The “Old Ballantruan” is a peated expression of the single malt distilled at Tomintoul in Speyside. Tomintoul bottles only about 2% of their total output as single malts while the rest is mostly destined for the eight or so brands of blended Scotch produced by owner Angus Dundee.
Nose: Peated sour milk chocolate registers first followed by a mix of some good bits and some strange notes. It remains oddly confusing until it eventually settles into a brighter, grassy peat smoke. But it doesn’t stay there for too long and shifts to fruit… peated bananas and vanilla infused pears perhaps? What IS going on here? The fruits turn mildly perfume-y, eventually. (6.5/10)
Palate: A bright fruity hit descends quickly into scented candles made from shoe polish. The polished shoes must have been stored in my chest cavity because I smell them every time I exhale. Light machine oil and old wood eventually comes through as if I’ve walked into an old office full of old but well maintained typewriters sitting on vintage oak desks. This is actually rather nice! Later it opens up big in the back with a cloud of smoke and crushed blackberries and residual blackberry candy in the front. (8.5/10)
Finish: Warm and smokey on the breath but it does ride rather high before disappearing down the hatch only to reappear near my solar plexus. Oddly quiet in the middle of the chest where it doesn’t really register at all. (8/10)
Balance: This one’s kinda (unexpectedly) wild and kinda (unexpectedly) good. A bumpy ride for sure but not unpleasant at all. It certainly exceeded my expectations for a Tomintoul. That said, the nose does knock some points off of the top here unfortunately. (8/10)