Tormore 2002 Cote Rotie Wood Finish Single Malt Review
'Tor-What? Never heard of it!' I know, until recently I hadn't heard of Tormore either. However, please don't let a fear of the unknown prevent you from reading on. Most of us tend to stick with the familiar, brands and names we recognise and therefore to a certain extent trust. These are the brands that are ultimately presented in supermarkets and the usual bottle shops because they know that they will sell. So when presented with the choice of spending £40 on a bottle of Glenfiddich or some unknown, never heard of before distillery, many of us go with the safe option.
The thing is there a multitude of distilleries out there that don't receive the hype or attention that the big brands do and yet may offer, and often times very much surpass the experience provided by the big guns. The very reason I started writing about whisky was that about five years ago I decided to branch out into the unfamiliar, to explore the wide array of whiskies available to broaden my horizons and get away from being just tied to a small array of brands that were repeatedly touted as the best on offer (mainly due to big marketing budgets). That decision got me hooked. Variety is after all the spice of life and as such it is rare that I continually buy the same bottle, instead I wander through the choices on offer looking for new experiences and taking punts on expressions new to me. As this humble blog has shown so far it is a gamble, some punts are good, others are very, very bad....but that is why I enjoy exploring the water of life.
Now across the choppy stretch of water known as the Irish Sea there exists a rather shady society of whisky nuts known as The Tormore 4. Two members (@maltreview & @whisky_rover) of this clandestine operation would frequently spout off about the 'pearl' that is Tormore. I noticed that every time they mentioned this distillery that an expression would suddenly become unavailable from the market. Anyway, I grabbed my chance with this independently bottled Cote Rotie wine finished 2002 vintage Tormore and decided to see what the all the fuss and bluster was about!
Tormore is a relatively new distillery in Speyside, founded in 1958 and pretty much all of its spirit was destined for blends. In 2004 though a 12 year old expression was launched as the official distillery bottling. Now under the ownership of Chivas Brothers the 12 year old has been replaced by a 14 year old bottled at 43% and a 16 year old bottled at 48%. Both expressions are matured in American oak and were first rolled out in France before being introduced to other markets.
This particular example has been produced by the famed independents Gordon & MacPhail, established in 1895 and very much a reliable source of good whisky. Distilled in July 2002 and bottled in March 2017 this is a 14 year old expression that has spent the first 12 years or so being matured in first fill bourbon barrels before having a 20 month finish in Cote Rotie red wine casks from Guigal, one of the Rhone Valley's most famous producers. It is bottled at the unusual strength of 45% and is one of only 4000 bottles, of which one would set you back around £53.
Copper with a pink blush
A powerfully rich arrival, cherry lips, butter cream filling, marzipan, strawberry jam, hint of leather. A splash of water highlights ginger, orange peel and amplifies the red fruit.
A mix of strawberry and blackcurrant chewits, hint of orange, toffee, ginger, allspice and praline. Water makes is slightly creamier in feel with more nuttiness and fruitiness.
Long, sweet and complex.
Personally I loved this whisky. Although complex, it was balanced and it gave me plenty to think about and importantly enjoy as I lingered over my dram. The nose is wonderful and it carries through to the palate and finish. Compared to similar products from Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and other supermarket shelf fillers of a like age and price....well, really there is no comparison....this Tormore obliterates them. A cracking dram and for once, I would like to buy another bottle please! Enough said.