A couple of weeks back the Malt Nuts gathered to take on Tomatin and sip through everything we could get our single malt loving hands on. As usual, the majority of what we drank came from single casks by independent bottles. Though that doesn’t mean they all were. In fact, this tasting contained a higher-than-usual amount of OBs. Which was super fun to see how they played out in the reveal.
As usual, everything was blinded into minis and no one but me and Barry had any form of a clue as to what was in this. And per usual I didn’t think about this lineup for the 7 weeks between when I bottled and when I sat down for a sniff and a sip. It was an unboxing surprise all over again. And speaking of the lineup, here’s how it broke down.
- Round 1: Tomatin aged in ex-Bourbon casks
- Round 2: Tomatin aged 16+ years
- Round 3: Tomatin aged in Sherry Casks
And now… let’s drink!
Round 1: Tomatin aged in ex-Bourbon casks
1A: Cadenhead Tomatin 10 years: 55% – ex-Bourbon
- Nose: Minerally vanilla, light malt, plasticy and fake butter.
- Palate: Touch soapy, malty, vanilla, minerality.
- Finish: Medium -> Soapy, malty, minerally.
- Overall: (1.5 / 5) Weak and uninteresting with a wholly light profile. Not offensive, but something is a touch off.
1B: Cadenhead Tomatin 10 years: 54.4% – ex-Bourbon
- Nose: Sweet, malty, mineral, honey, plastic, fruit, fake butter.
- Palate: Fruit, waxy candy, mineral, honey.
- Finish: Short -> Light fruity candy and wax.
- Overall: (1.5 / 5) Touch of soap slowly shows more and more as it opens. Has a “fake” essence to it, like it’s all artificial.
1C: Battlehill Tomatin 8 years: 55.8% – ex-Bourbon
- Nose: Strawberry cream candy, butterscotch, fake butter, citrus, touch vomity and fatty.
- Palate: Vanilla, fruit candy, strawberry cream candy, candied nuts.
- Finish: Medium -> Strawberry cream candy.
- Overall: (1 / 5) Sweet and buttery, but so damn artificial. Tastes like those Strawberries and Cream Lifesavers from when I was a kid.
1D: Single Cask Nation Tomatin 12 years (06-19): 58.1% – 2nd Fill ex-Bourbon Cask
- Nose: Chalky, caramel, fruity kids cereal, malt.
- Palate: Sweetly candy fruity, minerally, fake butter, chalk, mint.
- Finish: Medium -> Sweet dry fruit, touch of menthol.
- Overall: (1.5 / 5) Tart and a touch chalky. It picks up a light menthol note as it opens except on the aroma where it just smells like Fruity Pebbles.
1E: Tomatin Single Cask 12 years (02-14): 53.1% – 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Cask
- Nose: Chalky dried fruit, honey grahams, sour candy.
- Palate: Chalky dried fruit, honey grahams, sour candy, butterscotch flavoring and spice.
- Finish: Medium -> Malty fruit and butterscotch flavoring.
- Overall: (1.5 / 5) Has a weird candy-like quality to it mixed with sour cherries. Sometimes it reminds me of those sour cherry balls, sometimes not… weird and cloying and kinda off-putting with how all these odd candy notes clash.
1F: Tomatin Single Cask 9 years (08-18): 56.6% – 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Cask
- Nose: Waxy, dried fruit, candy sweetness, malt, spice.
- Palate: Nuts, malt, fruit, vanilla and spice.
- Finish: Medium -> Spice, lemon, vanilla and dried orchard fruit… tad perfumy.
- Overall: (2 / 5) Touch perfumy as it opens but all-in-all, the best of the round for sure… though that’s not saying much.
I think it’s rather apparent I didn’t care much for this first round. It was a struggle to get through it the first night and it was a struggle to revisit and go through these again for the notes. Most of my sample bottles are still 1/2 full…
Round 2: Tomatin aged 16+ years
2A: Whiskybroker Tomatin 21 years (94-16): 53.4% – Refill Hogshead
- Nose: Pear, honey, shortbread, nuts, malt.
