No preamble about my life, no rambling about genitalia or frustrations, nothing as this one is going to be a barn burner; The often mentioned (by me) Tomatin Unde-Review that I’ve been saving up to do for way, way too long.
Tomatin is a Highland distillery located in, surprisingly, the village of Tomatin. They’ve been distilling since the 16th century, however they became an official distillery only near the end of the 19th, and since then have been mothballed, sold off, built up to handle massive amounts of booze, and then taken apart. Now 80% of their malts are in blends, and they are owned by a Japanese company. Mad world we live in.
If this distillery were a human, they’d be your tough grandparents. They’ve seen some shit, and still smile and act nicely and give you candy. Yet at the drop of a hat, they could gut your friends and leave them to dry before you could blink. Also they were the first to be owned by the Japanese, but we don’t like to talk about that.
I’m also going to note that there’s sometimes a week or more difference between each tasting/review here, so keep that in mind while reading each. It may seem a little manic otherwise.
Bought as part of a three part set
Price: $56.70 (CAD)
Nose: Honey, cranberry, wheat, lemon tart, butter, lime
There’s a tart flavour to this one. Like my wife! Ha, I kid… seriously though, she’s lovely and patient with me.
Anyway, it’s an odd mixture of the tart sherry from the finish, the wheat from the spirit, and the butter/honey from the oak. Takes some time to get into.
Taste: Peanut, cinnamon, cherry, lime rind, nutmeg, ginger beer
There’s some spicy red nuts throughout this…. Like my wife! Ha, I kid, seriously though, she’s amazing and we have great relations, I’m just not a BJ kinda guy, so she doesn’t.
The peanut flavour is very present. Also as it opens up, it’s exactly like a proper, strong ginger beer, which is very odd. I don’t know how much I liked it, but it was unique and had some nice flavours.
Finish: Lemon loaf, yeast, wheat, grains, ginger, bread, almond
The end of this one is too grainy and yeasty.
If you think I’m continuing on the joke above, you must think my chesterfield is really comfortable.
Seriously though, the end of this has some of that spice from the Spanish Sherry, but just… doesn’t have enough? It’s really nutty and yeasty, not really my thing.
Conclusion: It smells like a short sherry finished whisky, it has a nice taste, and the finish is like a spiced beer. A little too much yeast/grain in the finish, however it’s a nice dram otherwise.
1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #120
Aged in American oak
Price: N/A in Ontario
Colour: Dirty Blonde
Nose: Light red licorice, sour fake cherry, ancho, casia buds, plums
Sweet delicate taste
Some spice, some heat, mostly
Candy flavours here
Taste: Cherry, almond, currant, nutmeg, bubblegum, salt, caramel, pepper
Not tart, just sweet, good mouth feel
Turns to sweet, salty
Finish: Nutmeg, strawberry, cloves, ham, ginger, heather honey
Less fruit at the end
Hints of Easter dinner throughout
Conclusion: Okay, enough horsing around with Haikus. This is like a small step up from a Lowland malt, and it’s really sweet. Some people may be turned off by that, however I enjoyed this quite a bit. It tastes like a single lotus leaf in a bowl, floating far…. wait, what the fuck does that even mean? It’s delicate, it’s sweet, I could see myself enjoying it any time, and the Finish was my favourite part.
Cue crying about sulfur…. now!
Price: $128.95 (CAD)
Colour: Roasted garlic
Nose: Strawberry, anise, basil, currant, nutmeg, lemon, candied orange, cake frosting
Very sweet nose, with just a hint of acid, spice, and vegetal notes. You can tell that the sherry is very prominent in this one.
Maybe it’s the extra 46%? Maybe it’s born with it…
Taste: Anise, lemon, pepper, nutmeg, raspberry juice, mint, ginger
That’s a spicy meeta-ball! Seriously, lots of spice hitting you, and just a hint of acidic red fruits.
Finish: Buttered mushrooms, red licorice, strawberry jam, heat, allspice, raisin, caramel
Look to your dram, now back at my dram, the spice is paired with earth mixed with more red fruits and a deep sherry influence on the dram. Very short finish, unfortunately.
Conclusion: I feel like I’ve fallen and can’t get up. This isn’t a dram you’ll be wondering where the beef is… it’s a tasty dram. Slightly better than the 15, the price difference hurts it, yet this has a lot of interesting spice to it that makes it a dram to look out for.
