Distiller: Tomatin. ABV: 46%. Age: 18 years. Region: Highlands. Price: $75-80.
Tomatin is a Highlands distillery that puts 80% of its output into blends, but has been reconfiguring much of its single malt line over the past few years in an effort to raise its profile: higher ABVs, new cask finishes, and new packaging set to launch in March 2016. (The current look, staid without quite being classical, isn’t doing them any favors–the picture above shows the pre-March 2016 look.)
The latest Tomatin 18 is finished in ex-Oloroso sherry casks for 2.5 years, after 15.5 years in ex-bourbon casks. They refer to the release as “heavily sherried,” which I wouldn’t–not in a time of wall-to-wall sherry bombs like the Aberlour A’Bunadhs and Glenfarclas 105. I would, however, call the Tomatin 18 delicious–and an excellent value for an 18-year-old in today’s market.
The nose is darkly fruity with Black Forest cake and nice round malt. The palate has red fruit, fresh ginger, clove, and light smoke. The complexity grows with time in the glass, as does the smoke–so much I half-wonder whether a little peated malt didn’t creep in there somewhere. The finish is long and spicy, with dried cherry and barrel-bottom tannins in great balance.
A good first malt from a distiller you’re new to is one that makes you want to explore more. On that score–and many others–the Tomatin 18 is a big success. Sláinte! -BO