Tom – a – tin Rhymes with Satin
Tomatin Tasting – 23rd Septrember 2016
It is always great when we have a friend of ours down to do a tasting, so it was really enjoyable for Alison and I to welcome Alistair Mutch from Tomatin Distillery. Alistair has over 30 years’ experience in the Scotch Whisky business and is the Regional Sales Manager for the UK.
First thing to clear up is the pronunciation of the name, it’s Tom A tin – rhymes with Satin ok got that? Good so let’s continue. The distillery was founded in 1897 and is situated 16 miles south of Inverness in the Monadhliath Mountains. In the mid 80’s Tomatin was the largest Malt Distillery in Scotland with 23 stills, supplying bulk malt for blending mainly to the Japanese Market. They went spectacularly bust in 1985, and were brought out by a consortium formed by two of its customers, becoming the first Scottish Distillery to be owned by the Japanese. – Takara Shuzo Co. & Okara Co. The Japanese very much leave the management at the distillery to run it how they see fit with very little interference from “head office”.
They are a Highland distillery which makes a soft, gentle sophisticated dram, none of that rugged and robust nonsense. The spirit is matured high above sea level (only Dalwhinnie Distillery is higher) in warehouses which are, in Alistair’s words freezing cold even in summer, great for maturation. They have around 140,000 casks of whisky maturing.
The Whiskies – We had to try 8 whiskies, and it was tough to get the list down to that many.
Tomatin 12 years old – 43%
A classic 12 year old using whisky matured in three types of oak cask – one third is Refill casks which have been used at least once before for Scotch Whisky, one third ex-bourbon casks, white American oak casks which have been used to mature Bourbon whiskey, and the last third being matured in ex – Spanish Sherry casks, European oak casks which have held Oloroso sherry. This expression is more citrus fruit apples, pears and a bit nutty, the finish is surprisingly long.
Tomatin 2007 – Rum Cask – 46%.
This whisky is a new bottling having been matured for 9 years in oak casks that previously held Caribbean Rum. This is not a finish, all the maturation was in Rum cask no other wood. This is a very vibrant fresh dram with a lot of Tropical fruit flavour and spicy rummy notes. Every whisky lover should try it, a really fun dram.
Tomatin 14 years old – Port Wood Finish – 46%
It says on the bottle this whisky has spent the last part of its maturation in a cask that previously held Port. To be exact the casks held Symington’s Tawney port for around 50 years. A rich flavour with lots of red berries, honey and toffee, but mainly summer fruit pudding.
Tomatin Cask Strength – 57.5%
When we tried this most of the guys on my table went “wow” we all found it surprisingly good. Because Tomatin is such a gentle elegant dram at cask strength it doesn’t blow your head off and the flavours come through with a crescendo. It’s matured in 50% ex-bourbon and 50% ex-sherry casks, when you add a little water you get golden syrup, ginger nut biscuits, as well as almonds and honey.
Cu Bocan – 46%
Cu Bocan is a peaty expression of Tomatin. It was first made to go into blends, rather than buying in peaty whisky. However the whisky was just too good to be left just for blending. The name Cu Bocan means dog spirit or dog ghost, there is a legend about the spirit of a dog, that when found on the moor, disappears in smoke – therefore a dubious connection smokey, peaty whisky. The connection to Tomatin is that the last wolf in Scotland was killed near the distillery. This expression is lightly peated, and uses Virgin Oak casks, 1st fill and refill casks, both Bourbon and sherry.
Cu Bocan – 2005
A bigger finish to this vintage of Cu Bocan. Bigger flavours, more of the sherry cask flavours.
Cu Bocan – 1988 – 51.5%
This whisky benefits from using 2nd fill casks, not just any 2nd fill casks but casks which have held Ardbeg before. It’s also finished in sherry casks – a great example of old peated whisky, smoky, oaky and mature, not easy to accomplish.
At the end of the evening we were honoured when Alistair presented The Wee Dram with a Brand Champion Award.