Tag Archive: Tomatin

Cu Bocan: Creation 1 – Imperial Stout and Moscatel Edition (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Light gold. Thin slow streaks come from the spirit for the most part, with a few faster streaks standing out.

Nose: Salty. Honey. Peat smoke, Brown bread. Milky coffee. Vanilla. Water adds fudge and brandy cream.

Body: Warming. Honey. Peat smoke. Beef slices. Milky chocolate liqueur. Red grapes. Chocolate coated nuts. Brown bread. Water adds sweet red wine. Rum and raisins. Vanilla fudge. Marshmallow. White grapes. Sherry trifle.

Finish: Honeycomb. Beef slices. Slightly numbing alcohol. Fudge. Water adds glacier cherries in brandy. Milky hot chocolate. Marshmallow. Nutella.

Conclusion: Ok, I am very taken with this. Especially when you try it with water. Neat it has just a touch of alcohol fire, a touch that is numbed by water and turns it into something wonderfully chewy, But I get ahead of myself. Again.

Anyway, on the nose it is a mix of sweet highland notes, peat smoke and a hint of the imperial stout influence with a milky coffee touch. It is a nice, smooth mix with that wisp of smoke to entice you in for something a bit more daring. Oddly, here there is also a salty touch I would not expect from a Highland, calling more to the Islands – though that note does disappear with water.

The body starts to open up that barrel ageing influence, especially with water. It works the same sweet but peat touched base with lots of honey and vanilla fudge notes meets smoke – however the barrel rises it to sweet red grapes and dessert wine, and sinks it down into chocolate liqueur. Again water really brings these two poles out. Instead of that harsh touch it has neat, it becomes a smokey, chocolate liqueur dusted sherry trifle thing with water.

It needed the water to smooth and ease out the fire, but now it is relaxing, rewarding and complex. There is a bready, kind of netella covered brown toast middle that is a wonderful balance of sweet and savoury, that then leads out into a similarly mixed sweet, spice, smoked and grounded finish.

Uses peat without feeling the need to aim for Islay. Uses barrel ageing while still showing impressive work from the base spirit. Smooth but chewy. Very much recommended.

Background: So, Cu Bocan is a decent wee dram, a lightly peated take on Tomatin and now they are getting a bit wild with this! This is has been aged in imperial stout casks from Black Isle Brewery and Bacalhoa Moscatel de Setubal wine casks. I know only a few of the words to do with wine, but all of the ones to do with imperial stout and that had me pretty excited here. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Had no specific music on during drinking this, just shoved my tunes on random and waited to see what came up.

Connoisseurs Choice Tomatin 1997
Connoisseurs Choice: Tomatin: 1997 (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 17 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Thick grain to light gold.

Viscosity: Very many thin, very slow streaks.

Nose: Caramel. Stewed fruit. Thick alcohol. Wheat husks. Oatmeal. Water brings feathers, but more water adds tropical fruit and pineapple.

Body: Soft vanilla. Noticeable alcohol. Salted fudge. Water adds custard and white chocolate. Still warming in the alcohol. Sugared almonds. More water removes heat, adds pineapple and more white chocolate.

Finish: Honey. Stewed apricot. Fudge and white chocolate. Water makes honey nut cornflakes. Lightly salty. Tropical fruit tins and lightly oily. More water makes more white chocolate, grapes and a hint of raisins.

Conclusion: Tomatin always seem surprisingly wide ranging in the notes it hits – it comes in first with a simple, easily catchable hook up front, but it you pay attention you find much more going on behind the scenes.

Initially big on caramel sweetness and stewed fruit it plays on the sweetness heavily. Water helps bring out the aforementioned range – the whisky has been very evidently influenced by the bourbon ageing – lots of tropical fruit and white chocolate, all very fresh and bright. The only thing that could fool me into thinking this was a sherry barrel is slight subtle raisins notes in the finish. Everything else shouts bourbon. However, while this is good, we have seen many whiskies that are good at showing the barrel ageing, what interests me here are the more subtle notes.

One of the subtleties is the light saltiness. Neat it comes across as salted fudge or caramel – adding an interesting aspect to a sweet whisky. The other noteworthy subtlety is a slight oiliness. A sheen that keeps the whisky clinging and the flavours delivering for a very long time.

When I tried the partially virgin oak aged Tomatin I took the heavy white chocolate influence to be from the fresh oak – however here is still shines through. Guess it must be more how the natural spirit acts when influenced by the bourbon cask.

On the downside neat it is, while not harsh, still very obviously alcohol influenced – though water deals with that easily enough. So, overall, while not overly surprising, it is a very tasty, smooth (with water) whisky with just those slight oddities that manage to make it stand on its own two legs. A subtle twist on a good example of bourbon ageing.

Background: Bottled 2014, which by my estimation puts this at 17 years, though may be off a tad depending on exact dates. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, this gives me a chance to expand my exposure to Tomatin in miniature format. Gordon and MacPhail’s Connoisseurs Choice have always been a great independent bottler, so I trusted that I would get something worthwhile here. Drunk while listening to some Sabaton – I saw them live recently, awesome as always, so have been kicking back with some of their albums.

