Review: Tomatin Legacy 88/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published on May 4, 2014
The Tomatin Distillery is located in the Monadhliath Mountains near Inverness, the capital of the Highlands of Scotland. The Distillery was established in 1897. (For those who do not know, the term “established in 1897” is a code term which represents an acknowledgement by the distillery that the company began to legally pay taxes on the spirits it produced in that year. When the Distillery actually began to produces spirits is not acknowledged.) Because of its location in the Monadhliath Mountains, Tomatin is one of the highest distilleries (elevation wise) in Scotland at 315 metres above sea level. In 1985 as the Distillery was expanded and was at that time renamed, The Tomatin Distillery Co Ltd.. The company now operates 12 stills, in a process which perhaps more closely resembles a large-scale industrial factory rather than a typical Single Malt Distillery. This is because the distillery has always been a large-scale producer of whisky for Scotland’s major blends. However, Tomatin has recently began to focus their efforts on also producing their own Single Malt Whisky as well as establishing their own brand identity.
The Tomatin Legacy is the companies introductory (some would say flagship) Single Malt, and is produced from a whisky aged in a combination of ex-Bourbon barrels and Virgin Oak casks. This Single Malt Whisky carries no age statement, as the whisky is blended to a specific taste profile rather than to be a specific age statement. The use of virgin oak to age some of the whisky is a rather novel idea for a Scottish producer, but one which I heartily endorse.
In the Bottle 4.5/5
The presentation of the Tomatin Legacy is first-rate. The single malt whisky is housed in a smart grey and black box with an attractive horizontal red band accenting the top of the box. The label is bold and professional utilizing a colour and font scheme which catches the eye and is easy to read. I love the added touch of tasting notes on the back label of the box and the back label of the bottle. I have always maintained that because of the large variance in style and flavour of Scottish Single Malt Whiskies, the customers have a right to know the expected flavour profile before they make their purchase decision.
In the Glass 8.5/10
The Whisky demonstrates a pale straw colour in the glass which is much lighter than I was expecting, especially since the producers have used whisky from virgin oak casks for part of its construction. (I wonder to myself if French oak imparts less colour on average than American oak). When I tilt my glass and twirl it, I see the whisky is relatively light bodied and leaves only a light whisky film on the inside of my glass. The crest of that light film releases a bunch of slender legs which run quickly back down into the whisky.
The initial nose is very pleasant with a combination of clean oak spice, almond accents and hints of green grapes and green apples. There is also a meringue-like sweetness which rises up into the air with a gentle sweep of vanilla around it. As the glass breathes the oak spices gains momentum and I soon also receive impressions of willow trees and aspen with a touch of piny goodness in the mix somewhere as well. I seem to also sense springtime aromas of fresh sweet grass, and some floral lemon blossoms.
I have the impression that although I would describe the nose as pleasant and mellow, that there is a great deal of subtlety and character within those mellow subtle nuances.
In the Glass 53/60
The Tomatin Legacy brings all those subtle nuances which I found on the nose forward through the palate. The whisky is light bodied; but it carries a very appealing fresh crispness across the palate. I taste clean oak spices, green apples and grapes, light citrus zests, delicate honeyed flavours of meringue and vanilla, and an even more delicate flavour of pine needle tea. The oak spices and the wisp of pine needles bring a light crisp bitterness into the whisky. This mild bitterness, rather than being a deterrent, actually works very well with the over-all flavour profile. I also taste a touch of poplar sap and willow bark, hints of green lemon grass, and a firm undercurrent of almond. No one attribute rises above the others, and I am quickly becoming a huge fan of this Tomatin Whisky. If I were to encounter a touch more depth and character, I would have brought the scores up into the stratosphere. Having said that, this is a very good single malt!
In the Throat 13/15
The exit is short and crisp with a nice spiciness which reaches up and grabs at the tonsils after the swallow. Echoes of green fruit, almond and vanilla linger for just a little while before being washed away in the rye-like oak spices during the finish. Some might want a longer exit; but there is a crisp freshness about this whisky which I find appealing.
The Afterburn 9/10
The Tomatin Legacy is a very good whisky. I suspect much of the appeal I am discovering is due to the company’s history and tradition of producing whisky for Scotland’s major Whisky blenders. Contrary to what is believed about blends, the major producers of Scottish Blended Whisky have traditionally sought out consistent strong producers of quality whisky for their blends. The world is discovering that some of those producers have been making outstanding Single Malts for years which have gone unnoticed because rather than being bottled as such, they instead serve as the heart of a popular blended whisky. Another reason for the quality which I taste is almost certainly the use of virgin oak casks in the aging regimen for some of the whisky in this Single Malt. Fresh new oak makes a difference, and I believe I am tasting that difference in this Malt.
You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
2 oz Tomatin Whiskey
1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
3/8 oz Sugar Syrup
1/8 oz Orange Curacao
dash Angostura Bitters
Spiral Orange Peel
Optional splash of Soda or Ginger Beer
Rim a cocktail glass with a wedge of fruit
Powder the rim of the glass with fine sugar
(Try to do better than I did with the sugar rim)
Place a Spiral Orange Peel in the bottom of the glass to form a cup
Place the first 5 ingredients in a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain onto the spiral lime peel in the cocktail glass
If desired, complete with a splash of Q-Ginger
Add a lump of ice in the center of the lime spiral
And please remember…the aim is not to drink more…it is to drink better!
As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)