Let’s talk about ‘Feints’ for just a second. Only one, because that’s all I can spare.
Think for a moment about the ‘cut’ of the spirit. In the second distillation of a Scotch whisky, there is normally a cut taken. Head, heart & tail which is really foreshots, heart and feints, I call beginning, middle and end. It is the split between what you take and what you don’t. What is your whisky and what is recycled endlessly into oblivion.
How large the cut depends on the distillery and the equipment. Macallan revel in the fact that they take a very small cut of spirit. Laphroaig has a really long foreshots cut, like 40 minutes or something crazy. While some have as little as 5 minutes. And others, like Octomore at Bruichladdich, take as much of the heart into the feints as possible to get certain flavours.
The reason they do this is that the foreshots contains a lot of methanol and ethanol. So they can’t use it but it needs to be recycled to save the alcohol. Equally, towards the end of the distillation, the spirit drops in abv and more heavy oils (called fusel oils) start to come into the spirit. This is the feints.
The feints can contain certain things you want in the whisky, like phenols that give you that wonderful smoky flavour to many of the Islay whiskies. Equally, too much feints will give you a ‘feinty’ flavour to the whisky. If you’ve ever worked in a distillery, as I’ve been lucky enough to, you’ll know when you get home you absolutely reek of feints. They are very aromatic, and not in a particularly pleasant way, although the actual aroma is difficult to describe. They are often said to smell of weird things that shouldn’t belong in whisky: mushroom, fishy and cheesy.
Why am I telling you all this? Because Tobermory is the king of the feints!
Tobermory 15 Marsala finish 56.2%
Colour: Light amber
Nose: Funky and a bit odd, leather, an old pantry with cheeses and cured meats, funky, green apple, lemon citrus. Interesting nose, but won’t be everyone’s thing.
Taste: Soft and then quickly spicy, gingerbread, black pepper, white pepper, liquorice, cumin, pretty complex spices coming through.
Finish: Long. Oaky, malt chocolate, very dry with a little orange and much more cumin.
A really good one for the lesser Ledaig-ling. Showing off the interesting and well done version of Feinty.
Average Score: 80.0
Distillery Ranking: 9th/ 60 places
Thanks for reading!
Scotch Review #626
Whisky Network Review #744
Network Average: 74.9
Best Score: 94
Worst Score: 12
60-64 Just About OK
65-69 Ok to Good
75-79 Very Good
Full Disclosure Disclaimer: I currently work as a Brand Ambassador for Penderyn Distillery. The views expressed here are purely my own and do not reflect the views of Penderyn Distillery or The Welsh Whisky Company. I try to maintain as much objectivity as I can but feel free to take my reviews with as big a pinch of salt as you like. Furthermore, my rating scale is NOT based on a Parker type wine scoring scale or a school/college/university % or A-F grade score. You can find more on my scoring here. I apologise for any seemly low or 'bad' scores given with my system and I am sorry I can't say only nice things. Please keep in mind that I am ethically compromised and I am unable to produce 100% unbiased reviews.