1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #121
Tomatin 18 year old 1994 Authentic Collection (WM Cadenhead) was reviewed directly (after cleaning my mouth of any residual flavour) after the above Tomatin 18. This one is independently bottled by the arcane masters of malt at Cadenheads, at cask strength, and probably with some eye of newt and toil and trouble thrown in.
Price: N/A in Ontario
Bottled: February 2013
Cask Type: Bourbon Hogshead
No. of Bottles: 214
Colour: White wine
Nose: Pine, nutmeg, anise, plum, mango, vanilla, smoke
At first this is exactly like a Canuck, yet it start transmogrifying as time goes on, conjuring forth fruit, spice, and even a little smoke and vanilla. Unfortunately it has a reduced, light, hard to smell nose on it.
10 points from Gryffindor!
Taste: Earth, anise, toffee, orange, nutmeg, cocoa, cinnamon, red grapes
Abjured from the sherry cask finish, this has more of a heavy spiced cocoa flavour. Like spiced hot chocolate, with a little Brave orange peel to bear me through it.
Finish: Sour lemon, turnip, butter, potato, mint, smoke, caramel, thyme
Earthy, but not in a bad way. Like stoneskin, this wears of after multiple hits of the dram. Last forever. Or at least that’s what the gremlins want you to think.
Conclusion: Like eating an entire pack of Bertie Bott’s every flavour beans, this has a huge amount of complexity and range. Long finish, great taste, and… well, the nose let’s you down, and thus, I have to take points away for it. It’s too bad, as it’s really a better dram than the original otherwise.
Tomatin 20 year old 1993 Old Particular (Douglas Laing) is up next. I bought this dram from Masters of Malt. I can’t say for certain, as finding any information on this bottle has been a pain in my ass, but I would hazard to say it was aged in Bourbon Hogsheads. There is no colouring and, like all of the Old Particular line, they are non chill filtered. Since this is older than 19 years, it ends up at the higher Abv content.
The below format is stolen from /u/LetThereBeR0ck , who said it was okay for me to steal it.
And it’s all from the same cask.
Price: Not available in Ontario.
Cask # 9984
Distilled: January 1993
Bottled: August 2013
Colour: Clear with a yellow tint
Finish: Like a BBQ Bakery
Tomatin 21 Year Old is a limited edition OB made up of whiskies that are between 21 and 24 years old, use both North American and Euopean oak casks, of which 6 are ex-bourbon and 1 is a refill sherry butt.
Hehehehe… I said Butt.
Price: N/A in Ontario
Distilled: Various ages, the youngest of which was 21. Thus they had to calm it down, stop it from partying, and let it meet up with some other 20 somethings to help blend it into a good person.
Bottled: December 1, 2009
Nose: Grapefruit, red grapes, currant, sea air, tobacco, light smoke, violets, clover honey
If I didn’t know any better (and I don’t), I’d say this was a sherried Islay. The fruit subsides after a bit, leaving a lot of tobacco smell to it, like kissing my wife after she’s had a cigar.
Taste: Tobacco, smoke, dark cherry, mushrooms in butter, pastrami, pepper, paprika
Again, a ton of tobacco. Like, most of Montreal is in each drink, that’s how much Tobacco.
(EDITOR’S NOTE): Montrealer’s smoke like it’s the cure for cancer.
Finish: Cuban Cigar, mint, hairspray, sour candies, faint dark fruits
Finishes in an earthy, Cuban Cigar (Suck it Americans, I live in Canada, I can buy Cubans!) taste that is very present.. You know, like being present when you fart in an elevator, that kinda present.
Conclusion: Confession time, I… don’t like Cigars. Just not my thing. I’d rather drink, or have sweets, or have sex. Just can’t get into smoking tobacco as a vice, sorry. Or hash, for that matter, as it’s too harsh.
This is a fruity, salty, earthy, and smokey dram. It’s tasty, and if you love Cigars, buy it. I don’t, so I had my wife help me with this (and every single) review, to ensure that I knew what I was talking about.
83/100 (A Shit ton higher if you like Tobacco)
Tomatin 21 Year Old 1990 – Old Malt Cask (Douglas Laing). Just saying that makes me get Nostalgic. First IB I had was a Douglas Laing. It was part of my first flight, and I’m still excited about them.
My first word was Duck. And the First album I knew I loved was Americana. Let’s get some Nostalgia going.
