Four Tomatins

A fistful of Tomatin

 

One always has to be honest with himself and his readers. That’s why in the past I have not shunned from writing about whiskies that I thoroughly disliked and never hesitated in denigrating the distilleries that produced them. Yes Glenburgie, Glentauchers and Tullibardine, I’m talking about you.

Nontheless I have been delaying this review for quite some time...

tomatin

It is common knowledge that Tomatin is no producer of high end single malts. This former moloch distillery, now reduced to a medium-large player in the field produces a light style of whisky that perfectly suits the needs of the blend industry. However, they are generally applauded for their affordable age statement range often accompanied with the statement that the price/quality is just right.
Reviewing the 12yo I found little redeemable in this whisky, but given the constant praise from fellow reviewers and the kind nature and down to earth nature of the distillery owners on social media, I gave them a second shot,… a third shot,… a fourth...

After trying their peated whisky called Cù Bòcan, I essentially gave up. None of these releases will change my first impression on Tomatin.

1. Tomatin 12 - AO Bourbon & finished in Sherry casks - 40% ABV
2. Tomatin 15 - AO Bourbon casks - 43% ABV
3. Tomatin 18 - AO Bourbon & finished in Oloroso butts - 46% ABV
4. Cù Bòcan - Virgin, AO Bourbon & Sherry casks- 46% ABV

A nice and interesting way to compare the influence of age and wood. 12yo is sherry driven dram, the 15yo opts for a pure Bourbon treatment, while the 18yo got a richer Oloroso finish. The Cù Bòcan is the peated NAS release.

Tomatin 12 (OB)

The Bland

T1Description: matured for 12 years in an ex-bourbon cask, finished in a sherry cask, bottled at 43% ABV.

Nose: a faint nose of mashed bananas, straw and ground wheat.

Mouth: a body light as a feather, with a palate so bland that you can just make out notes of bananas, caramels and maple syrup. I honestly don’t get where other reviewers keep getting those notes from.

Finish: short to non-existent, a whiff of orange oil and custard.

 

 

Tomatin 15 (OB)

The Nasty

T2Description: matured for 15years in an ex-Bourbon cask, bottled at 43% ABV.  

Nose: a nose that simply can’t hide its bourbon ancestry: sweet buttered, full of toffee, the obvious cheap vanilla. Nothing wrong with that...

Mouth: light, sour and metallic, green apples, marshmallow, mandarin, honey.

Finish: fleeting and undescriptive.

 

 

Tomatin 18 (OB)

The Acceptable

T3Description: matured in ex-bourbon casks, but spends the last two and a half years in an oloroso cask. Bottled at 46% ABV .

Nose: a demure floral nose with a few soapy elements. Vague notes of soft but sweet wood smoke, vanilla, a touch of candied ginger and red apples.

Mouth: medium bodied with an ensemble of honey, apricots, mellowed oak and touch of orange oil.

Finish: watery and short, notes of heather, peppery oak, slightly metallic (copper) in the tail.

 

 

Cù Bòcan (OB)

The Revolting

T4Description: a peated expression (phenol level at 15ppm), matured in a virgin, American oak bourbon & sherry casks, bottled at 46% ABV.

Nose: at heart leafy and musty: balm of turpentine in water, citrus, a hint of leek. Notes of grain and chalk, the peat smoke subdued in the background, almost unnoticeable.

Mouth: young, nervous and sharp body with a palate driven by grain biscuits, acrid smoke, ginger, cloves and citrus.

Finish: quite long, peppery and bitter.

 

 

The Verdict

Well, let's just  start at the beginning.

Tomatin 12: by no means an awful whisky, but by God so incredibly dull! Did those 12 years in a sherry cask do anything to improve this? Were they too generous with the water during the bottling process? Maybe we should be grateful that they did not dilute this down to the customary 40% for entry level whiskies.

Tomatin 15: three more years… and it actually got worse. While the 12yo was harmless in its blandness, this one developed a nasty metallic undertone.

Tomatin 18: relief is the keyword here, we’re finally getting some depth in this dram. It is a different beast from its younger brothers: thicker body, fuller palate. Those metallic notes in the finish may be a little off-putting, but they are barely noticeable.

Cù Bòcan: this is bad, real bad. The first time in months that I had trouble finishing my glass. There is some prejudice against Highland or Speyside distilleries trying on the peated coat: this is exactly why. It is a hot steaming mess, the immature spirit, the trickery with the casks, the cheap addition of peat. Cù Bòcan was named so in reference to a devil dog tale, wel they succeeded in making the link. But not in a good way: bad points all around.

 T1a  T2a  T3a  T4a
Score: 77 Score: 70 Score: 81 Score: 66
Nose:
19
Taste:
18
Finish:
20
Balance:
20
Nose:
18
Taste:
16
Finish:
17
Balance:
19
Nose:
21
Taste:
21
Finish:
19
Balance:
20
Nose:
17
Taste:
14
Finish:
15
Balance:
20

< 75: undrinkable, avoid at all costs
75-79: acceptable, give it a try but don't spend to much money on it
80-84: average, enjoyable whiskies mostly easy sippable entry-level single malt 
85-89: above average drams, often well aged expressions, open your wallet
90-94: excellence, sorry kids no x-mas presents this year, daddy needs this bottle
95-99: divinity, call your bank manager for another mortgage on your house