The day after the quick visits to Balblair etc. was dedicated to a more extensive visit to Tomatin, mostly because of what their tour had to offer. My five friends all went for the basic tour (which came with a tasting of the Legacy, Cu Bocan and 12 year-old), but I went for the more detailed 2.5 hour one, which finished with some single casks instead.
As it happened I was the only one taking the extensive tour, so we were able to tailor it more - less time on the process, more time in the warehouses and the tasting. The only slight disappointment was that the guide was relatively new, and while he certainly did his job well he didn't have the experience to be able to answer some of my more geeky questions! Not to worry, I was there for the single casks and they didn't disappoint. Also tried some new make, which was a bit less fruity than Balblair's but still along the same lines. The single casks were:
2013 Virgin Oak
2006 First Fill Bourbon
2006 First Fill Oloroso
2002 Pedro Ximenez finish (more of a double maturation as it spent its last 4 years in PX)
1990 First Fill Bourbon
Where to start - well, the Virgin Oak was pretty good. Lively and spicy but without being over-oaked, which is what I was afraid might happen. Seems like Tomatin have a lot of virgin oak casks about these days as they use them in both the Legacy and the Cu Bocan. A good benchmark as an aperitif then. The 2006 bourbon was excellent - light, floral, and very drinkable even at cask strength. Overall I preferred it to the 2006 sherry, which was also good but with a whiff of struck matches and slightly rougher. However, the sherry one improved a lot with water - opened up very well and showed that the spirit wasn't overpowered by the Oloroso wood.
The 2002 PX was less to my taste - a touch too cloying overall. The 1990 bourbon was clearly the star of the show. I was very surprised that it was first fill as it was quite restrained, spirit-driven and elegant - I've had other old single casks that tasted a lot more of old wood juice, basically!
I also had samples from some of their core range - the guide was very keen on the Cu Bocan and though I liked it, I didn't think it was anything particularly special. Oh, and if anyone is interested, it is 9 years old even though it doesn't say anywhere. The 14 year-old port finish was very good, as was the 18 year-old, which is my pick of their core range.
I did end up taking a bottle home - my preference would've been the 28 year-old bourbon one but at £270 it was beyond my budget, even though ironically it's a decent price these days for a single cask of that age. So I bottled some of the 2006 Oloroso - even though on average I liked it a bit less than its bourbon sibling, the latter was too similar to the Balblair I had already got, so I opted for maximum diversity.
Last edited by Alexppp on Wed Jul 25, 2018 1:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
There is always a chance when visiting distilleries in the peak of the summer tourist season that you will get a seasonal worker as a guide, they are usually quite gen'd up with the production process basics but cant help you with more in-depth questions. Not to worry as it sounds like it worked in your favour, giving you more time with the single casks.
Sounds like a great visit.. Tomatin whisky is rather good these days, and that Virgin oak is rather tasty indeed.. had to get a bottle or two myself 👍
In hindsight I underrated that Virgin oak single cask - maybe I should've bottled that instead, I just would've felt a bit weird paying all that money for a 5 year-old whisky, even if the cask cost them more money than a bourbon one.
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