Price: N/A In Ontario (Which was the first Province I lived in)
Distilled: May 1990 (While I was listening to Nevermind)
Bottled: December 2011 (While I was listening to El Camino)
Casks: Refill hogshead (The first unit of measurement that tipped me off that adults may not have their shit together)
Abv: 50% (First deal I ever received on eye glasses)
Colour: Apple juice (The First drink I knew as a kid that I didn’t like)
Nose: Floral, peaches, vanilla, fresh linen, alcohol
Reminds me of different smells of laundry detergent… well, except the alcohol one. That’d be pretty cool.
Very subtle nose. Took awhile to really break into it.
Taste: Vanilla custard, pepper, plum, salted cashews, cantaloupe, walnut oil, sugar cane, mango
Reminds me of the first time I bought Asian desserts. They’re sweet, however not as rich or strong as Canadian desserts.
Lots of different notes here, pairing well with one another.
Finish: Sourdough, cabbage, lemon juice, mineral water, dry
Reminds me of being a kid; there’s a feeling of taking a header into the dirt, drinking my Dad’s Perrier and not liking it, trying out coleslaw and deciding it wasn’t for me…
Very sour earth flavours in here. Really dry. Not really a fan, as it doesn’t differ enough to warrant the amount of dryness.
Conclusion: Who says that all IBs are amazing? Honestly, this has a great taste, reminds me of some things, but all in all isn’t anything too special. The taste is good, the finish is lack luster, and the nose is interesting. I’d say pass.
Up next we have Tomatin 30, recently stated as a gem of the Scotch community. However there are two different ones, one at 49%, which is in Sherry casks, and another that is aged in American and European casks.
I had the less fan fare one.
If I were to list the following things, you may guess how I feel about it: Champagne, Lobster, Anal Sex, and Picnics.
Price: N/A in Ontario
Colour: Honey, cardamon, orange, cranberry, grain, vanilla bean, medicinal
Lighter nose, there’s a decent amount of sweetness, with some acid coming off of it.
See, the big thing is, Champagne all depends on the people making it and the type, and what you like. Half of it is just dry, and the other half really sweet, and that turns off tons of people. Not to mention, open a bottle, and you have to finish it.
Taste: Strawberry, cough medicine, light maple syrup, oak, lime, nutmeg
Very big hit of strawberries and cough medicine, and then.. meh. I mean, it’s nice, but nothing over the top. There isn’t enough to really complain or go on about.
Lobster is funny. It basically has the taste of butter. Most people just dip it in butter, or smother it in cheese or some sauce. Sure, it has a nice texture, but so would most other crustacean’s. And it’s messy.
Finish: Cranberry, wood, lemon rind, cherry, cloves, cotton, cedar, almond
There’s a longer finish, mostly woody. The sherry influence picks up, though nothing too over the top.
Anal sex takes a ton of time to both prepare and get used to. Sure, some men, women, and other genders prefer it, however at the end of the day, it’s not THAT amazing for all the work you have to put in.
Conclusion: Fuck picnics, it’s eating cold things outside, and is only good if it’s nice out.
As you can tell, this is the lower end version of the Tomatin 30 year. It’s overhyped only because the other version had such good marks. The above list is Hitchen’s Overrated things, and I think I’d add this one to it.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a nice dram, just not worth the money, and other Tomatin’s are a lot better.
1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #121
Tomatin Cù Bòcan. The name strikes fear into your heart, yet still, through the moors, you trudge forward.
A shrill cry rings out, and as you turn around, your ammo carrier has become shorter, his red blood seeping into your back, hot and sticky against the cold air.
As you raise your blunderbuss high, you stare into the darkness. Two blue eyes pop out, slowly burrowing into your heart.
A quick dart is all you see, firing wildly, splintering a tree.
As you fall back into the muck, the beast rises high over you, it’s smoky hot breath upon your brow.
Price: N/A in Ontario
A deep orange blur is all you can see.
Nose: Sour cantaloupe, peat, brine, melon, flint, sheep shit, rotten potato
The smell of compost is the first thing that hits you, with sea air, the flint from your blunderbuss, and still, most compost. You turn away from the off smell.
Taste: Apple, peat, coriander, burn, Asian pear, metallic, rose water
As the beast bites into you, you taste smoked fruit, and the metallic burn leaves you hurt. You can smell your funeral flowers as you slowly leave.
Finish: Cumin, too much pepper, bad skunky beer, plum, smoke, old raspberries
The pyre is already burning, as poor folk salvage what little bad beer and spoiled fruit that they can to send you off. The beast paces at the swamp’s edge, waiting for another victim.
