Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Tomatin–Core range overhaul

An embarrassment of new Tomatins, my cup runneth over, but it’s bittersweet because they knock out the 15 and the 30 (gasp!) from the core range.  You should have stocked up.  Thanks to Tomatin for all these samples, and thanks to Tom for allowing me to tax his single cask 2000 port at the end!

Tomatin Cu Bocan , 1989 Limited Edition A⊕

This is an old parcel of distillate, accidentally made (so the story goes) around the time Yazz was troubling the charts, with peated malt.

cubocan1989Nose - Lightly sweet, an initial, deep fruity wax, some pink grapefruit and a suggestion of chocolate.  The peat is sensitive, a little meaty, some herby fried sausage, with a long lasting belt of unlit cigar.  Light but intriguing.  Adding water sets the fruit loose a bit more giving fruit pastilles and better integration to the cigar notes.  Still lovely and a little less masculine.

Body - Unexpectedly intense - totally unexpected toffee malt and sweet peat developing into some serious spice and some quite intense peat retronasally.  Quite different; oddly young around the edges but with old Tomatin fruit, wax and complexity running down the centre.  

Finish - Long, wood spice, more intensity and lots more cigar.  Not sure about the integration?  It’s either challenging or badly integrated neat - I can’t decide which.  Ends with more sausagey notes but it’s rather beguiling.  Water, as expected, ties the loose ends together a bit and smoothes out the integration - the added fruit balances out the challenge to leave you with a more rounded experience, but exposes a little bitterness right at the end.

What's not good about it: The finish doesn’t quite hang together, which I would expect at this price point.  Altogether a little light for my personal tastes too.

What’s good about it:  However the nose and body do stand up to this cost, with lots of well balanced fruit, intriguing peat and tobacco complexity.  Extremely interesting.

Tomatin 14 year old, port wood finish, 46% A+

This Tomatin 14 year old is ACEd in port pipes, and replaces the 15 year old in the official line-up.

tomob.14yoNose - Ripe red cherries, a little pear, a toasty cereal top note and a little caramac.  Clear and clean with savoury port backing.  Rather well done, but the port does rather cancel out some of the things I really love about Tomatin - the sweetness and fruit.

Body - Smooth, toasty, ripe and sweet.  Peach and pear, ham and red chilli.  

Finish - Medium, balanced, good wood sourness against the Tomatin fruit and port.  It does hang together very well and at this price I’m rather impressed.

What's not good about it: The port somehow subtracts against the intrinsic virtues of the liquid here.  There’s a loss of luxury.

What’s good about it:  But it is, consequently, very balanced and well integrated.  I could drink this all night.  A real session whisky.

Tomatin 1988, port wood finish, 46% A⊕

So this is a 25 year old whisky, ACEd in port pipes, in a posh box filling the shoes of the 30 year old, one of my favourite whiskies of all time.  Tough crowd...

tomatin_1988_port_530Nose - Ripe, bright wax, raspberry (that’s a first), ripe red cherry, bubble-gum and pine.  Lovely fruit bomb notes (which is what I’ve signed up for) but light and balanced.  It’s good.

Body - Light bubble-gum, some tropical notes (banana, guava, mango) and stabilising wood spice.  The port comes along later, balancing the sweetness and with some peated notes and good maturity.  This is a very well put together whisky.

Finish - Medium.  Balanced, darkly spiced and with orange zest and black cherry skins.

What's not good about it: A little clumsy at this price, not so exciting as the outgoing 30.  Mind you my expectations are set at its predecessor, not at the market.  

What’s good about it:  Beautiful fruit bomb nose, real structure, good balance throughout.  An accomplished whisky.  I’m still going to buy it.

Compared to the old 30.  On the nose the 30 is obviously classier and more expensive - loads of tropical intensity and wax, just what I love.  But the new 1988 is more structured, Scotchy and a bit more “hard to get” - its a bit more of a classic presentation.  On the palate, the 1988 is smokier and tastier (more savoury, more umami), but the 30 is more fiery but fruity, and just sexier.  The 30 is a bit more “obvious” and candied while the 1986 has a bit more restraint.  They’re both good, but the 30 is better.

Compare to the new 14.  They have the same smoky backing, but the 1988 has significantly more tropical interest, and that lacquered feeling of a bit more age.  On the palate, the 14 is spicier but balanced and very drinkable, with significant port influence.  The 1988 has more smoke (where is this coming from?) and a more balanced red wine aspect, but very lovely.  

Comparing the new 14 and the old 30.  On the nose, the 30 smells of pure bubble-gum, just like the (outrageous) Cadenheads 35 smells.  The common DNA is in the tropical notes - the Tomatin is there.  On the palate, the 14 is still lovely and smooth and well structured; the 30 is absolutely amazing - structured, spicy, fruity, balanced, tropical, waxed - you name it.  What a whisky.

Tomatin 2000 Port Finish - Cask 36406, 58.3% A+

This was sent to Tom as a prize by the distillery.  His review went into the distillery newsletter and bless him, he sent me a drop of what he had, as he knows I’m a total fanboy.

Nose - Light, zesty red cherry, deeply sweet with trademark tropical notes, wax, and toasty cereal.  A backing of parliament bookcases.  Perfumed and candied.  Rather lovely.

Body - Wow - intense citrus notes in the immediate delivery, some wood sourness and quite fizzing.  Loads of red fruit behind that with toffeed, oily overtones and quite structured but a little angular.  The port influence comes through at the back, with winey aftertouches and savoury juiciness.

Finish - Quite long, oily, fruity with a bitter backing.  

What's not good about it:  Some bitterness and sharp edges throughout.

What’s good about it:  Beautiful, structured sweetness on the nose.  Loving the promise of tropical fruit against the savoury structure of the wood and port.

Compared to the new 14, the 14 is waxier and more smoothly sweet on the nose, with more intensity in the 2000.  On the palate, the new 14 has the same fizzing citrus notes but is better balanced and well, it’s been blended to be so.  It’s fascinating to try some of the raw casks behind the new commercial expression.  Thanks Tom, thanks Tomatin!

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