Tormore (Pronounced: TOR-more)
Cragganmore, Glenfarclas, Glenlivet, Tamdhu
4 Wash stills, 4 Spirit stills
4,100,000 litres of pure alcohol per year
Pernod Ricard > Allied (Domecq) (since 2005)
Grantown On Spey, Moray PH26 3LR, Scotland, UK
No (which is a bit of a shame, really...)
Yes - 10yo in the 1990's, 12yo in the 2000's
Below, on WhiskyFun and on the Malt Maniacs Monitor
Scores & tasting notes:
2003 - A 12yo official bottling of Tormore
(with a cobalt blue tube & label) is released.
This bottling replaces the 10yo and 12yo official expression that were available in the 1990's.
2005 - Chivas Brothers buys Allied Domecq and becomes the new owner of the Tormore distillery. Chivas Brothers is a subsidiary of drinks conglomerate Pernod Ricard - so this acquisition means that their market share has increased.
I can't claim to be amongst the biggest fans of the single malts that are
produced at the Tormore distillery in the heart of Speyside, but I have to
admit it is one of the prettiest distilleries in the area. It's also conveniently
located along one of the main roads in this part of Speyside, so it would be
perfect for a visit - if only they had a visitor centre... However, it seems the
distillery doesn't. Also, they've taken their site www.tormore.com off-line.
Well, they seem not all that keen on communicating with their customers.
Somewhere along the line something must have gone wrong, because the
official bottlings from the 1980's mostly do very well on the MMMonitor and
it wasn't until the 1990's that the quality started to drop. The independent
bottlers managed to find the occasional gem, but the OB's were mediocre.
The Tormore distillery was founded as recently as 1960, circa half a mile from the river Spey. When construction began in 1958 it was one of the first new distillery to be built in the area in the 20th century. Long John International commissioned Sir Albert Richardson to design the distillery that now has the status of 'listed building'. The buildings are made of granite and a clock on the premises plays four different Scottish songs every quarter of an hour. An entire village of workers houses was built in the same style; it was sold in 2004 for £550,000. The hedges in the garden are clipped in the shape of stills or bells.
In 1972 the number of stills at Tormore was expanded from four to eight and the heating
system was converted from coal to steam. And speaking of 'heating'.... When Tormore
distillery was built a lot of attention was paid to the garden, which also includes a long,
rectangular pond. The idea was that during winter time the traditional Scottish game of
curling (a little bit like bowling on ice) could be played. However, the designers had
forgotten all about the heat that would be generated by the still house - not to mention
global warming. As a result, the first game of curling has yet to be played at Tormore.
In 1984 another change was made to the heating system of the stills, allowing them to
be heated by burning wood chips - a by-product of the logging that took place in the
pine forests of the area. This made Tormore distillery just a little bit 'greener'.
When construction of the Tormore distillery was started in 1958, the goal was to produce malt whisky
for the various 'Long John' blends. However, the Tormore malt soon became an ingredient for various
Ballantine's blends as well. Long John International was taken over by Whitbread & Co. in 1975, who
passed on the Tormore distillery to Allied Distillers Ltd. in the same year. This was the start of three
relatively uneventful decades until 2005 when Pernod Ricard purchased the owners Allied Domecq.
The most remarkable events in this period were the introduction of the 'Caledonian Malts' in 1991
by Allied, which included Glendronach, Miltonduff, Laphroaig and Tormore. In Allied's alternative to
Diageo's succesful 'Classic Malts' range, Tormore was later replaced with Scapa.
In 2005 Pernod Ricard bought Allied Domecq, strengthening its position on the whisky market.
They transferred the management of the Tormore distillery to their subsidiary Chivas Brothers who
released a 12 years old official bottling to replace the 10 years old version that had been available
throughout the 1990's. Around the year 2000 a 15 years old official bottling was released as well,
but this expression is very rare and difficult to find. Independent bottlings of Tormore used to be
extremely rare as well during the 20th century, but during the third millennium more independent
bottlings were released - notably by Blackadder, Cadenhead's, Douglas Laing and Signatory.
The malted barley
that is used to
make Tormore is lightly peated. Each
still has a purifier to make the spirit
lighter and these days the whisky is
matured mostly in ex-Bourbon casks.
This would also produce a relatively
'light' single malt whisky.
Tormore has one lauter mash tun and
eight washbacks, all made of stainless
steel. Even though some casks are
stored at the distillery, filling of these
casks takes place in one of the other
facilities of Chivas Brothers in the area.
As you can see from the picture at
the left, the Tormore distillery is very
picturesque. It's conveniently located
too, so in a way it's odd that Tormore
doesn't have a proper visitor centre.
I'd like to finish this
profile with some of
2) The Tormore malt whisky is a major ingredient of the Long John Blends.
That's why Allied also became owners of this brand when they acquired the Tormore distillery.
3) A time capsule in the shape of a pot still (containing glasses, a large bottle of the Long John blend, the names of the Tormore staff in 1960, a history of the clans, samples of barley, local water and cask staves, etc.) is buried on the distillery grounds. The aim is to open the capsule in 2060, a century after the distillery was officially founded.
