Tomintoul (pronounced tom-in-towel) is one of the youngest distilleries in Scotland. It was founded in 1964 and is located close to the village of Ballindalloch, on the southern edge of the Speyside whisky region. The distillery is the nearest neighbour to the famous Glenlivet and Cragganmore distilleries and produces around 3 million litres per year. Tomintoul is little know to the wider audience but they are well reknowned for their use of quality sherry casks for maturation. The main market for Tomintoul single malt whisky is mainland Europe.
A peaty Speyside whisky?
Tomintoul is the second highest distillery in Scotland at 286 metres (808 feet) above sea level and regularly suffers poor weather and cold temperatures as a result. The distillery is frequently cut off by heavy snowfall during winter. Dalwhinnie in the central Highlands is the highest at 326 metres (1075 feet). The current owners are Angus Dundee Distillers and most of the whisky produced is allocated to blending contracts. However, the popularity is growing and the single malt core range is expanding to reflect this. The range consists of a 10, 12, 16 and 33 years old, as well as two peated versions - this Peaty Tang and the heavier Old Ballantruan. Peaty whiskies are traditionally produced on the Scottish islands and are a rarity for Speyside distilleries.
Our tasting notes
The colour of Peaty Tang is light and golden and the nose is fresh, clean and crisp. There is initial vanilla and cereal grains (think of the husks especially) before the vibrant 'peaty tang' kicks in. The peatiness is reminiscent of damp earth and has a root-like element to it. There is also a slight floral note (imagine heather) and a hint of dried fruits (particularly sultanas). On the palate, there is distinct malted barley and nuts (think of almonds) and these are joined by the vanilla and dried fruit from the nose. The 'peaty tang' is sweeter and slightly more prominent than on the nose but still has that earthy, rooty quality to it. These elements combine well with an additonal touch of saltiness and spiciness (imagine peppercorns). The overall feeling is vibrant, fresh and uncomplicated. The finish begins sweetly before turning oaky and dry, with the peaty smokiness lingering after the other elements have faded. The addition of water leads the whisky to fall apart slightly - a more floral, honey-like note comes out on the nose and the 'tang' is flattened.
What's the verdict?
This was a pleasant surprise and much nicer than expected. It is uncomplicated yet enjoyable and the level of peatiness/smokiness would make it a good whisky to introduce someone to the smoky whisky genre. Peaty Tang is also more delicate than the regular sherry cask matured malts from Tomintoul. It offers something different to the regular Speyside whiskies and also gives good value for money at £25-30 a bottle. An interesting whisky.