Fruity and Floral Spirit. The Water is sourced from the Ballantruan Spring.

Picture Credit:

🌲  The Wood:

Unfortunately I do not have any exact information with respect to the casks that contained the 33 Year old Tomintoul during maturation. Based on the Aroma -  and Flavour profile I would assume that we are looking at a combination of refill Ex- Bourbon and Ex-Sherry casks. 

Drinking Experience: Okay/Good. I expected more of a 33 Year old Malt.


I have tasted quite a few Tomintouls in the meantime and it's fair to say it does not rank among my favourite distilleries. The 33 Years is no exception to the rule although it's not a bad Single Malt. But I can almost feel the tiredness of the Refill casks after 33 long Years. A little added Water helps to clear the air but almost transfers the Whisky in a Floral Perfume. I'm not sure that's what Master-Distiller Robert Fleming had in mind when creating this Single Malt. If you have the spare cash and like the Aroma/Flavour profile by all means give the 33 Years a chance. Although personally I would strongly advise you to try a miniature first before deciding on buying a full bottle. Because prices are quite high, even more so of course after the decision to discontinue the 33 Years.   

Jan van den Ende                                                                November 8, 2017

Picture Credit: Peter Moore

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