Taste Review #3 – Tomatin 18 y.o Oloroso cask

This week has seen me attempt to tidy out my study, and clear the last remaining whiskies out of there so I can put them in storage. And during this clear out, I found my tasting notes from the Tomatin I had before I left to go abroad to work. The thing is, I could have cheated and written a review without doing a tasting, but for a Saturday night that would be pretty sad. So I cracked another one open.

Those who have been paying attention will know that when I experiment with new whiskies, I attempt to see if I can get a miniature first, so I don’t spunk a lot of money on a whisky I may not like. Initially, the one plan I had was to do a spread of age and casks within the Tomatin range, so the differences could be compared, but I’ve not done that tonight, I stuck to the one.

My Tomatin Line Up. Note the darker 14 y.o liquid – due to Port Cask

Tomatin Distillery is a local distillery to me, being around 15 miles south of Inverness. The village of Tomatin sits by the River Findhorn in Strathdearn, and is over looked by a impressive Victorian viaduct. Indeed, the main Inverness to Perth railway goes through the distillery complex.

Findhorn Viaduct at Tomatin – Copyright the loose cannon (via Flickr)

The distillery does have a visitors centre which is open all year round. This is just a coupe of minutes from the A9 trunk road between Inverness and Perth, but despite passing it so often, I’ve never visited yet. Given the results based on my taste test, I think I need to make a bit more of an effort.

Bottle and Dram

Age

This malt has a stated age of 18 years old.

Strength

This malt is bottled at 46% a.b.v

Colour

This dram is from a Sherry cask, and thus has a pleasant honey colour to it. Natural colour and non-chill filtered.

Nose

It’s a sherry cask, so dried fruits are there. Sweet, pleasant notes, with a hint of oak, fudge, a slight spice. Chocolate was detected on my second sniff.

Legs

A nice, slow run down.

Palate

No real kick, but a nice steady flow. Smooth as a baby’s bum. Excellent mouth feel. Slight hints of fruit cake, apple, clove and chocolate. Still nice with a teaspoon of water added. Read the whole review before you add water though. I got a surprise


Finish

It’s 46% so I was expecting a bit of a kick. But no, nothing. This whisky was a proper gentleman; it made its exit quietly, leaving nothing but good memories. Nice, strong peppery finish with more chocolate and fruit notes. Oak a bit more pronounced now. Very nice tingle in the mouth. You’ll want more, there is no doubt.

However, this changed a bit when I added water. I added some room temperature spring water and wished I hadn’t. In fact, I’m being diplomatic. It changed massively and not for the better in my opinion. The alcohol burn became more pronounced, the finish was of burnt rubber or a burning match, and this only means one thing: Sulphur.

Sulphur compounds can be present due to the use of sulphur candles to sterilise the Sherry casks and to prevent bacteria growth. If the cask isn’t rinsed properly before it is filled with the spirit, this taste can carry over. Be aware that some sherried casks do have this risk.

Conclusion

For an 18 year old whisky, this one does not disappoint if you take it neat. It isn’t going to blow your head off with the spirit strength, and yet leaves you wanting more.

Was disappointed after I added the water and got the sulphur note. But that’s what happens from time to time. A bad cask somewhere in the mix can wreak havoc with a batch. This is why brands like Macallan can charge what they do, and it’s down to expert cask management.

Do yourself a favour. Don’t add water.

This bottle can be purchased at around £84 online from Master of Malt or The Whisky Exchange. Hunt about though, as I did see one for £74. Excellent value for a malt of this age.

Slainte Mhath!

One thought on “Taste Review #3 – Tomatin 18 y.o Oloroso cask

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