Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Review: Tomatin 12

Tomatin 12
Price:  $30
Strength:  40%

I always have an eye out for something new, a name I'm not familiar with.  Unknown malts can range from frankly terrible to surprisingly decent, but I doubt much I'm ever going to find that dream of an unknown malt that is amazing in taste and texture, yet only costs $25.  Still and all, I've had several nice surprises:  Gordon and MacPhail's Tamdhu 8, Speyburn 10, and Singleton 12 were all unknown bottles that I found on the cheap and thought were all on the good side of decent.

Today's review, Tomatin 12, is another.  I found the Tomatin for about $30, quite a bargain for a 12 year old malt.  I had no expectations.  I'd never even heard the name, let alone even know how to pronounce it.  The label helpfully informs me that it's pronounced "To-MA-tin," to rhyme with "satin."  Some research identifies Tomatin as a Speyside that was once the largest distillery in Scotland, though Glenfiddich may have surpassed Tomatin these days.  The overall size and volume is reflective of Tomatin's heavy use in several different blends.  The distillery owners only recently began bottling as a single malt.

I can see why the Tomatin features so heavily in blends; it's a quite pleasant Speyside, but not exactly unique or assertive...perfect for the base of a blended Scotch.  As with many Speysides, caramel and toffee predominates, but I also get very nice fruit notes of apple and pear.  Royal Mile Whiskies reports aging in American bourbon casks and Spanish sherry butts.  I'm impressed by the judicious and restrained use of sherry wood; the influence is subtle, and brings crisper, less raisiny flavors than more extreme sherry aging.  The texture on the tongue is clean and smooth, and the caramel and fruit notes mingle throughout a decent finish, leaving a lingering reminder of candy apples.

I imagine that the wonderful deal I found on this bottle was probably a marketing move, an introduction to the market of Tomatin as a single malt.  That's a shame, since this was quite a bargain, and though I liked this malt quite a bit, were the price tag to go up, I would probably drop my $45 -50 on a more assertive or unique dram.  80 points (B-)

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  1. When I vacationed in Edinburgh, we went to a whisky shop to get Scotch, and I had no idea what to get. I selected the least expensive bottle that looked nice and had an age statement: Tomatin 12. I don't remember any of the tasting notes.

  2. Heh, nice!

    I do think the Tomatin makes a great, safe introduction to single malts for a beginner, particularly if the price stays down. I mean, my first dram was one Bowmore, and I think it took about four more years before I really started liking Scotch.

    Didn't you also bring back something rather rare from your vacation there?

  3. Yes, a bottle from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, called "Burnt Toffee and Cooked Tablet". It was a big wine-like, spicy dram that I nursed for four years or so and finally killed off a couple of months ago. The wine cask had such a strong impact that two or three drinks a year from the bottle was enough. I suspect the cask was aged in something like Marsala.

  4. I just bought a bottle today. I paid $27 out the door. Not a bad single malt. Decent nose. Limited depth on the pallet. Peppery finish is medium in length and softened by the addition of some water. I wouldn't pay more for this one than I did. I've got too many great single malts that stand alone so I'll probably use this one as a mixer.

  5. I've been drinking this particular malt for several years. The price has always been far below other 12 year old single malts. I don't think a marketing ploy would last in excess of three years.

  6. i have never tried this one, really liked it, i have tried many, and there have been many that were way overpriced, i think this is excellent and after having many 70-100 dollar bottles this is worth every penny, if you poured this into a decanter, i doubt most would notice its only a 12, my friends who are single malt snobs,all really liked it ,,until i told them what i paid,, then they started saying oh they could tell it wasnt a 15 or better, uh huh,, yeah right, excellent with high notes of vanilla and sweet aftertaste of pears.