Cigar Aficionado

Tomintoul Expands Single-Malt Range

Tomintoul single-malt Scotch has added a peated whisky as well as a Sherry-finished 12-year-old to the whiskies that it sends to the United States through Mystique Brands. Tomintoul (pronounced TOM-IN-TOWEL) is a Speyside single malt that was unavailable in America until recent years.

The new whiskies are called Tomintoul Peated and Tomintoul 12-year-old Limited Edition, Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish. They join a range, which includes 10-, 16- and 27-year-old expressions. The peated expression adds smoke and a spiciness to a whisky that describes itself as "the gentle dram." The other Tomintoul expressions are anomalies in that they are not peated. The barley grains in Scotch whiskies are typically dried with peat smoke. The other new Tomintoul expression, the 12-year-old, is distinguished by its final 18 months of maturation, which are achieved in barrels previously used to make Sherry.

As well as being relatively new to the U.S. market, Tomintoul is made in a distillery that is one of the youngest in the pantheon of Scotland's whisky plants. The Tomintoul distillery was founded in 1964 during the malt whisky shortage of that decade that saw a dozen or so distilleries created. The founders picked the location for the source of its pure water, the Ballantruan Spring. Although modern, the distillery's setting in the rural Glenlivet Estate is particularly stunning. (The distillery is not related to The Glenlivet, which is situated nearby in the same valley.)

The town for which Tomintoul is named is the highest village in the Highlands region. The town was late to be incorporated (end of the eighteenth century), partially owing to the snows that isolate it a great deal in the winter months. Such isolation also gave rise to the area's rich history of whisky smuggling.

Although most of the distillery's product goes into the blends of the parent company, Angus Dundee, Tomintoul joined the single-malt trend early on, issuing its first such bottling in 1974.

The 27-year-old Tomintoul is particularly enticing. Its color is honey and deep amber, and it displays slow, narrow legs. The nose is floral and slightly anise, but tight. Then it explodes on the palate with plenty of spice, anise and hard candy. There is a fruitiness that smacks of plums. Nuts and milk chocolate appear on a finish that goes on and on.