- Palate: Bananas, marshmallow vanilla, honey roasted nuts.
- Finish: Medium -> Fruit, honey and nuts.
- Overall: (3 / 5) Hmmm… not bad. Pretty good actually… better than anything in round 1 and it has a nice velvety texture.
2B: Jumping Jack Tomatin 17 years (98-15): 55.6%
- Nose: Pear, honey, spice, fruity, waxy vanilla taffy.
- Palate: Vanilla, malty, spice, honey, waxy vanilla taffy.
- Finish: Medium -> Fruit, honey, waxy vanilla taffy.
- Overall: (2.5 / 5) Meh. Inoffensive, easy-going, but not exciting in the least. It’s just ok, unless you love waxy vanilla taffy. If you do then this thing is what you need in your home bar ASAP.
2C: Connoisseur’s Choice Tomatin 16 years (02-19): 58.4% – 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Cask
- Nose: Pear-heavy orchard fruit, candy sweetness, malt, perfume.
- Palate: Sugary sweet and chemically malty.
- Finish: Medium -> Buttered popcorn Jellybellys and artificial caramel.
- Overall: (2.5 / 5) A bit rough going down, and a bit too sweet on the palate and finish. However, the nose is fantastic. If that profile and richness carried through this would have been amazing.
2D: Blackadder Tomatin 17 years (90-07): 59.1% – Hogshead
- Nose: Vomit, butterscotch, old popcorn, metallic.
- Palate: Banana oil, weed, overcooked popcorn and smoked oil.
- Finish: Medium -> Weed and caramel.
- Overall: (1 / 5) It’s a caramel edible eaten in a theater that burnt their popcorn. I actually thought Barry was screwing with us and put a Charbay in here and I forgot about it.
Round 2 started off strong and then it steadily dropped. Like a dead crow shot from the sky. Mistaken for a duck. By a blind hunter. Who let that guy have a gun?
Round 3: Tomatin aged in Sherry Casks
3A: Tomatin Cask Strength: 57.5% – ex-Bourbon & ex-Sherry
- Nose: Buttered popcorn, caramel, dried fruit, key lime pie.
- Palate: Buttered popcorn, caramel, vanilla, dried fruit, key lime pie.
- Finish: Medium -> Charred malt and vanilla custard.
- Overall: (2.5 / 5) A mishmash of odd sensations that’s oddly… not… completely… terrible… kinda.
3B: Tomatin 18 years: 46% – ex-Oloroso Sherry Casks
- Nose: Rich dried fruit, malt, cocoa, spice, licorice, char, caramel popcorn and pie crust.
- Palate: Rich dried fruit, malt, cocoa, spice, licorice, char, kettle corn, and pie crust.
- Finish: Medium -> Malt, pie crust and candy sweetness.
- Overall: (3 / 5) An oddly good malt. I’m not hating this, but it’s so weird. It’s like drinking a shotgun of flavor from a boardwalk candy shop… and I kinda like it.
3A: Malts Of Scotland Tomatin 8 years (08-17): 56.8% – Sherry Hogshead
- Nose: Vomity, fruit candy, Cinnamon Red Hots, Butterscotch syrup, heavily sugared french toast.
- Palate: Fucked up candy. Like eating all of the Harry Potter jellybeans and all the Jelly Belly beans at once.
- Finish: Medium -> Diabetes.
- Overall: (1 / 5) No.
Not even Oloroso could fully save the day.
Verdict: Tomatin isn’t on my list of must-have-malts. There were some good whiskies for sure, but the chaff out-weighted the wheat by a long shot and it ended up being unpleasant overall. I know some folks enjoy Tomatin, but it doesn’t seem like I’m one of them except in very specific circumstances. I just can’t get over that pervasive, and sometimes perversely cloying, candy sweetness.
Till the next one, cheers!
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