After a couple of stops in the eastern Highlands (at Glencadam and Fettercairn) let’s take the bourbon cask train back to the northern Highlands, to Tomatin. Tomatin is the southernmost of the distilleries usually grouped in the northern Highlands—south of Glen Ord, Teaninich, Balblair etc. and quite a bit south of Clynelish and Pulteney. It’s also actually further south than a number of Speyside distilleries. But all of this is neither here nor there.
This is one of my more timely reviews, being of a whisky bottled this June. But it’s still not very useful as it was bottled by hand, by me in the distillery shop—it’s not available for sale outside the distillery (except at auction, I suppose). The shop (my report on which you may remember) had five casks available for filling bottles from in June. They kindly allowed me to get tastes of whatever I was interested in, even though I had not done a tour, and this 12 yo ex-bourbon cask was my favourite. It was my first time filling a bottle at a distillery and I don’t mind telling you it was very exciting. This is my first time drinking it since tasting it at the distillery and I’m interested to see what I make of it now that the excitement is behind me.
Tomatin 12, 2005 (58.3%; bourbon hogshead #2709; hand-filled at the distillery; from my own bottle)
Nose: Polished oak, wood glue, waxy citrus, pineapple and malt. With time the wood glue expands and is joined by some vanilla/pastry crust. Water pulls out more of the vanilla/baked goods complex.
Palate: Pretty much everything from the nose and in that order. Rich mouthfeel and very drinkable despite the high strength. The citrus gets stronger with every sip and the mango from the finish joins it and the pineapple here. Stickier with water and the texture gets oilier.
Finish: Long. The fruit expands here and gets more tropical (mango) before spicy oak shows up for the finish. Longer still with water with some brown sugar and some pine joining the party.
Comments: Very glad I filled a bottle from this cask. This is as Tomatin as you could ask for. It’s not hard to imagine this distillate maturing into an old-school fruit bomb if put away in a second-fill cask for a couple of decades. Of course, with an oloroso cask and a PX cask also available alongside this one—to say nothing of a virgin oak cask and a 25 yo—this was the least tapped of the casks when I was there in June. I got bottle 94 from this cask; meanwhile the two sherry casks—which tasted more generically sherried—were much further along. It’s no surprise then that Tomatin is not releasing ex-bourbon casks more widely; peat and sherry is where it’s at. But if you make it to the distillery, do check out whichever ex-bourbon cask they have (I assume this one must be getting on at this point).
Rating: 88 points.
Okay, I will close out the month on Wednesday with the last of this run of bourbon cask whiskies, going further north still.