Review: The Tomatin 18 year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
After a quick trip through Austin and then down to Houston, I’m back, and onwards goes the Clean Out Project! Today, we’re looking at one of those often overlooked single malt whiskies, the Tomatin 18 year old.
The Tomatin Distillery, located in the Monadliath Mountains, just 16 miles south of Inverness, is one of the highest distilleries in Scotland sitting at 315 metres above sea-level. It was also one of the largest distilleries in Scotland. At one point in the mid-1970’s, Tomatin had a total of 23 stills (12 wash and 11 spirit), seven spirit safes, and an annual production capacity of 12 million litres! Long a major producer of bulk whiskies for various blends like Chivas Regal, J&B, and even Johnnie Walker, as a single malt, the Tomatin 18 flies under the radar, which is a shame because this is a good bang for the buck single malt.
Review: Tomatin 18 year old, Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Bottled 2013, L1318328 774, 46% abv
Nose: (N) Starts with hints of sherry and raisins, dried fruits, and honey, but then notes of baking spices, cinnamon, some grasses, and a soft saltiness shows up. After a few minutes, I get some old leather. Becomes a bit fruitier with green apples or pineapple, as well as citric notes of lemon. A bit of dusty, oaky and cereal notes with remaining hints of light fruits. There are some floral notes that come in and out, like a whiff of potpourri from a distant room. Is that just a hint of bonfire smoke? Something piney, menthol-ly, too. (W) Water brings out more vanilla to go along with the honey, and also a bit of oakiness. But after a moment or two, the sherry notes take over again, with richer, riper red fruits, like plums and currants, raisins, then some leather, and that hint of lemon. I get what might be just a very slight hint of sulphur, but it is a “good” sulphur. More honey, more baking spices, and, once more, a faint smoke in the distance.
Taste: (N) Initial arrival is, surprisingly, sour lemon candy, becoming warm and spicy honey. The body is oily and a bit heavy, with a good mouth-coating richness. There are orchard fruits, with red apples and pears amidst the citrus influences. Again, just a very slight hint of smoke. With more time in the glass, more sherry influence in the heavy, ripe red fruits, leather, cinnamon and nutmeg. (W) With a small splash of water, still a lemon-infused arrival, but the nose quickly freshens with early spring fruits, some heather, oatmeal, and that omnipresent honey. Soon, the palate becomes richer with more of the sherry notes: a beautiful spiciness, an influx of dried fruits, and the slight saltiness. There are some subtle floral notes, much less of the honey sweetness, and delicate grassy notes.
Finish: Quite a long, warm finish with lemon, orchard fruits early, dried fruits late, more of the barley in a malty dryness behind the fruits Honey and leather, and, again, a very delicate touch of smoke at the tail end. The finish is quite long and very nice!
Overall: I admit that this is my second bottle of the Tomatin 18 and, once more, I was reminded just how enjoyable this whisky is. The Tomatin 18 has a good body, a lively nose, and a well-balanced complexity. Also, this one continues to improve once the bottle has been open for a while. Finally, even though it has risen in price, this remains a very good deal for a quality 18 year old single malt. If you’ve not tried this one, yet, you should!
Distillery: The Tomatin Distillery
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 18 years
ABV: 46% (non chillfiltered)
Maturation: “traditional oak” casks, final maturation in Oloroso Sherry butts
Price: $68.38 (Specs – 2014); $80 (2017)
Availability: Readily available
Sample Source: My own bottle