July 21, 2014
Tomatin is one of those distilleries – once the largest in Scotland – that was purpose-built to produce malt for use as blending stock. Only recently has the boom in whisky appreciation prompted Tomatin to release and market a single malt. The 12 year in the official lineup from Tomatin is aged in ex-bourbon casks, and then finished for 6 to 9 months in oloroso sherry casks.
Sometimes this oft-repeated “blend fodder to single-malt” Cinderella story is a boon to the marketplace, giving consumers access to previously-unavailable excellent malt. Sometimes, however, whisky that has been engineered for decades to “fill up” a blend with bulk malt might not perform so well as a solo act. Let’s find out…
Nose: Predominant note of candy apple, with undertones of nougat, cinnamon, fruit punch, and breakfast cereal. Standard, in a partially-sherried kind of way.
Palate: Nice density to the body, almost silky. Nut skins, shredded wheat, and dried cherries on a bed of hum-drum malt.
Finish: Short. Some dried fruit, nougat again, and a hint of bitterness, like over-caramelized sugar.
With Water: A few drops of water draw out the tart fruits – cranberries, sour apple, both on the nose and palate. Also some cocktail bitters and marshmallow on the finish. Water isn’t a bad idea here.
Overall: Underwhelming. There are some nice “sherried malt” effects, but nothing stands out as worthy of attention. Forgettable. Of course, it’s wisely marketed at the bargain basement price of $23 to $26, which is perfectly in line with its quality. If you’re desperate to find under-$30 malts in a market inundated with price increases, you should give this one a look. Then again, it probably performs best in a blend.