Tormore Distillery was constructed in 1959 by Long John Distillers, with Sir Albert Richardson as the designer. The distillery began distilling in 1961, and its make was mainly used in Long John’s blends, which were popular in North America. Tormore’s stills were extended from four to eight in 1972, and in 1989, Allied Distillers purchased Tormore, which was previously owned by Whitbread. Pernod-Ricard (Chivas Brothers) took over the distillery in 2005 after acquiring Allied Domecq. Tormore 12 Year Old was released in 2004, and in 2014, it was replaced by 14- and 16-year-old bottlings. Tormore completed the installation of a shared gas pipe with The Glenlivet, Cragganmore, and Tomintoul in the same year. Today, Tormore is one of the malts used in Ballantine’s, which has a long-standing association with the distillery. Finally, Tormore was sold to Elixir Distillers in 2022. We’ll be reviewing both Tormore 14-year-old and 16-year-old.
Tormore 14-Year-Old Review
Tormore 14-year-old is one of the two widely available expressions from Tormore’s core range. This single malt is matured in American oak casks (without precision if it’s only ex-bourbon or also sherry-seasoned American oak casks) and bottled at 43% ABV. It seems it’s getting harder to find, check Whiskybase for shops still having some. Maybe because of the sale of the distillery to Elixir Distillers?
Neat: The nose exudes notes of sweet vanilla and honey, accompanied by ripe strawberry and raspberry, juicy peach, and subtle hints of almonds and walnuts. A delicate floral fragrance also lingers in the background. After some aeration, the nose becomes more pronounced, with a slight intensification of the sweet notes. Additionally, there is now a new dimension to the aroma, with an intriguing blend of lacquer and sandalwood notes emerging.
Neat: The arrival is pleasantly spicy, with a notable presence of wood spices, along with a subtle touch of tannins and bitterness. The wood notes continue to develop, with concentrated salted caramel emerging, accompanied by tangy pink grapefruit and zesty orange. Despite the low ABV, the mouthfeel is not too thin.
The finish is long, with the bitterness and woodiness carrying over from the palate. A subtle note of liquorice also emerges.
Despite the fact that this Tormore 14-year-old is aged in American oak, some may find the wood and tannin notes to be slightly overpowering. Whilst the whisky is not too thin on the palate, it may lack a certain degree of fruitiness for my taste.
Tormore 16-Year-Old Review
Added to the core range at the same time as the 14-year-old, the 16-year-old is this time bottled at 48% ABV. No mention once again regarding colouring and chill filtration. Check Den Hoorn in Belgium if you want a bottle (about €80).
Neat: The nose exudes fragrances of sweet vanilla, nuts, malt, apricot jam, and toffee, with active wood notes adding richness to the overall profile. The wood notes suggest the presence of American oak sherry casks in the vatting. However, the nose is somewhat confusing, as it is rich yet indistinct, leaving me yearning for a more articulate profile.
With water: When water is added, the whisky’s aroma becomes strangely muted, with only faint traces of wood notes lingering. Unfortunately, the addition of water does not bring out any new notes and the overall experience becomes underwhelming.
Neat: Rich mouthfeel, with a fuller body than its 14-year-old counterpart. The palate delivers prominent notes of caramel, butterscotch, and orange marmalade, complemented by hints of vanilla and American oak spices, with a subtle ginger undertone adding a pleasant warmth.
With water: Reduction brings out woodier spiciness, with a distinct cough syrup note that is balanced out by a resurgence of the ginger flavour.
Pleasant and lasting spiciness, balanced by rich butterscotch and vanilla notes that linger on the tongue. The wood notes from the palate also carry over into the finish, notably long and leaving a pleasant warmth.
Tormore 16-year-old is a good whisky that is best enjoyed neat. The addition of water does not enhance the tasting experience. This expression is notably superior to the 14-year-old, with a fuller body and a more complex flavour profile. The higher ABV of the Tormore 16-year-old also adds to its mouthfeel.