Tomatin Cask Sample (A.D. Rattray) Ref #9111
Here’s another quirky one, posted for no other reason than that it’s my site and I can. A cask sample that hasn’t been locally bottled. What good is a review like this, you may ask? Well…it’s not, really, if you look at these little jottings as a potential shopping guide. If, however, you’re looking for some entertaining education and a bit of whisky nerdery…read on.
Several months back, a good mate of mine, Jonathan Bray of Purple Valley Imports, brought this Tomatin cask sample by. It was sort of a ‘tack on’ to a private A.D. Rattray range tasting we were doing that night at my place. A few of the usual suspects crowded around conspiratorially and gloated over many a glass of rare and exceptional whisky. Y’know…just the average evening with friends ’round here. 😉
On to the whisky…
ADR does things the right way; bottling strong, clean and exceptional malts pulled from distilleries all over the rolling green of Scotland’s distilleries, as well as from owner Tim Morrison’s personal stores of whisky. For a little more on this, check out a previous ATW piece here.
But…sometimes a certain cask isn’t quite right for a certain market. Samples are pulled from barrels, and ultimately a decision is made as to whether or not it is ready to be bottled, and where it should be allocated. In the case of this particular Tomatin cask, I have little to no information. I do believe Jonathan mentioned it having been bottled for another market, but I haven’t seen it personally. What I wouldn’t give to try the official ADR release against this advance sample. The development of whisky through all of it’s stages is one of the things I take huge interest in.
As you can tell by the photo above…there is an awful lot of particulate in this whisky. Those are bits of cask sediment. Quite literally, pieces of the charred inner staves of the barrel it was aged in. We’re not talking miniscule floaties here, as you can see. These are large chunks of wood. How delightfully archaic and authentic. Love it. Now that’s a high fiber manly malt. I have one other similar bottle (complete with particulate) from a recent tour at Laphroaig. I wax sealed the top of that one, and plan to leave it for years to come. Should be an interesting malt to revisit at some point in the decades ahead.
Let’s talk about Tomatin. This is a Highland distillery that is on a bit of an upswing of late. The market has seen an influx of those snazzy red, black and white boxes (12, 15, 18, 30, 40, Legacy, Decades). Nice to see some variety. Keeps the game interesting. I’ve tried the first three mentioned, as well as the Decades, and truly have trouble reconciling those OBs with this single cask. This is exactly why the single cask market exists. It is bloody fascinating to see just how much all the factors of the process (including vatting good and bad casks together) affect the end product.
This \tomatin sample has got a warehouse date stamp of 12/Jan/2009, but when this was actually bottled and where it ultimately ended up are a mystery to me. Fun stuff.
Nose: Can’t recall ever nosing caramels and florals so intertwined. Fudge and soft chocolate. Orange. Maybe blueberry. Nutmeg on eggnog. Heavy cream. Hint of smoke. Touch of almond. Fairly mature, I’d guess, by the rising bread dough and vanilla notes. Very, very integrated.
Palate: Enormous loud arrival. Prickly and peppery. Coffee. Mixed chocolates. Some very tight greens at play for a brief bit. Develops a little doughy again. Not quite up to the nose, but still brilliant.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt
Local store recently started carrying Tomatin 12, 15, 18 and Cu Bocan. With all the AS’s on this site I’d assume some would have at least tried and have an opinion on the 12-18. Reviews I’ve seen have been mixed. Any comments on these whiskies?
I don’t remember much about them except (the 12 15 and 18) they were fairly forgettable.
Thanks! I guess I can just stick with Ardmore TC ($30), Port Charlotte Scottish Barley ($50) and Glenfarclas 105 ($75), which are similar in price and are definitely worth buying.
Or depending where you are, try an Amrut. Some are in that price range. Fusion, CS, Peated CS…
If you’re looking for Sherry, I would say spend an extra 10 dollars for an A’Bunadh.
Oh my! All these NASs – I can feel the approach of guilt trips…..
…he started it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The addition of the victim angle was a nice touch, but it’s all still just saying “there are some good whiskies with NAS labels”. Still, all the best and I do wish the Habs the best of luck.
Can’t you tell when you’re being baited?
Sure I can, which is why I give the previous “the statement was neither in favour nor against any boycott, not a barb at any person” all the weight it deserves. And don’t worry: I don’t expect anyone to tell me what age statements have to do with bottling dates (because, or course, they have nothing to do with each other) – so please save yourself the trouble of again pointing out that bottling dates tell people when products are bottled, because that has nothing to do with the question either.
Exactly. Forgettable is a very apt description.
If you can’t say anything nice…
No. Kidding. Sort of. Tomatin, to me, is mediocre whisky at best. Until you start hitting the ridiculously old and rare, there’s not much appeal. It’s a very generic malt, to be honest. The 40 year old is rather exceptional. The 30 is ok. Anything younger is…well…not for me. I will be doing a run of the range in the coming weeks.
I couldn’t resist the allure of trying one and bought the 18 for $65. Has a strange light orangy-red color (E-150?), but the nose and palate were good, although the finish was less so. Planning to let it have its air time to see if it changes. It has a flavor that I know I’ve come across before, and tonight I came up with HP15. I don’t have a bottle of it around to compare, but maybe you do.
Okay, I’ve given my bottle of Tomatin 18 several months and it’s now down to 1/2 full. No improvement at all and the taste, while not bad, is fairly bland. It was only $65, but I can get many other bottles that are better for the same or less. I’ll give it an 81 and pass on any further purchases. Anyone want my remaining half bottle?