Some are happy drinking the same whisky their entire life. Others branch out a bit, discover the world of single malt whisky, and slowly start building their collection. A visit to a whisky festival follows, a trip to Scotland might be booked. They submerge themselves into the world of whisky, start trading samples with other whisky nuts and may host a few tastings in their own home. Soon, if their not careful, they’re buying more than they’re actually drinking.
A next natural step might be to explore the possibilities of buying an entire cask, and maybe even trying their hand at this independent bottler thing. It’s something I’ve never done (and don’t plan on doing), but I can only admire the folk that take the plunge. Like Jop Boer with 3006 Whisky, or Erik Molenaar from Kintra. And now you can add Torsten Paul Zimmerman to the list.
The whisky community in The Netherlands is small and I often bump into the same people wherever I go. Yet, I’ve never met Torsten. We’ve exchanged a few messages on Instagram. I know that he’s a brand ambassador for The Single Cask, and he’s obviously passionate about whisky, otherwise he wouldn’t have started the Torsten Paul Whisky Company. Torsten mentioned that his journey with his independent bottling company was very much a learning process, and I’m impressed and glad that he is willing to share that process with us!
He seems to like tattoos as well, as the first two whiskies he released are bottled under the Scotch & Tattoos series. Both are young and both have been finished in an octave cask. One is a Dalmore (you don’t see many independents from Dalmore!) that spent a bit of time in an ex-Aultmore oloroso octave. The other is a Dailuaine finished in an ex-Islay octave. Torsten was kind enough to send me a sample of both.
Dalmore 2013 5 Years Old (59.9%, Torsten Paul Whisky Company, 2019)
Nose: A little shy, but there’s some faint forest fruits, like blackberries and brambles. A light and subtle cocoa powder and cherry syrup aroma, with quite a bit of oak shavings, maybe even a sliver of smoke? Nah, no smoke after all. Taste: A nice bit of sweetness (caramel, honey) quickly gets overtaken by a pronounced dryness, with a touch of mint and some intense spices. Quite a bit of oak tannins as well. Finish: Astringent with subtle spices. Short.
Dailuaine 2011 7 Years Old (59.3%, Torsten Paul Whisky Company, C#800449A)
Nose: Very sweet, with hints of banana candy and marzipan, followed by a touch of wood shavings. Then there’s room for bitter orange peel, triple sec and apple skin as well. Very bourbon-y. I don’t really get the Islay influence. Taste: Quite intense and spicy (cloves, cracked black peppercorns), with a whisper of sweetness, but fairly dry as well with a touch of smoke and mint. Little more syrupy with water, but the oak influence remains dominant. Finish: Short to medium in length. Cherries. Drying.
To be totally honest, I wonder how much the finishing period in an octave cask actually improved the original whisky. Both are supercharged oak-infused spirits, with some good elements, and some a little less good.