Conclusion: It just didn’t work out for this one. Tomatin can be done well with Peat (see above). This has some peat, nothing to go along, and it’s rough. A little more time, and maybe the hunters would return to it.
Swapped with /u/jimvarney01, who is awesome, as finding this was easier than finding the New World.
Tomatin Decades is a special single malt that came out to celebrate Douglas Campbell’s 50 years at the distillery.
The casks used were:
- 1967 – Refill Sherry Hogshead
- 1976 – Oloroso Sherry Butts
- 1984 – Refill Sherry Hogsdeads
- 1990 – First Fill Bourbon Barrels
- 2005 – Fill Bourbon Barrels
So just think for a second what all that means: This is made up of whisky that has been aging before my parents started university. That’s insane to me.
Or to put it a different way:
- 1967: The Doors debut album is released
- 1976. Apple Computers is formed
- 1984. Vanessa Williams resigns as Miss America after nude photos show up in Penthouse
- 1990. Nelson Mandela is released from Prison
- 2005. Hurricane Katrina hits the US.
That’s insane to me, and after all I’ve heard, I’m very excited to try this. Hopefully it isn’t all hype. I mean, it survived nude photos of Vanessa Williams and all of the Doors’ albums, hate to see it all for naught.
Colour: Bright yellow
Nose: Grape, honey, little wood, clove, yoghurt, peach, strawberries
Very different notes going on here. Lots of fruit, which probably comes from each of the older sherry, yet there’s also the Bourbon influences with some wood and vanilla flavours.
Taste: Earth, canned pears, oak, anise, orange rind, cranberry, caramel, pepper, olive oil
Wow. There’s… this is really, really complex. I mean, yes, some of the above flavours are quite similar, but… just wow. It has a great acidic, earthy, and sweet mixture that just keeps outdoing itself with every sip.
Wish I had a bottle of this.
Finish: Cumin, lemon, orange, zucchini, oak, vanilla, hot, nutmeg, dry cider, yeast pancakes, basil, raspberry
If you think the taste was complex, the finish just knocks you out of the water. And why were you in water? I don’t know, I’m just words conveyed from some guys thoughts, you figure it out.
There’s a new yeasty flavour that somehow fits into this crazy mixture.
Conclusion: This is up there for the best Tomatins. It is complex, interesting, unique, and crazy. I almost wish it was cask strength, but at the same time, this is a work of art, and a must try for anyone. I’d dare call it a piece of history in the whisky community, as it’s just that good.
I think if the nose was just a little more complex, or if it was peated, I’d rate it much, much higher, but that’s just me.
1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #122
Tomatin Legacy is the normal Tomatin Malt, made in the traditional Tomatin style, however they aged it part of the way with Virgin Oak Casks. This was the third bottle as part of the Tomatin pack I bought in Scotland.
And as well all know, adding a virgin to anything can sure screw things up.
Price: N/A in Ontario
Colour: Bone yellow
Nose: Grapefruit, oak, cotton, cinnamon, tulips, heat, pickle
Wow… I mean, I came into this pretty sarcastically, but I’m honestly impressed. There’s a fair bit of fruit and acidity, some spice, a little of that Bourbon pickle flavour… maybe this will be interesting.
Taste: Cherry, clove, vanilla, oil
Nope, just… boring. Almost flavourless. Took me a couple sips to actually get anything. Water does nothing. Turn back, for you have made a mistake. Reminds me of a cheap Sainsbury’s blend. Or if someone made Calorie Free Gatorade in a Whisky flavour.
Finish: Cotton, dill, lemon, pepper, heat, macadamia nuts
Again, not much going on. Mostly it’s just the dill coming out and some burn. Like a bad salmon entree or something.
Conclusion: What I’m trying to convey is: This is shite. Skip this one. It only saves itself from lower marks (low 50s) by having a nice nose. Kinda like dating a boring person who has nice eyes.
Overall Conclusion: So I’ve now had so many Tomatins I should be able to state my thoughts on the distillery. I’d say that each dram is unique, and you have to know what you want. I personally like what they do with Sherry Casks. I think that the Decades and the 20 OMC are the best of the bunch.
Also I think this is the best Distillery from the Highlands, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better dram out there.
Thanks for reading, and thanks again for everyone who helped by either swapping or just by giving me ideas for what to write.
Scotch reviews #155-165, Highland reviews #23-33, Whisky Network review #202-212