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Sunday, 8 November 2015

Tomintoul Peaty Tang Whisky Review!

A completely new distillery for me, and quite an uncommon whisky in these parts. Tally-ho!

Located in Speyside, near it's namesake village, Tomintoul (pronounced 'tom-in-towl') is a relatively young distillery, having opened in 1964. With a production capacity of around 3,000,000 litres, it's a little smaller than it's closest neighbour, Glenlivet, although the majority of it's production goes into blends. There are also quite a few different single malt expressions available, ranging from a 10yo to a 23yo, along with a couple of cask finished expressions. Of particular interest to me, though, is their peated whisky!

Tomintoul 'Peaty Tang' is the only peated malt officially bottled by the distillery (they do produce another, sold under the name 'Old Ballantruan'), and doesn't have much competition from it's close neighbours in that regard. For now, at least. This bottling has actually done quite well for itself, having picked up a few awards & medals, including receiving a pretty good score from everyone's favourite hat-wearing reviewer (yes, that was sarcasm.) a few years ago.

It's a reasonably priced peated single malt, but unfortunately there's very little other information available. The distillery's own website and the label and packaging tell us basically nothing, other than the fact that it was made from peated malted barley. Very helpful!

Interestingly, the other peated whisky produced by the distillery, Old Ballantruan, is bottled at 50%, and is non-chill filtered. So I have to wonder why Tomintoul chose to deviate from that for their official bottling, and go for the lower 40% strength and chill filtration? Perhaps they're just trying to keep the price down, but I have no doubt it would be more successful at 46% and non chill-filtered, ala Benromach Peat Smoke. But enough of all that, let's taste it!
Tomintoul Peaty Tang, NAS, 40%. Speyside, Scotland.
Very little information available. Assuming it's ex-bourbon cask (probably re-fill) matured, and chill filtered

Colour: Light gold

Nose: Interesting! Old copper coins, wet grass, rotting root vegetables. Salted potato chips, something a little floral as well. Mild vanilla bean, and drying malt sweetness in the background.

Texture: Thin, and a little watery, but I've had worse at this strength. Should have been 46% though!

Taste: Vegetal peat, a little pepper, and a little dry, ashy smoke as well. Some more vanilla bean, a little green fruit, and more of those rotting root vegetables. Tastes better than that sounds, though!

Finish: Soft and quite short, as expected, but pleasant enough. Dry smoke, more vegetal peat, some dry white wine, and some grist-y malt.

Score: 3 out of 5. 

Notes: Certainly something different, and a little challenging! Not what I expected, especially considering it's Speyside origins! Some very interesting flavours there, which may not be for everyone, but that's probably the idea! 

Certainly good quality as well, but I can't help but wish it was bottled at 46%, and was non-chill filtered. I have no doubt it would've scored higher if that was the case. Which makes me want to try the other peated malt made by Tomintoul distillery, Old Ballantruan, which is 10 years old, bottled at 50% and is non-chill filtered.

But then, that bottling is nearly double the price of the Peaty Tang, so perhaps that's not a fair comparison. That said, even at this low price point (around $80 here), the Peaty Tang has some serious competition from some big players, namely the 10yo bottling's from Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Ledaig. But if you've had your fill of those, or if they don't push your buttons, and you're after something different, this peated Tomintoul definitely fits that bill. 

A big thanks to Craig from Nippy Sweetie Whiskies for the sample of this one, I'm very glad to have tried this very interesting malt! Craig & team are doing excellent work, constantly coming up with more hard-to-find bottling's, many of which are shipped direct from Scotland. Including some very interesting-looking independent bottling's from Cadenhead's, among many others (Laphroaig 21yo, anyone?). I highly recommend keeping tabs on their website. 

Cheers!