As I said earlier in the week, the Tomatin Distillery Taste of Tomatin Tour culminates in a vertical tasting of six expressions, comprising:
- 12 year old
- Cask Strength
- 14 Year Old Port Wood Finish
- 18 Year Old
- Cù Bòcan (Tomatin’s peated whisky)
Unfortunately, I was the driver for our visit. However, many distilleries are finally coming round to the fact that their remote locations means driving is often the only option, and are now providing small bottles for visitors to take their drams home in. And here’s my three favourites.
14 Year Old Port Wood Finish – 46% ABV
Not only is the 14 Year Old one of my favourite drams from the tour – it’s one of my favourite drams of all time. Thr expression benefits from time spent in Tawny Port casks, which held port for around 50 years. This gives it a very rich nose, a lot of red fruits, vanilla and sweet honey. A very rich palate complements the nose, with a big whack of dark chocolate, raisins, sultanas, dates, cinnamon. The sweetness on the finish reminded me of the syrup from an old school fruit salad. Superb!
18 Year Old Sherry Cask – 46% ABV
From a port finish, we now have a sherry finish. Relaunched in 2016, the 18 year old is finished in first-fill oloroso-sherry butts. The sweetness on the nose reminds me of candied walnuts – sticky sweet, but also with a nutty edge. There’s a touch of vanilla fudge, apple and lemon. The sweetness on the palate is slightly subtler – more barley sugar than dripping with honey. There’s more dark chocolate here too, along with nutmeg and lemon rind.
Cù Bòcan – 46% ABV
Named after the legend of a spectral dog, Cù Bòcan is Tomatin’s peated expression. For one week a year, the distillery makes peated whisky instead of its traditionally unpeated expressions, and then matures it in a combination of Virgin Oak, Bourbon and Sherry casks. Lots of coconut and cream on the nose, with some very earthy notes and a squeeze of lime. The smoke is there but it’s very subtle. The smoke on the palate is very subtle, allowing Tomatin’s sweetness to come through. There’s loads of spice too, with a chilli sweetness to finish.
Finally, I also needed to praise Tomatin for the recent re-design of its packaging. It’s easy enough to dismiss the bottle and box, claiming it’s the contents of the bottle that counts. But I firmly believe that the bottle and branding are all part of the whisky drinking process, and Tomatin’s new look really is a cut above the rest.
You can find out more about Tomatin Distillery over on its website – www.tomatin.com