Water of Life – Tomatin
Located in the Scottish Highlands, Tomatin is a distillery with a longstanding history that under new ownership started to elevate its endeavours to new heights from the 1990s onward, which established them as one of the more distinguished distillers from the region on the firmament of whisky lovers.
My first exposure to Tomatin was their entry level Legacy expression, which was launched in 2013 as the distillery’s entry-level non-age statement whisky. Matured in ex-Bourbon barrels and then finished for around a year in virgin oak casks.
What tickles the nostrils in deliciously vanillin in nature, framed by zesty citrus notes that are highlighted by tropical fruits and caramel notes, counterpointed by a florally herbal backdrop that has just the faintest hint of beautiful smoke.
The vanilla fully unveils its powers on the top of the mouth, serenaded by cider flavours and just a hint of spice and pepper, the latter of which is more prominent in the medium finish that also incorporates some astringent components.
With an ABV of 43% and reasonably priced, this is a solid entry-level whisky that opens up with a few drops of water and exposure to air.
Taking things up a notch is the 12-Year-Old expression, which on the nose already presents itself as more complex with a bouquet of oaky maltiness, honeyed vanilla, raisins and layers of grass and herbal aromas.
On the palate, oaky, peppery spice nuances take turns with vanilla, cidery apples, mint and sweet smoke, resting on a foundation of buttery sweetness with characteristics derived from the maturation in Oloroso Sherry casks.
The finish is just beautiful with marmalade, barley and currant flavours weaving themselves in with vanilla.
Tomatin Sherry Cask is quite something as it is well-calibrated and balances the fine line between having the characteristics of the cask without sacrificing subtle notes of barley, honeyed apricots and sherries, backed by dark chocolate and delightful leather notes. Stating that it is “well-calibrated” would be an understatement par excellence as this expression hits a palatable sweet spot, starting with subdued flavours before the volume is turned up but never beyond the point of making sense of individual nuances contributing to the whole.
The aromas are sweet, with the expected Sherry notes taking turns with lemongrass and dried fruits meeting raisiny dark chocolate, framed by oak, honey and caramel.
What materialized on the palate makes me smack my lips as a beautiful melange of fruits, oak, ginger and clover meet nutty flavours and a dominating streak of honey that then culminates in chocolatey territory.
So far, so good.
Enter Tomatin Cask Strength. Matured in a combination of ex-Bourbon barrels and Oloroso sherry casks, clocking in at an ABV of 57.7%, this baby knocks things out of the park.
The Tomatin typical vanilla notes tickle the nostrils along with a well-calibrated melange of apples, pears, bananas and peachy notes, sitting on a robust foundation of malt and barley, punctuated by earthy and grassy notes that eave in sugary undertones and cinnamon.
If you think that the aromas are a handful, wait until you taste the drop as this is where the Cask Strength really sings. Starting off with sweet berry notes along with orange and citrussy highlights, it meanders via peppery spicy territory via ginger and salty bits to arrive at chocolatey cinnamon and nutmeg around an okay core.
The finish is elongated and combines the highlights of the aforementioned flavours in a nuanced crescendo, with sophisticated notes of vanilla reverberating long after.
photo from company website