Tomatin 18 y.o. Review

Tomatin 18 y.o.019

46% abv

Score:  84.5/100


Ok.  Without even tasting this I can tell we’re finally moving in the right direction with Tomatin.  The nose on this 18 is miles ahead of both the choppy 12 and the rather milquetoast 15.  In fact I’d almost think this was an Aberlour if nosed blind.  Not quite a’bunadh territory, to be clear, but Aberlour nevertheless.

The Oloroso influence here is really the main talking point.  The bottle indicates that the malt is ‘finished in Oloroso’ (so not a full blown maturation), but it’s a seriously lengthy finishing period.  Whereas the 12 is a 6-9 month finish, the 18 is two and a half years in sherry butts.  Even so, the sherry notes are more mighty than expected and quite well integrated.  The heft of fruit and earthy tobacco notes kinda makes me think these were wet fill barrels though.  Just speculation on my part.

The unfortunate thing is that the palate simply doesn’t deliver what the nose advertises.  Bad, by no means, but certainly a lot sharper than expected.  And that bitterness?  Hmmm…not quite working for me.  All in all, a slightly unbalanced drink with a better than expected nose.

Nose:  Biscuits and jam.  Freshly milled grains.  Big sherry notes.  At cask strength I’d think we were in Aberlour territory.  A little berry and cherry.  Tobacco and spicy cedar.  Quite lush.  Vanilla cake with thick berry coulis.

Palate:  Fruity and spicy delivery.  A lot of wood.  Coffee notes, with a bit of chocolate.  With a bit of sharp bitterness.  Not nearly as pleasant as the nose.  Too tannic.  Like eating berries with some of the greens or stems still attached.  But…still quite solid.  Some ginger, pepper and apple skins.  Toothpicks.

Thoughts:  This could be much more special at cask strength.  And the nose is miles ahead of the palate, but still solid.  The nose actually hints at barrels older than 18 years.


 – Reviewed by:  Curt

 – Photo:  Curt

6 thoughts on “Tomatin 18 y.o. Review

  1. Cam Chan

    I rather liked this one. It wouldn’t convince me to spend my $100+ on a full bottle, but the sample pack was a fun experience.
    I do have high hopes for this distillery as I’ve noticed they are bottling their newer releases at 46% or higher, I would speculate that maybe the cask experimentation they’re doing a la Bruichladdich is just an alternative means of production since I keep hearing that sherry casks are becoming increasingly expensive?
    At least they haven’t resorted to too much NAS.
    That’s my thoughts anyway.

    Thanks for putting out the quality reviews, always enjoy the reading material 🙂

    1. ATW Post author

      Thanks, Cam. Appreciate the kind words.

      Just wait. All these Cu Bocan and tetra-pack releases are an indicator Tomatin is heading into NAS waters too, I think.

  2. Ol' Jas

    I’m still kicking myself for not snapping up the one odd bottle of this my local mom-and-pop had on the shelf for $38 last year. When I went back for it, the clerk told me she bought it herself and retroactively cautioned me, “It was really expensive.”

  3. Robert

    I’ve had this one open for a while without noticeable improvement. It’s not bad, it’s just not good either. I’ve forced myself to have a dram now and then to just get rid of it, but I’ve got about 1/3 of a bottle left and don’t have any desire to finish it. Yes, it was only $66+tax for an 18, but I’d rather get a good NAS than this ($68 for Corry) or an 18 YO blend ($58 for James Buchanan 18 SR). Even at half price($33), I’d reach for Glenmo 10 or Ardmore TC instead, or any of several great bourbons.

    You are right that the nose is much better, but the palate is disappointing and the finish almost nonexistent. This might be one to pour for guests over rocks, but I’ve tried it and the ice and water neuter it totally (which may be okay for some guests!). I’d give it an 78, being very closer to an okay blend to me than a single malt.

    1. ATW Post author

      Exactly. I wouldn’t go quite as low as you, but agree with the assessment (especially related to the lack of finish).

      1. Robert

        What really kills it is that Glenfarclas 105 10YO is only $10 more and Glendronach 15 is $15 more. Enormously better whiskies for not that much more. I tried it again tonight and I’m thinking about dumping the rest out, but I’ll probably try to give it away instead. I’ll never buy Tomatin again, especially when great whiskies are just a few dollars more.


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