Tormore 31 1988 The Whisky Agency Heads & Tails

What was the occasion: I’m at my end-of-year tasting, meaning it’s time for all of us to open bottles that cost a bit more, which we, as North Americans, assume are better. Luckily we’re all whisky nerds, so we have some idea of what we’re buying… sometimes. Most of the time.

What whisky did we review? Tormore 31 1988 The Whisky Agency, a single cask bottled by The Whisky Agency and Heads & Tails, Canada. It’s cask strength, from 1988, and was matured in a hogshead, most likely an ex-bourbon cask.

What’s the distillery? Tormore is… Wait, what is Tormore? The other distilleries I have a bunch of ideas and know things, but Tormore? Tormore is the guy you run into 12 years after high school who says “we were in history together once” and you nod and walk back slowly.

Tormore was constructed in 1958, making it very young as a Scotch distillery and very old if it was a pygmy shrew. It was owned by Pernod Ricard since 2005, until it was bought out by Elixir Distillers recently (foreshadowing to a bunch of future reviews).

Tormore has distillery bottling and they pop up in independent bottlers, but it’s Tormore. Kid from the back of history class. Some day they may make it rich or get sick or do something tremendously stupid and you’ll barely remember them, but you don’t hear so much because they are only a few decades old.

What’s my bias? I don’t really have one. Seriously, this is the third Tormore I’ve ever reviewed. I can tell you right now that 1988 is rumoured to be a “golden year” for the distillery, and the amount of 1988 independent bottles that cost big bucks isn’t small, but it’s Tormore. My whisky friends and I only buy it when we’re sure it’s actually worth it. Because we’re uncultured.

Whisky Agency and Heads & Tails though? My bias is huge. Check my reviews, it’s on display. I’ve drank with the owner of Heads & Tails. I’ve had very good whiskies from him. So when I see their bottles, I have high standards. I’m hyped for this.

But it’s the third time trying a Tormore and I’m still trying to remember what I even learned in history class, let alone who sat behind me (just kidding Dan, I remember you huffing glue back there), so it’s another whisky to kick off the tasting.

So let’s see how it tastes, shall we?

Price: $400.00 CAD

Region: Speyside

Vintage: 1988

Bottled: 2019

Cask type: Hogshead

Abv: 42.1%

Colour: 7.5 Y 9/8

Nose: Diesel, roast pear, honey hives, honeydew melon

Initial rough industrial note gives way to a woody note and some floral aspects. Eventually you pull out more fruit and some melon.

It’s what people describe Tormore as. It’s spent a bit long in the cask, and it’s light, but I do enjoy the complexity I can get to. And it’s not as weak as the weak whiskies I had for my birthday, so there’s that.

Seriously though, it’s less light than expected given the greedy angels. And how long ago 1988 was, for those of you who are in Gen X and Millennials who need to be reminded you’re old.

Taste: Blueberry, anise, oak, peanut brittle, ginger

Fruity, spice, some nuttiness, and some ginger. Yeah, it’s a Tormore. It’s a good mix of flavours, and the additional oak is making it sweeter and tasty, but when people describe Tormore as “melon and nutty”, this does it.

Is it “OMG 31 year old golden year” whisky amazing? No. It’s tasty though.

Finish; Black pepper, violets, black licorice, caramel

Nice mix of floral, more anise/sugar, and black pepper. It’s a fun finish, nothing off, nothing too deep save for a sudden floral note that pops up.

Conclusion: Light, interesting, fun. Probably should have started with this over the Ardlair, and it’s probably the most “okay” Tormore I’ve ever had. Note that it’s also the oldest one I’ve had and the second Tormore from this independent bottler I’ve had.

What does that all mean? Don’t go into this whisky saying “31 years old!”, go into this whisky saying “solid Tormore”. It took some time and they made an interesting whisky that’s fun. That’s alright. It’s alright to have fun, I said so.


Scotch review #1616, Speyside review #465, Whisky Network review #2343

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