Yep, more booze. Continuing my 2018 as I mean to go on. This is a rather special occasion though, as I’ve never actually written a blog post about whisky before. So I’m pretty excited, and hope I don’t destroy your confidence in me as a writer and a seasoned drinker. We’ll see how it goes.
While many of you will know that my drink of choice is always gin, I’ve actually started to drink more whisky than anything else these days. ‘I can’t believe it!’ I hear you cry. Well guess what, I’m equally surprised as you are. But I’ve found it to be the perfect evening tipple, and one particular brand that I currently can’t get enough of is Tomatin. So when I found out that Tomatin’s Regional Sales Manager Stan Reid would be hosting a tasting at Magnum Wine Shop, I genuinely couldn’t contain my glee.
Over the course of the evening we tried six whiskies in total, which is a mean feat in itself. I’ll take you through the full range of Tomatin products we sampled, including some rather fancy limited editions. I know, I’m spoiling you.
To kick things off, we dived into the Tomatin 12 Year Bourbon and Sherry (43% ABV) – an ’introductory’ whisky of sorts. This was the most easy drinking whisky of the evening, and certainly the sweetest. As the name suggests, its aged in Bourbon and Sherry casks, producing a distinct expression with notes of apples and sweet spice. There’s a certain indulgent richness in texture, as well as plenty of body that balances with tasting notes of lemon and orange. A well-constructed, sweet whisky that went down an absolute dream.
We next moved onto Cask Strength Bourbon and Sherry, at a whopping 57.5%. Despite the high percentage, it’s actually much milder than you’d expect- there’s plenty of soft notes of chocolate, caramel and spice which slowly build up on your palette; the taste then evolves with a rich finish of vanilla, and a slight hint of fudge that lingers on your tongue. You do get the odd prickle of alcohol now and again, but it’s not an unpleasant effect by any means. A solid effort.
14 Year Bourbon and Port (46%) was then on the agenda. As expected, it’s a bold yet sweet whisky, benefitting from its time spent in Tawny port casks. There’s a certain richness and body, with aromas of red berries and honey on the nose. This develops into a rather fruity, almost nutty sensation in taste, with lasting expressions of coffee and oak. This one’s an easy drinker, to the point that you can power through it at quite a pace. You’ve been warned.
Our fourth whisky was a bit of a peaty one- the limited edition ‘Earth’ Refill Hogshead Oak, at 46%. It’s the third edition of Tomatin’s ‘Five Virtues’ series, in which the elements of nature are celebrated. The whole philosophy behind the series was a bit lost on me, but I tell you what, it’s a bloody good whisky regardless. Peat flavours are generally more unusual in whisky (according to Stan) and this is down to the peat-dried malted barley in the refill Hogshead casks. It’s therefore a bit of a first for Tomatin, as they’ve never actually released a peated malt before. This uniqueness is reflected in flavour, which is sweet and smoky in equal measure; it’s a mix of vanilla, burnt heather, black fruits and light smoke. I’ll go as far as describing the taste as reminiscent of bonfire night, and it’s absolutely marvellous. My favourite whisky by a mile.
Next, we got stuck into the third batch of 1988 Bourbon, at a respectable 50%. Aged with bourbon casks and port piping, it’s another Tomatin classic categorised as a ‘breakfast whisky’ for its sweet and fresh taste. I’d advise leaving this one to rest in the glass for a bit, as the nose takes a little longer to open up. If you manage to resist the urge of drinking it straight away, you’ll find delicate aromas of honey and orange peel, as well as more earthy tones. On the mouth there’s an array of fruit, oak and hints of ginger, which then develop into a subtly smoky finish. Not the boldest of tastes by any means, but it’s a great single malt that’s a worthy addition to any whisky collection. Providing you’ve got £177 that is.
To finish, we cracked open the Cu Bocan Limited Edition, at 46% ABV. There was a fair bit of hype in the room for this one, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It’s lightly peated, and matured in a combination of ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and virgin oak casks, which create a layered, distinct flavour. On the nose, you’ll find tones of zest and citrus, which mislead you into thinking it’s a classically light whisky. It therefore came as a surprise to find that the tasting notes are actually bursting with smoke and spice, with a slightly harsh chilli finish. As such, I found Cu Bocan a little strong for my own personal taste, but it went down a storm with the hardened whisky fans.
I’ve had an absolute ball at this particular tasting. While it may not be my usual territory, I feel like I’ve learnt an awful lot more about the distillation process of whisky, as well as refining my palette and preferred tastes. Stan’s infinite whisky knowledge has been second to none, and it’s been a pleasure to host such an informative rep in our little shop. I also ended up fairly squiffy, as suspected. Can’t really ask for much more than that can you?
To find out more about Tomatin’s fabulous selection of whisky, visit http://www.tomatin.com/home/