Tormore 12 year old is reviewed by Steve Crotty.
Tormore 12 year old
Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Approximate price £20 – 25
Whisky distillers bask in the history and culture of their product. Each bottle has its own story to tell, essentially a paraphrased version of the roots of the distillery that would be delivered by the relevant tour guide. I along with many whisky geeks throughout the world adore this about whisky. I love reading about the ancient origins of the distillery, how it was founded by one bedraggled but dedicated Scotsman, who built it with nothing more than his bare hands and furious anger, leaving his faithful chicken to keep a night time vigil lest any unscrupulous local clergy try to sabotage his ungodly work. Imagine my surprise then when I purchased my first bottle of Tormore to discover the distillery had been constructed in 1959. 1959? Many of my family are older than that! However we are not here to judge a whisky on its backstory…
Tormore is part of the vast Chivas Brothers Empire but I can imagine many of you saying that you’ve never heard of it. Truth is neither had I until I received it as a Christmas present last year (thanks Mum and Dad). A little research unveiled the fact that the majority of their produce goes into Chivas’ many blends, meaning that the single malt expressions are few and far between. Of these the 12 year old is the standard expression that you are most likely to come across in any specialist retailer (mine was bought in the excellent Whisky Shop in Stamford Bridge, well worth visiting if you are traversing your way through Yorkshire at any time).
On balance it seems great value for money. Trying to find a 12 year old for this sort of price is difficult; most distillers will make you shell out more for their 10 year old expressions than this. The colour is excellent too, a radiant toffee hue in the bottle that turns to a light caramel when poured into the glass. However this is also Tormore’s major downfall.
The nose is not one for the connoisseur; it is bland to the point of being offensive. Smell it and you will want to go back and check the bottle to make sure you’ve bought a whisky. Any malt in there? Fruit? Anything? I felt like shouting into the glass to ask if it had forgotten to effervesce. Feeling generous, I let it get to body temperature before giving it another chance. This allowed the faintest hint of caramel to be noticed but even that could have been a projection from my own mind that was subconsciously garnered from the colour of the thing.
Feeling slightly aggrieved, I took an apprehensive sip, which allowed Tormore to win me back slightly. This is unbelievably smooth, so smooth you are barely aware you’ve drank it. I was convinced it had turned to vapour in my mouth before it had chance to come into contact with my larynx. Caramel is present and not unpleasant on the aftertaste but even this is only whispered when it really needed to shout. The aftertaste is devoid of any malt kick that I could discern; indeed I’d finished the glass before I realised that I was still waiting for something.
This is for the single malt drinker who doesn’t like single malt or whisky of any kind, hence it is pointless. In its favour it is so clear and smooth that it would not offend anyone. To try it any other way than neat would be churlish. When I tried it with water I tasted slightly alcoholic water. Mixing it with coke or lemonade made it taste only of the mixer and nothing else. From a 12 year old you would expect some oak presence at the very least, but Tormore delivers less than a workshy postman on his last day before retirement.
Has this whisky been made with any love? Do the Chivas Brothers head honchos even care? A quick check reveals no distillery website; a first in the whiskies I have reviewed to date. It is almost as if it has been made as an afterthought, that without the history to back it up no one seems interested in giving Tormore the craft and attention that any good single malt merits. £23 is good value for a 12 year old single malt, but isn’t good value for a Tormore. Buy one of the many Chivas blends it supports instead, though don’t expect to find much evidence of it in them.
Overall Rating 4.5/10