I have to admit I have a bit of a soft spot for Tomintoul. The 16yo was actually the first bottle of malt whisky I ever bought and every time I taste it again, years on, it always inspires me to keep pursuing whisky and enjoy it just as I did when I was new to it all at the age of 20.
I think it can be easy to lose perspective when you’re wrapped up in whisky all the time (!). I know myself I can sometimes be a little cavalier when it comes to trying quite expensive drams and may not now give them quite the same level of awe as I might have done when I first bought that bottle of 16yo. So a swift reminder of where it all began for yourself and what first inspired your whisky journey is no bad thing at all – helps keep perspective, I think.
Tomintoul is a relatively new distillery in Speyside founded in the 1960s and came under the ownership of Angus Dundee Distillers in 2000. Since then the whisky and the range has gone from strength to strength, gaining good recognition and more than a handful of respected awards. A small and not widely-known brand outside of the enthusiast circle, but not a small distillery by any stretch, producing over 3 million litres of spirit every year, most of which is used for their blending programmes. Although malt whisky drinkers are on the grow in the UK we would all have to buy a hell of a lot more malt whisky for blending programmes to ever go on the back burner. However the Tomintoul range is growing and is offering some interesting and really very tasty releases, including some peated expressions for those pursing mainland peated whiskies.
Tomintoul mature the bulk of their stock in trusty American White Oak, keeping a signature light style of whisky
The 16yo 40%,
Biscuity like hob-nobs, lemon meringue honey and vanilla and citrusy toffee
Creamy and mellow. Biscuity flavours along with caramel, honey and some citrus. Like a bowl of crunchy nut cornflakes, lemon and barley cordial and caramel hob nobs.
Toffee and slightly nudges towards coco and a slight trace of charred barbequed sweetcorn.
A nice easy-drinker that satisfies the need for that Speyside style at this time of the year. Admittedly it doesn’t blow me away in quite the same way as that first bottle did, but then there has been a lot of, eh, Whisky under the bridge. However, if anyone reading this has yet to buy a bottle of malt whisky I would happily encourage the purchase of this around £35-£40. A fine example of a soft easy going, tasty Speyside whisky.
12yo, Oloroso cask finish, 46%, unchill-filtered
As I was pouring this a touch accidently spilt on my fingers as I lifted them to my nose it was pure marzipan whereas in the glass it’s anything but. Quite a candied affair reminds me of those little sweets you would find on elastic that you would wear round your wrist. The sherry cask really isn’t the dominating presence although you certainly pick up some lovely dried fruit and spice that seems to have been chucked into the sweet jar.
Juicy, full and zesty. A lively feel but still very mellow. Cakey with orange flavoured icing sugar as it holds on your palate you get toffee as the sherry tones deepen.
The sherry tones are racing for the finish line here, with a touch of vanilla coming in close behind. Â The sherry flavours win as the vanilla and toffee seem to get tired and wonder off. More sherry presence here than anywhere else in this whisky
A great balance of flavour, the sherry cask and the American oak working well together, they seem to play to each other’s strengths and make for a tasty experience. A cracker around the £35 mark giving you plenty of bang for your buck.
Now perhaps I am being influenced by the ideals of when this distillery was founded, but I’m sure this whisky throws out a sixties vibe. It’s a mellow creature, easy going and in no rush to attack your senses. Kind of reminds me of Dylan the rabbit in the Magic Roundabout. I’d love to see something cask strength in the Tomintoul range for something a bit less flowers and poncho’s and a bit more rock and roll.
Glencadam has seen a revival of its whisky since it was bought by Angus Dundee in 2004. I think it’s great when a little known neglected whisky gets a boost and is lifted back into the spotlight across reviews and whisky shop shelves. Kind of like giving that worn old table a good sanding down or reviving a tired looking heirloom that was two steps shy of the skip, back to its former glory. Even though it was a huge amount of effort, it was all worth it in the end when you can look the misses in the eye while throwing the Ikea catalogue in the bin!
So anyway the brand got a complete overhaul and was re-released in new bottles and with a good range of ages and finishes. In my opinion this new sluice of bottlings are far better and more interesting to drink than the old 15yo bottling which was about the only official release available prior to the 2008 re-launch. In the distillery’s previous ownership its stock was mainly used in blends such as Ballentines and Stewarts Cream of the Barley. The new(ish) owners seem intent on raising the profile of this single malt which can only be a good thing…
Unlike Tomintoul, Glencadam is one of the old boys of Scottish distilling, founded way back in 1825, not long after the hugely important Excise Act of 1823 which changed the face of the Scotch Whisky industry and shaped it into the monolith it is today.
Here we’ll be looking at the 10yo and the 14yo aged in oloroso sherry cask.
Glencadam 10yo 46% and natural colour (thumbs up)
Straight off vanilla custard, honey and citrus with some light floral notes
A light wash of citrusy flavours glide over your tongue with vanilla and a slightly metallic edge. A little bit of bite which is no bad thing, a good sign of highland whisky in my opinion
Some peppery like spice with lemon tart and plenty of vanilla.
A clean light highland with a bit of heat and a slight kick which I quite like displaying some guts behind the delicate flavour profile. A good entry level malt around £35 that delivers a classic highland experience.
Glencadam 14yo, sherry cask, 46%
Like orange peel and weetos (the old chocolate breakfast cereal) with cinnamon, fruit and nut chocolate and a touch of pepper.
Really lively with plenty of spice and dried fruit to get stuck into. Good balance between the fruity sherry and the spirit. Good clean mouthfeel and a good delivery. Â Again a slight bit of bite and heat, giving the whisky some guts which in my opinion adds to the overall enjoyment
Quite lengthy and spicy with mixed nuts, stewed fruit and a slight peppery heat.
A tasty Glencadam working well with good quality sherry casks, there’s plenty to enjoy in this whisky but at around £45-£50 think I prefer the 10yo. It’s clear to see in this whisky how bottling at 46% has given it that extra bit of character and depth, let’s hope others follow suit in the not to distant future.
A good highland distillery producing what I consider to be a great and traditional style of Highland spirit.
In conclusion I am quite happy to report that these two distilleries stars are on the rise and with a bit more work should be on every malt enthusiasts hit list. At it currently stands I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone just starting their own whisky journey.
Until next time, Slainte!