Tomatin (12 year)

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.

ScotchNoob™ Mark:

About The Distillery

Built in 1897 with originally only two stills, Tomatin gradually increased capacity over the years until it reached a crazy 23 stills by 1986, which made it the largest malt distillery in Scotland at the time. It has since removed almost half of its stills, and now boasts the still-respectable number of six pairs. Tomatin also now produces less malt for blending and more for release as single malt, although its reputation remains as a “filler malt” for the blending crowd. The stills are small with long necks and condensers, and the distillery uses a long fermentation. It uses both ex-bourbon casks and sherry butts, but has its own cooperage, which is unusual these days. Process water comes from the Alt na Frith stream that runs through peat-covered quartzite hills and over red granite.

Tomatin (12 year)
40% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $23 - $26
Acquired: (30ml sample bottle) Master of Malt.
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5 Comments

5 Responses to Tomatin (12 year)

  1. Ben says:

    OK, you’re right: this is not wonderful stuff. But consider the low price! (At the Woodmans grocery chain in Wisconsin, you can even find it for less than the range you quote — or you could last time I ventured back home to God’s Country.)

    It’s no secret that how Scotch tastes depends on all kinds of things, including what you’ve had to eat recently, what your body chemistry is that day, even what the weather is currently. (I’ve had days when Laphroaig 10, a dram I consider a gift from the gods, tasted vile.) On those days, the days when you can’t tell the difference but just have to have a Scotch, the Tomatin 12 is ideal. And that’s why I have a bottle on hand. Damning with faint praise, I know, but there it is.

    The Tomatin 15, by the way, is rather better.

  2. Allan Kilpatrick says:

    Not sure if you guys have it over there, but the Tomatin Legacy.NAS is the entry one to go for

  3. Ben says:

    Yes, it’s available in the U.S. Thanks for the tip!

  4. Eric G says:

    Tomatin 18 tastes like a really good 12 year old whisky – and it’s priced like a 12 year old whisky. I don’t mind that Tomatin isn’t mind-blowingly good because they don’t get greedy on the price.

    • Erik R says:

      I like the 18 too. I’ve drank a couple of bottles over the last few years but it’s not very common and the bigger stores that have it have other things I like better so unfortunately I don’t drink it often.

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