Tomatin Cù Bòcan

Tomatin: Cù Bòcan (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: No age statement: 46% ABV)

Visual: Pale grain gold.

Viscosity: Many very slow, very thin streaks come out of the spirit.

Nose Tarry thick. Treacle sweet. Smoke. Lime sorbet. Sugar dusting. Lemon cakes and cake sponge.

Body: Honey. Salt rocks. Sweet lime. Peat and broth. Lemon cakes. Sponge. brown bread. Water expands the softer notes – dried apricot and light liquorice. A slight tarry touch still.

Finish: Meaty beef broth. Light salt. Bready. Water leaves a sulphur air and malt chocolate. Big smoke. Toffee bonbon notes and apricot.

Conclusion: The use of peat in fruitier and lighter whiskys intrigues me. It is such a hard balance to pull off, and there are so many different ways you can go with it. Do you go for the subtle wisps of smoke over fruit? Do you drop a deluge of peat that overwhelms the base, or do you try and walk the tightrope between the two?

That last one is the approach this takes. I guess it helps that, despite the lack of peat, base Tomatin is robust enough, if not exactly heavy duty – just enough to give it a lot of room to play here.

The first aromatic element to hit is a thick, tarry punch of treacle and smoke. Yet as you wait, it recedes back letting soften lemon cakes and lime sorbet notes come out. From these first moments the pattern for the entire whisky is set. It comes in heavy up front, then easy out, an element it repeats in the body and finish. Meaty broth and soft lemon.

You always find those tarry thick notes up front, not brutal, but strong, and then it seeps into soft indulgence. It is remarkably consistent throughout the whisky, and the use of water just means it emphasises this progression more.

Frankly it does the balance to a tee and that impresses. Never an assault, but never able to be overlooked. It is the softest kick to the nuts you will ever get, metaphorically speaking.

Well worth taking a few wee drams to examine.

Background: I love the smaller whisky bottles, it gives me a chance to try a wide range of expressions. This one, picked up from Independent Spirit, is apparently named after the legend of some sort of spectral hellhound. Anyway, this is basically the peated (15ppm) expression of Tomatin, aged in a mix of bourbon, sherry and virgin oak casks. so should be interesting. Drunk while listening to “Against Me!” Predominantly “I was a teenage anarchist”. Also a bit of “Feed The Rhino.” for variety.

Tasting Notes: Tomatin: Legacy

Tomatin Legacy

Tomatin: Legacy (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: No Age Statement: 43% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold.

Viscosity: Moderate speed thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Mellow. Pencil shavings. Vanilla fudge. Oak. Light alcohol heat. Shredded wheat and barley husks. Cinnamon. Water smoothes to white chocolate and toffee.

Body: White chocolate. Noticeable alcohol. Oak. Smooth malt chocolate. Cinnamon. Bready. Waters smoothes, gives white chocolate much more heavily and adds light orange crème.

Finish: Charred oak. White chocolate. Nuttiness. Coriander spice. Waters makes more oak, yet still has touch of alcohol.

Conclusion: For once my terrible memory has actually come in useful here. You see, if I had remembered that this had been partially aged in virgin oak then I would have been convinced that the bourbon imagery, not to mention the smooth white chocolate notes, were psychosomatic. However, I did forget until after the review, so here it is.

Initially I noticed the bourbon imagery in the aroma – there was a kind of barley husk or shredded wheat layer, mixed with sweet elements, which seemed a similar style to a few of the bourbons I had encountered. What followed that was a sweet main body with the same kind of expectations. What I hadn’t seen before is that light white chocolate character that is layered throughout the entire whisky. Initially it brought to mind images of white wood, mainly as it mixed very satisfyingly with the oak elements – later however it actually reminded me of those Cadbury’s Dream white chocolate eggs. Though that may only be because I was utterly addicted to them many years ago when I was working bar in Edinburgh.

Anyway, this whisky has a touch of rye bourbon in that it is just slightly spiced – that hard to pin down whisky character in feel and flow, and it all goes together very well. It is maybe a bit hard to get rid of that alcohol burn, but for a smooth whisky it is far from dull.

Its flaw is in the tail end to finish – for a whisky that trades heavily on a set of lighter notes the rough charring of the ending is a detriment. It still leaves an interesting whisky, but it does mark it down, and means it is having a harder time finding a niche. So, a bit of a rough end, and a bit hard to ditch the alcohol burn, but a very interesting lighter whisky with unusual notes.

Background: Tomatin! I’ve found this distillery a few times in pubs, but never got around to reviewing any expression. As you may have guessed if you read this regularly, I found this at Independent Spirit. This expression has been aged in a mix of Bourbon and virgin oak. I had music on Random while drinking this, resulting in a mix of Bad Religion. Doctor Who, Republica band the like. Nowt too embarrassing.

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