I have to confess that I don't think I'd heard of Tomintoul before now; if I'd seen it in a shop, I'd have wondered if it was one of those 'invented' distilleries that certain shops use to disguise their own brands.
But it's a real distillery, in Speyside. It's nice to find that it's owned by Angus Dundee Distillers, who have just two distilleries (the other one being Glencadam) – it's a refreshing change to find a small producer in my cupboard.
So, this is the Tomintoul 10 Year Old, a 40% "gentle dram". It's a nice pale straw colour in the glass and if the nose is anything to go by, that "gentle dram" tagline is well justified. It's sweet, with vanilla toffee blending tantalisingly with the generous alcohol.
With water, both the sweetness and alcohol is cut back, revealing some spice and just a hint of oak.
It's initially smooth in the mouth, with more of that almost creamy toffee sweetness to start. That then leads into quite a harsh, raw grain alcohol taste which is a little unsettling. The finish is warmer, spice and tannin which lingers quite pleasantly.
Watered, the sweetness is still there at the start although less toffee. That raw grain has gone, and the spice finish is still there but less tannic. It's a shame to lose that creamy toffee start, but it makes it an all round more balanced dram.
I'm slightly surprised by the rawness in the middle, considering the 10 years in the barrel. It's not a perfect dram, but it's intriguing. I may not bother with seeking out this edition, but my interest is piqued enough to look out for their other expressions.
This review was originally published 25th April, 2012. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.