I last reviewed the Tomatin 12 about two years ago. It’s a malt that I’ve always enjoyed as a casual sipper and it was historically always a very good value (as is the Tomatin 18). The Tomatin packaging has received a makeover since then: with all new bottles and labels and a generally more premium look (I suppose: I always liked the clean labels of the previous design). It didn’t see a bump in the abv, however. Anyway, I’d been curious to see if there had been any significant change to the whisky inside the bottle as well and picked up a bottle late last year. I’ve since taken it to two of my local whisky group’s tastings (always blind) and it did well at both—this was particularly pleasing to a few of our members who are forever complaining that I make them taste whiskies that they like but can never actually find. You won’t have any trouble finding this one, no matter where you live. But what is it like? Here are my notes.
Tomatin 12, 2016 Release (43%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Lime zest, bitter orange, green apple and some freshly cut grass. The fruit gets muskier and more intense as it sits. A few drops of water bring out even more fruit, and it’s got a mild tropical aspect now.
Palate: Less acidic on the palate—and the fruit is more restrained all around—but there’s apple and lemon zest here too and a bit of oaky bitterness. The texture is a bit too thin. Let’s see what water does. It improves the texture and merges the fruit and the bitter notes nicely.
Finish: Medium. The oaky bitterness is the top note here but it’s not overloud, tannic or off-putting. The oak gets more peppery and there’s some clove too now.
Comments: A very pleasant, fruity, summery malt, which has definitely improved as the bottle has stayed open. The nose punches above its weight and the palate comes on strong too with water. Not as malty as I remember the older version being but I like this a bit better. (Well, I still have a sample of that bottle left…) In the low $30s this would be very easy to recommend as a good value. In the $40 region that’s a harder call. I liked it a lot better with water.
Rating: 83 points.
I used to buy the heck out of this when I first getting my bearings in the whisky world and it was a mere $25 a pop (~2009). And I agree that the packaging was better back then too. They had a cool lion on the label. I miss him.
MAO, you guys get any of those sherry-cask editions up there? Down here (Madison), a few certain stores have had piles of them. There’s a fino version, manzanilla, and probably others too that I’ve forgotten about. Age statement is 12 (or maybe 14?). I grabbed a fino because it’s so rare to see an explicit fino-cask malt for under $40, but I haven’t popped it yet—it’ll probably happen whenever I open my Springbank fino. I think it promises a good bit of variety.
If it’s the Cuatro series you’re referring to, they are/were 12 year olds, and finishes (fino, manzanilla, oloroso, PX). <$40 is a very good price for those; last I saw them here they were $60 or so.