4) In the river Spey near the Tormore distillery, one of the few remaining beds of freshwater pearl mussels can be found. The fact that the mussels have managed to survive in these waters proves that the water of the Spey river is still relatively pure. Elsewhere, pollution has driven these pearl mussels to extinction. The existence of the bed of pearls has given Tormore its nickname, "the Pearl of Speyside".
5) The brand Long John is used for both blended whiskies and vatted malt whiskies.
Tormore 1982/2011 (55.1%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve for La Maison du Whisky, C#13316, 463 Bts.)
Nose: Very expressive. Odd fruits and loads of other stuff. Spices and the faintest whiff of smoke.
Then more metallic notes emerge. Rhubarb? The spicy elements grow more complex and more pronounced.
Taste: A big, woody start; a typical sherried profile. Loads of tannins. Some rough edges here. Good mouth feel.
Score: 86 points - although it's probably a little too extreme for many people.
Tormore 17yo 1990/2007 (64.6%, The Clydesdale, C#0150/1967, 205 Bts.)
Nose: Round & fruity. An explosion of tropical fruits, like passion fruit. Quite unique.
Taste: Smooth, fruity and well balanced. Strong tannins - again, my kind of profile.
Score: 88 points - surprisingly good for a Tormore; I nominated it for silver at the MM Awards 2008.
Tormore 14yo 1989/2003 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Sherry Butt #909/67, Distilled 2/3/89, Bottled 4/9/03)
Nose: Soft fruitiness. Spicy prickly. Nuts? Not as oily as the 12yo OB from the 1990's.
A mellow sweetness. It lacks complexity, but I like it better than the OB's I've tried.
Taste: Hey, where did the sweetness go? Bitter start. Mellows out in the centre.
Smooth. A short, dry finish with a suggestion of fruits and wood. Some bitterness.
Score: 75 points - a decent single malt whisky and the best Tormore I've tried until 2003.
Tormore 12yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2003, Cobalt blue tube & label)
Nose: Sweet and malty - not as oily as its 10yo predecessor. Tea leaves and spices.
Unfortunately, the oil from the 1990's bottling I tried returns after a minute.
Taste: Sweet for the first few seconds, then it falls apart and becomes nutty and oily.
Towards the end it evolves into a bitter burn that's just a tad to prominent for me.
Score: 69 points - a little more complex than the 1990's 10yo bottling, I think - especially the start.
Tormore 13yo 1984/1997 (63.9%, Cadenhead's - tasted blind)
Nose: Aaaah! Big and sweet - then a hint of oil. Hmm... More oil. Maybe the faintest hint of smoke?
Amazing, this falls apart within seconds. Oh wait, now it recovers again. A little creamy. Still not a lot of character.
Taste: Hhhhmmm... Very questionable start, but it grows sweeter and fruitier.
Woody and cool on the palate. Not enough personality for a positive identification.
Preliminary score: 70 points. Balvenie? Glenfiddich? Glenlivet?
Second try: Polished, more wood than the first time. Tea leaves. Pipe tobacco? Some sour notes - sorrel? Rhubarb?
Once again some breathing seems to have had a lot of effect. Interesting, hard to find any specifics, though...
Not so much improvement on the palate, I'm afraid. A tad too dry and woody for me.
Indeed something metallic. Smoke. Alltogether not quite good enough to make the 80's.
But what could it be? There's not a lot of 'Speyside' area east of my first guesses.
I don't think it's Aultmore, Strathisla, Strathmill or Glen Keith. Or Auchroisk / Singleton.
Revised score: 78 points - It seems the Caol Ila knocked me off course last time.
Second guesses: Inchgower, Ardmore, Glentauchers. I'm really just guessing here.
Tormore 10yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 1995)
Nose: Grainy start, growing maltier but remaining middle of the road. Maybe a faint hint of oil?
Grassy perhaps? Nothing really stands out here - pretty much like a blend (but a good one).
Taste: Smooth start - one could almost say watery. Picks up in the centre, growing sweeter.
Malty, but I seem to detect a sourish undercurrent. Other than that, not very expressive.
Score: 68 points - I'd really have to put this Tormore in another league than plain 'below average' malts.
These were not all (official & independent) bottlings of Tormore Scotch whisky I've tried over the years.
Besides, these tasting notes only reflect my own, personal opinion; your tastes might be different from mine.
Fortunately, you can find the scores and tasting notes from up to two dozen other whisky lovers in the 'Malt Maniacs Monitor' - an independent whisky database with details on more than 15,000 different whiskies from Scotland and the rest of the world. Visit the Tormore page on the MMMonitor and select 'scorecard view' if you want to know how other whisky lovers felt about the dozens of Tormore expressions that were released in recent years. However, if you'd like to learn more about whisky in general (and single malt Scotch whisky in particular), you might want to check out the Beginner's Guide to Scotch whisky (10 chapters filled with everything you need to fully enjoy and appreciate a glass of single malt whisky) or the mAlmanac (sort of a rudimentary whisky shopping guide.)
Is the distillery or