The Tomintoul Distillery distillery is situated in the “Strath” or valley between the Glenlivet Forest and the hills of Cromdale, east of the Avon River. Like nearly all distilleries of the region, Tomintoul was built to produce whisky for blending purposes, and although single- malt releases from Tomintoul have been available since 1973, they remained relatively hard to come by until the 1990s.
Even still, little was done until 2000 when Angus Dundee Distillers PLC took over and revitalized the place and essentially (re)created the brand. At last word, only a relatively small percentage of the more than 3 million liters of whisky produced there annually is destined for single-malt release — most still goes to blended whiskies.
The man behind the whisky at Tomintoul is Robert Fleming, whose family has been making whisky in the Speyside-Glenlivet region for four generations. He oversees all aspects of production, from still room to maturation and bottling. Tomintoul uses both American and European oak and offers a full range of whiskies, from a no-age statement heavily peated (Peaty Tang) malt to a 36-year-old limited edition whisky that was distilled in 1976 and bottled in 2013.
One other note of distinction: The whiskies are imported to the United States by Medek Wine & Spirits, a division of the Royal Wine Corp. (“Medek” is “Kedem” spelled backward, a nod and wink to Royal’s original company name and the label of its hugely successful grape juice and kiddush wine brand).
Because of Tomintoul’s connection to Royal, it was persuaded in 2010 to obtain OU kosher certification for several of its single malts (Peaty Tang, and the 10-, 14- and 16-year-old expressions; they even released a limited kosher sherry cask edition).
Here then are several Tomintoul single malt whiskies to enjoy before and after Passover:
Tomintoul Single Malt Scotch Whisky with a Peaty Tang (40 percent abv; around $45): With a beautifully pungent, smoky, peaty, earthy nose, this lovely whisky offers additional complex aromas and flavors of toasted oak, copper, pine nut, sweet barley malt, pepper and something slightly floral. It’s clean, fresh and full, with a long, slightly hot finish. A delightfully peaty malt whisky.
Tomintoul 10-year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (40 percent abv; around $40) is an excellent, easy-drinking, delicate, aperitif-style whisky with a light, floral, malty, toffee nose, with additional notes on the palate of vanilla fudge, apples and lemon, toasted nuts, honey and malt on the finish.
Tomintoul 12-year-old Oloroso Sherry Finish Single Malt Scotch Whisky (40 percent abv; around $70) is basically its 10-year-old whisky that has undergone an additional 18 months or so in ex-Oloroso sherry casks.
This additional European oak finish has added a more profound, fruitcake note to the bouquet, helping to deepen and enrich the whisky’s otherwise slightly grassy, malty, toffee aroma, and fill out its body. This more muscular, slightly silkier whisky also has a comparatively spicy and chewy oak note to it, in addition to notes of wild berry, soft honey, malt, toffee, dried fruits and a slight whisper of smoke. A rich, creamy and delicious 12-year-old whisky.
Tomintoul 14-year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (46 percent abv; around $55): This charming, light, subtle yet vibrant whisky offers aromas and flavors of citrus fruits, vanilla, cream, sweet malted barley, various types of honey, spices and fudge, with a light, elegant, slightly grassy finish. Very hard to put down.
Tomintoul 16-year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (40 percent abv; around $65): This excellent, medium-bodied, gentle and sophisticated whisky offers lovely aromas and flavors of marzipan, espresso, vanilla fudge, cream, dried fruit, a very subtle hint of anise, toffee, pepper and honey, and with remarkable yet improbable hints of mint. Wonderful and a real bargain for the price. L’chaim! n