Tomatin 12

Tomatin 12
The Tomatin 12 is another of the entry-level malts I’m reviewing this month. Unlike the Balvenie Double Wood it’s not really an iconic malt and it’s also one that I’ve gone through a number of bottles of in recent years—so there’s no real surprise for me in what’s contained in the review. This whisky continues to be one of the great values in single malt Scotch—coming in below $30 in most markets. Tomatin in general continues to be a good value in the US with the 18 year old a category killer in the $60 neighbourhood and the 25 year old challenging Glenfarclas in the most affordable 25 yo category (and even their 30 year old is cheaper than most distilleries’ 25 year olds). Here’s hoping they don’t also fall prey to the siren call of “premiumization” or start trading in good age-stated whisky for dubious NAS bottles.

This 12 yo comprises bourbon cask matured spirit that is then finished for six to nine months in oloroso sherry casks.

Tomatin 12 (43%; from a bottle split with friends)

Nose: Lemon zest, honey and then more acid. A malty note below that and hints of fruit (apple juice). Water unlocks more of the fruit and now there’s some muskier stuff too: tinned peach and pineapple.

Palate: Very much as on the nose but with more malt and some toasted wood. On the second sip there’s more oak still but also those teasing hints of fruit (apple, apricot, some peach). The texture is a bit thin, but then the bottle I got a portion of had been open for a while. The oak and the fruit meld nicely as it sits and the whole becomes a bit more intense. Okay, let’s see what water does. With water the wood recedes but everything but the acid gets a little washed out.

Finish: Medium. The toasted wood is what mostly remains. More peppery with water and more of the fruit hangs around as well.

Comments: A simple, easy-drinking malt with no real flaws. It doesn’t bring a lot to the table but it doesn’t take anything off it either. One to drink while reading or watching tv or whatever. Everyone should have a whisky of this profile in their cabinet and there should be no embarrassment at all if that whisky is the Tomatin 12. Still, it would be even better if they’d bumped this one up to 46% as they did with the 18 yo when they retooled the range a couple of years ago.

Rating: 81 points.

2 thoughts on “Tomatin 12

  1. I second your opinion on Tomatin being a distillery to keep watching. They like some sherry in their whiskies, which fits your taste (and weather) more than it does mine. On the other hand, the ex-bourbon Edina Liquors Tomatin 9yo (or was it 10yo) that I had from your bottle was a bit of a let-down. Yet on the third hand, Tomatin Legacy was one of the best whiskies I had this year.

    My notes on the 12yo resonate with yours:
    Soft malt in good-quality sherry casks. The sherry does most of the talking. It’s a balanced whisky, the sweetness is not aggressive and it’s not too winey. However, the malt is in the background and doesn’t have much to say. All roundness, nothing sticks out. Easy drinking but not much depth either. No peat to speak of – similar in style to Glengoyne. 3*

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  2. Likely, rather boring but inoffensive juice from ex-Bourbon barrels is niced up in pseudo-sherry (Oloroso treated) cask to mass produce one of the best valued single malts on the market (it can dip down to $16 around here). From an anorak’s point of view, the ‘finished’ product appears quite disjointed – the sherry layer lies on top of the spirit rather than being integrated with it – and it fades rather quickly from memory once it has been swallowed (I don’t think a version of 46% would fare much better). However, these limitations are of little concern for most social gatherings. This crowd pleaser is for drinking, not discussion or contemplation.

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