Sunday, January 27, 2008

Last Night's Tipple

Another dram of Tomintoul 16 year old Scotch. When I originally sampled this at Spec's before buying it, I didn't notice any peat at all, just sweet Sherried goodness, and my first full dram a few days ago was much the same. This time, however, I got a big shot of smoke on the nose when I first smelled it, and this smoke persisted for quite some time. It faded out about halfway through the glass. One of the reasons that I find spirits (or, at least, good spirits) endlessly interesting is that every sip can bring a different experience. The spirit evolves in the glass, and it evolves between drams. Undoubtedly, to a large extent, this is not the spirit evolving and changing but rather the taster doing so; but even if my tastes are evolving instead of the spirit, it's still stimulating to experience it happening.

It's not very common to see a bottling of 16 year old Scotch. There are many 15 year old Scotches, and many more 18 year old Scotches; but I can't think of more than a couple 16 year olds. The question with Tomintoul 16 is why the distiller decided to bottle it. Did he decide that 16 years was the perfect age to exhibit a particular set of characteristics that he wanted to exhibit? Well, maybe, but I figure that it was more of a marketing decision. Tomintoul is relatively unknown, so a 15 year old Tomintoul would lose out when competing with a 15 year old from a more well-known distillery. A 16 year old, however, would have an advantage among age-conscious consumers; and the evaporation loss between 15 and 16 years wouldn't be very much. A 16 year old Tomintoul is more likely to be economically viable than a 15 year old, in other words.

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