Friday, 30 August 2013

Tomatin Vertical

I recently attended a tasting with the Birmingham Whisky Club.  I happened to be in Birmingham for work and this coincided.  I ended up having a fantastic evening, met some great people and discovered my favourite distillery, Tomatin.  And I also had to extend my scoring system!

Tomatin are a Highland distillery with an interesting history including being the largest in Scotland for a time, and were bought by a Japanese corporation in the 80s.  Most of the distillate is used for blends including some of their own, but the single malt is beautifully balanced and fruited.  All the whiskies start in Makers Mark and Buffalo Trace bourbon casks. 

Antiquary 12 year old – blended whisky 40% - A⊖


A fantastic blended whisky with a lovely nose.  50% grain and 50% malt (of which 30% is Tomatin).  I bought a bottle of the Legacy over this and think that was the right thing to do, but wouldn’t mind coming back to the Antiquary and seeing what the 21 year old is like.

Nose – Sweet, camphor, honey, marmalade.  Very lovely nose.

Body – Clean, soft, smooth.  Extremely well balanced, clean and easy to drink.  Sweet ending, no unbalanced or off notes.

Finish – No finish.

Tomatin Legacy – 43% - A+


Stunning value from this no age statement single malt, this is a combination of traditional bourbon with virgin oak casks containing whisky between 4 and 12 years old.  Great nose, interesting body, very nicely made.  Highly recommended.

Nose – Sweet, honey and sauternes.  Floral oak, plastic cement.

Body – Bookcase, well balanced malt and cereals, buttery. Very moreish and easy drinking. 

Finish – Toasty, oak, woodchips and rabbit food.  Great structure from the virgin oak and a long finish for a NAS whisky.

Tomatin 12 year old
– 40% – A-


The 12yo is matured in bourbon casks and sherry butts before being married in sherry butts.  I thought it was very pleasant but a bit outshone by the other ends of the spectrum.

Nose – Malted but sweet, tropical fruit, blueberries, faint leather.

Body – Sweet, well rounded, some significant malt, sweet oak blending into the malt.  Very good.

Finish – Long, smooth finish.  Paper and rounded out with oats.

Tomatin 15 year old – 43% – A


Matured in refill bourbon casks and starting to show real class, very interesting.

Nose – Fresh marker pens, tropical notes of bananas, orange and pineapple.  Absolutely beautiful.

Body – Malt, oak, a bit harsher than the 12 year old.  Tropical element comes through.  Delicious and interesting.

Finish – Smooth, long finish.  Uneventful but well made, great structure.  Very nice.

Tomatin 18 year old – 46% - A+


Married in Oloroso casks prior to bottling, this is the first non-chill filtered single malt in the range.  A fantastic whisky.

Nose – Sweet, unbalanced sherry nose.  Salted, toffee, floral, interesting and delicious.

Body – Malt, toffee, beautifully balanced, very complicated.  Amazing.

Finish – Long, creamed, long oak and malt coming back at the end.  Very rich with oak at the end and an incredible finish, about 2 minutes. 

Tomatin 30 year old – 45% – A⊕+

When I was tasting this for the first time, I was just shaking my head in disbelief, hence the extra plus on the perfect A⊕ score. What an incredible whisky, what an incredible nose!  I could drink this all day long.  The 30 year old has also just come first at the Edinburgh whisky fringe two years running.


Nose – Pineapple, vanilla, fruit cake, raisins, cloves and oranges.  Unbelievable.  Great sherried nose (80% bourbon, 20% sherry, non-chill-filtered).

Body – Mango, extreme balance and poise.  Apple, briefly wood, perfect.  Mango burps!

Finish – Very very long and changing, oak, mango, apple, pear, banana.  Great sherry finish, a real rollercoaster on the fruit.  Wow.



A fantastic lineup and I will be adding more reviews from Tomatin – I have the “Decades” expression lined up and another new offering on the way soon.  The tasting was a good one, Alistair from Tomatin was a great speaker and the crowd were fun, and the whisky was all fantastic, nothing straying below an A. 

I ended up buying a bottle of the Legacy and had to buy a bottle of the 30 year old despite the cost.  Its worth it.

Tomatin are going places at the moment and have grown 150% in the UK market in the last three years so I am expecting interesting additions to the core lineup and there’s a good set of independent bottlings and specials to explore.  Highly recommended.

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