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Tomintoul 21 Year Old

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WReview by @Wierdo

9th Nov 2018


Tomintoul 21 Year Old
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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This was a 3cl miniature bottle I got free when I brought a bottle of Balblair online. I've poured it out and let it sit for an hour.


Orchard fruits. Pears, green apples, cut grass, heather, a hint of dried fruit in the background and curiously plasticine. Quite a clean nose but that plasticine note is a bit strange.


Quite a thin mouthfeel (it is bottled at 40% abv). That plasticine note is quite evident on the palate too. Right there on the arrival. It's an unusual flavour and an unwelcome one too. Orchard fruits again. Heather. Not much in the way of dried fruits. I don't have the label to see but I don't think this has spent any time in sherry casks. Quite a long development with a white wine note, pears, straw and more plasticine. Finish is drawn out, actually quite nice with a bit of peat. And then jesus here comes the plasticine again on the finish. It runs right through every element of the palate and ruins it. You get past the initial plasticine note and then it starts to hint at getting quite nice and then the plasticine kicks in again.

I don't know what that is due too? Duff casks? Maybe I just had a sample from a bad bottle? But at nearly £100 a bottle I won't be a buying a full bottle on this experience.

I'd still recommend the 14 year old though. The bottle I had of that last year was very nice.

Related Tomintoul reviews


Victor commented

@Wierdo, thanks very much for your review. When I have an experience like yours with a small sample I cannot help but have it bias me negatively toward the whisky, despite knowing that that one sample might be unrepresentative. When that occurs I go forward hoping to get another experience of the whisky, hopefully from someone's full-sized bottle. The whisky remains in a negatively biased limbo state of non-acceptance for me until later experience can give a decisively better tasting outcome. We never know in advance how much storage or transport circumstances may have affected the sample which we are about to evaluate, but we are also stuck with the reality of the actual experiences we have had.

Evidence of our own experience being a possible outlier experience is also great when most other reviews of the same product have been quite favourable.

5 years ago 2Who liked this?

RianC commented

@Wierdo - Reminds me of my experience with Glencadam 10. A nice enough whisky but it had a Play Doh note in it that I just couldn't get over.

Like you, I'd guess it's of cask origin but I'd like to know a bit more about that as I've never encountered it again (seems quite unusual too) and the older ones get very decent reviews.

The study of Plasticine in whisky - Morph-ology? I'll get me coat smile

5 years ago 2Who liked this?

Wierdo commented

I wondered @Victor if you think when we get an obviously bad sample we should refrain from reviewing? On the one hand it's useful for people to know that their is potentially a tainted batch of Tomintoul 21 out there. On the other hand it seems perhaps a bit harsh to give a scathing review of a whisky based on a very limited experience of it.

I have last year's whisky bible and Jim Murray gave this 94 and said if it has been 46% it would have been pushing 100. Now I don't always agree with Murray's reviews and his hyperbole and sometimes shake my head at his scores. But he obviously reviewed a whisky that wasn't just a mouthful of plasticine and I did get hints that this actually could be a very good whisky before the plasticine taste kicked in again.

5 years ago 0

Victor commented

@Wierdo, the outlier poor bottles are legitimate candidates for review, too. Why? Because if you were the one to buy that bottle, that would be 100% of your experience, and it might leave a scar. We do no one a favour to pretend that poor bottles and inferior batches do not occur.

When I have had a bad experience with a whisky which I had expected to be much better I will usually post the review of the non-pleasing product and then later seek out another sample of said whisky from a different bottle. If the results are quite different from the first encounter, then I am very happy to post the new findings, either in a new review, comments on the first review, or on other discussion pages. The idea is to inform those reading about the experiences one might also have with that whisky, not to try to absolutize an image of the whisky in question as either outstanding or reprehensible. Whisky lovers often have such enthusiasm that they want to deify or demonise the products they taste. There is a lot more variation and gray in the whisky world than enthusiasts would like to accept.

I would refrain from posting a review if I had any strong suspicion that the storage conditions of the sample under consideration might have caused it deteriouration.

5 years ago 3Who liked this?

OdysseusUnbound commented

@Wierdo I agree with @Victor 100%. You can look up my two reviews of Glenfarclas 12 to see that poor quality/outlier bottles need to be reviewed too. I hit a really bad one the first time. Luckily for me, Glenfarclas went out of their way to make it right. After I got the replacement bottle, it was clear that my initial review was correct: the first bottle was indeed tainted in some way...

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

Robert99 commented

@Wierdo For me plasticine is one form of the clay family flavor and it could be ok with a peaty or farmyard kind of whisky but that Tomintoul has definitely a profile that can’t tolerate that note imho.

5 years ago 0