You might be surprised to hear that the Tomatin 36 year old has received the ‘Best Scotch’ award at the San Francisco World Spirit Competition. With a price tag of 525£ it is just slightly out of my league but I could come up with about 8 really great whiskies that I would rather spend that money on. I don’t think this medal is going to influence our decision whether or not to buy this distilleries juice. The rebranding of their range has definitely made them look more appealing. But as always, we care more about what inside the bottle. Lets see…
Tomatin 12 , 43% vol., 2017
S: 4 G: 5 P: 2 / Color: gold / Score: 76
Starts on vanilla and the scent of violets. There is some active oak involved which keeps it on the fresh side. I also detect broken branches, unripe sour lemons and vegetable stock. It has a funny chalk and sawdust smell to it as well. On the palate: Sweet and soft with vanilla fudge and a prickle from the barrel. The mouthfeel is quite light. Some garden herbs, like mint and thyme, could be found as well. Any fruit you ask? Yes, some slightly unripe apricots and pineapples. Finishes on a medium length and gets a little drying. Not a bad Whisky, just doesn’t achieve total balance. Feels somewhat constructed.
Tomatin 14, Port Cask, 46% vol., 2017
S: 6 G: 5 P: 2 / Color: amber / Score: 79
Sweet and dense nose. Vanilla, chewy caramel and a hand full of raisins. Broken branches again, the chalk and the violets are a little more in the background. Seem to be signature notes here? Quite sharp when nosing. Sawdust, sap and brine are also to be noted. A rounder and richer mouthfeel (higher strength my good friend) with sweet juicy forest berries. The oak is well integrated, not very complex but balance is achieved. Nice lingering oak in the longer finish. The nose is just as odd as the 12 but the taste is significantly more enjoyable.
Tomatin CS, Bourbon& Sherry, 57.5 % vol., 2017
S: 6 G:4 P: 2 / Color: gold / Score: 82
Honey sweetness, vanilla and caramelised nuts open the experience. A lot more substantial. The obligatory violets, green branches and chalk are all here. The CS version has the least amount of bite, how does that work? I can taste sweet vanilla toffee with a rich, oily texture. Here come the fruits: Peaches, apricot (Jam), oranges all nice and ripe. Some malt sugar and bread dough in the background. The finish is long and sweet with just the slightest bit of oak clinging to your cheeks. Really a nice, pleasant surprise and kind of what I would expect the 12 year old to taste like.
Cu Bocan NAS, 46% vol., 2017
S: 5 G:5 P:4 / Color: gold / Score 83
Opens sweet and smoky with vanilla and caramel. Pears, lemons and some brine follow. Balsamic vinegar, hay, liquorice and smoked ham. Interesting combination. Of course we couldn’t do without the branches. The smoke is never overpowering, just a wisp of highland smoke in the background. Tastes of sweet peat, very smooth (could that be a good thing?). Pears again balanced with some oak. Simple but well put together. Finishes long, sweet and warming. It is almost as if this distillate likes to be peated. I seems so much more fused. Makes me wonder if not all Tomatin would have been dried over peat smoke, traditionally. I am glad we had the Cu Bocan for reference. It’s really remarkable how many similarities these Whiskies show. A defined house style at least. Noteworthy is also that the higher the strength the better they seem to keep their composure. The branding might be done well but the Range needs some work!