Radiant, Smiling Odalisque: The Exclusive Malts 1984 Tormore 29 Year Old

IMG_20140319_144118_246You’re at a dinner party when, suddenly, everyone ups and leaves the table, stranding you there alone with someone you know very little about. She’s beautiful, so it would be wrong to say you’re annoyed or feel abandoned by your crew, but this woman doesn’t seem to have much to say and her accent, at first, is impenetrable – she’s trying to communicate something, and you’re trying to decipher what it is, but you can’t make head or tail of it. There is something about her perfume, however; it’s compelling and becomes more compelling by the minute. You focus on that and, soon enough, you’re learning to unravel what she has to say and, ahh, what she’s saying gets you very excited!

Leaning in even closer, intimately closer, you see that she’s not as young as she at first appeared to be, but, getting to know and understand her now, you find her all the more engaging, enthralling even, and this experience once again confirms that the wisdom of age beats the sparkle of youth every time. After all, you’re no spring chicken yourself…

Appearance

She’s beautiful, as I said: A limpid gold like translucent copper shimmering in the morning sun. And she coats the glass like pellucid skin, dissolving into multitudes of threading legs that soon drape the glass like a flapper’s tasseled décolletage… Is it me or is it getting warm in here? (10/10)

Nose

First comes an aroma redolent of good bourbon or corn whiskey, but it’s vibrating at a higher frequency somehow. The overall impression is one of freshness and firmness, fresher than a 29 year old whisky has any right to be. But that is tempered by sweet malt and solid oak from what I can only imagine was a tight, high quality cask.

Other distinct aromas line up and present themselves: Granny Smith apples; the sound hole of an older guitar with a red cedar soundboard; banana chips; the breath of a colleague who’s been chewing a stick of Big Red cinnamon gum for ten minutes; freshly sawn oak flooring; Bolthouse Farms’ Vanilla Chi tea.

And there are two related, elusive aromas it took my brain a while to identify: Candy Corn, the Halloween candy, and those cheap gummy orange marshmallow confections called Circus Peanuts that never tasted like peanuts of any kind but had a very distinctive and pleasant, sweet, banana-orange-confectionary aroma.

Lots to like and nothing to dislike here, though it takes patience and effort to pull it all out. (18/20)

Palate

Where possible, the palate of this whisky reflects the nose – especially the bourbon, barley malt and fine oak, but adds fresh cooked sugar cookies, almonds, cinnamon, clove, a bit of prune juice and once again those cheap Halloween confections, Candy Corn and Circus Peanuts, but also the more immediate pleasure of demerara sugar melting on the tongue.

The demerara is emphasized by the addition of a little water, which also calms down the tannic dry ginger spiciness just a bit. Otherwise, water doesn’t do much to this elixir – it just gives back all of the good things that were there before, but amplified to a small degree. And it also brings out the Twinkies, which is a much better taste in a whisky than I would have thought.

The interest and variety found in the nose are expanded on the palate. Pretty damn wondrous if you ask me… (19/20)

Finish

Long, sweet, spicy, tannic and drying – all good things if kept in balance – but quite hot (not all that surprising with an ABV of 51.4%), even with the addition of plentiful water. And the combination of gingery spice and heat, though it does reach the chest, is more focused on the tongue and upper throat. A flaw, a failing or a foible, take your pick, but not one of sufficient magnitude to render this anything less than a fine whisky overall. (15/20)

Balance/Structure

Everything about this whisky is firm and fresh – by which I mean solid, intense and lively. Still, it doesn’t resemble a young or otherwise under-aged whisky at all. There is no spirituous taste here, but neither does it impress as overly rounded-off or subdued by age. The wood is there – this was casked for 29 years, after all – but it is distinct, firm and strong, not soggy or doddering in any way, as if the cask and even the cellular structure of the oak staves making up the cask were tighter than those in your typical barrel somehow. I suspect this was matured in a rather frigid corner of the warehouse. And again: Everything feels wonderfully integrated, nothing feels disintegrated. Nearly everything in the nose reappears and works to enrich the palate, which expands from there. The more I drank from this bottle, the more I savored and appreciated it: A fine, well-built, well-tended whisky. (18/20)

Quality of the Buzz

Sensuality as sensation, the soft vibration of a satisfied desire. It’s like waking up on a Sunday morning after a long, satisfying sleep, your head still buried in a soft down pillow while your elusive but unperturbing dreams dissolve. There is something, though: The room you’re waking up in, though not exactly chilly, isn’t as warm as you’d like it to be.

So, Femme, yes, but not femme fatale.

And while this isn’t the metaphysical vortex of seductive profundity one can reach after a few deep drams of some of the more outré Longrows and Ledaigs, it is a no less compelling pleasure. This buzz is more sensual, more sultry, more hedonistic and restful – Debussy at his most engulfed, a liquid equivalent of Jules Lefebvre’s glowing, smiling concubine, Djémilé. Was that her name, that woman at the table? (7/10)

Total points for this whisky: 87

http://www.impexbev.com/exclusive-malts

Lefebvre’s DjémiléJules_Joseph_Lefebvre_-_Djémilé

Debussy’s Engulfed Cathedral

One thought on “Radiant, Smiling Odalisque: The Exclusive Malts 1984 Tormore 29 Year Old

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