Tomatin 12 y.o. Review

Tomatin 12 y.o.009

43% abv

Score:  79/100


Often touted as a great ‘value’ malt, Tomatin has made a huge splash in the whisky world over the past couple of years.  The black, red and white seems to be taking over.  The shelves in our local spirits retailers sag under the weight of an ever-growing range of expressions, the likes of which I haven’t seen since Bruichladdich’s heyday.  This isn’t to compare the two, however, as they’re simply night and day in so many ways.

At the time of writing I’ve worked through the age-stated range (reviews of all coming this week), the peated variants, some of the cask-finished expressions, single casks and even a raw cask sample, and I hate to admit it, but until you hit the quarter century mark, this brand is just not very exciting.  Not only that, it has some rather overt blemishes.  Poor spirit cut may be what is giving those solventy notes, I’d guess.  That or dead and sluggish over-used bourbon barrels perhaps, which haven’t given or taken enough.  The bourbon base with sherry finish seems a little incongruous here and somewhat out of balance; kinda like those home vatting experiments so many of us have tried (who has one of those little barrels?).

Perhaps I’m less forgiving than some others out there, as Tomatin 12 retails for about $60 locally.  I’ve read mention elsewhere of this one selling in the $30 US neighbourhood.  For that price I’d be a little more inclined to see why others are so supportive (even if still not being willing to buy it myself).  At $60 though?  Pass, thanks.  There are way better deals to be found on way better malts.

Nose:  Slight solvent notes. Dough and dry flour.  Kinda gristy.  Smells younger than 12 years old.  Apple pie.  Cinnamon, ginger and pepper.  A mishmash of unidentifiable fruit, but not very lively.  Maybe fruit candy, at that.  Malty.  A smooth toasted vanilla note.  Develops some toffee notes over time.

Palate:  Pastry with fruits and spices.  Orange zest.  Some loud notes from the cask; sherry influence for sure.  Something seems off here.  There is a dry, woody tartness that is not working.

Thoughts:  Meh.  More character than the big ‘Glens’, but more glaring flaws too and nearly double the price.


 – Reviewed by:  Curt

 – Photo:  Curt

4 thoughts on “Tomatin 12 y.o. Review

  1. Brent

    Thanks for the review on this one. I’m usually a bargain shopper of sorts and had been curious to hear what this was like given the relatively inexpensive nature of the beast. Were I too pick it up, it’s only $25.99 at the TotalWine in Bloomington MN for my next visit, but I’m disinclined to do so in spite of the stellar price (MN has 10% tax btw) given the review. And FWIW the Glenlivet 12 is a dollar less at the same store.
    Given the now lousy exchange rate I’m more cautious on my U.S. based purchases but this is a bargain I’ll likely pass up.

  2. Troy

    Ouch! Yeah. Under $30 in Ohio. Perfectly decent for that. Not a favorite, but reasonable. Old Pulteney 12 is the nearly same cost here…better bang for the buck.

  3. Firth of Fifth

    Yanks are undoubtedly spoiled as here in Canada we get royally screwed by taxes. In my area Glenlivet 12 is generally around $40-$50 depending on where you shop. As for Old Pulteney 12, well I paid significantly more for my last bottle than $30. As in double that price, if not more.

    I can’t say I’ve ever priced out Tomatin (as it’s a malt that doesn’t “do much for me”) but I’d bet a full paycheque it wouldn’t be found here in Alberta for $25.99. And for the record I’m sure I’d be glad to pay $26 for ANY 12 yr no matter how crappy the review haha. Just be thankful, malt brothers…

    1. ATW Post author

      Canadian taxation is ludicrous. It’s been commented on before by Ralfy, traveling ambassadors and all sorts of industry folk I’ve met. Unfortunately not a lot we can do.


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