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Tomatin 14 Port Finish Review

Distiller: Tomatin. Region: Highlands. ABV: 46%. Age: 14 years. Price: $55.

Tomatin is a fine and under-appreciated Highlands distillery that’s taken a big step toward being properly recognized with a major packaging overhaul in 2016. (For a look at the unflattering old packaging, see our review of the excellent Tomatin 18.)

I like the new look for three reasons: 1) good design makes my eyes happy, 2) what’s in the bottle lives up to the new good looks, and 3) Tomatin’s always been a value buy, and will continue to be–they’re not hiking prices to go with the redesign. That’s reason to celebrate.

The distillery was kind enough to share tastes of the 12-year-old, the no-age-statement Dualchas, and this 14-year-old Port Finish. They’re all worth daily drinkers, but this 14 is my favorite of the bunch.

The core malt is aged for 13 years in the traditional ex-bourbon barrels, then finished for a year in tawny port pipes. That finish imparts to the welcome Tomatin core of malt and oak spice a layer of wild blackberry. The palate adds dark chocolate notes–think chocolate lava cake with fresh wild strawberries. The finish has ripe fruit and lingering spice.

The overall experience is dark and lovely. It’s a great alternative for sherry lovers any day of the week, neck-and-neck with the 18-year-old as my favorite Tomatin yet.

Sláinte, friends! – BO

A Tomatin representative graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Tomatin 18 Review

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

Buy Tomatin 18 online at Mash + Grape