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Tomatin 12 Year Old (Single Malt)

Review: Tomatin 12 Year Old (Single Malt)   85.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published on May 29, 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 12 Year Old (Single Malt) is matured in what the company calls ‘traditional’ oak casks. However for the last 6 to 9 months of its aging life the whisky is moved to Oloroso Sherry Casks.

tomatin12In the Bottle 4.5/5

The presentation of the Tomatin 12 Year Old is first-rate. The single malt whisky is housed in a smart  black box with an attractive horizontal red band accenting the top of the box and a thin horizontal white/silver line above the age statement. The box and label use a colour and font scheme which are clear and 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 shows itself as an amber coloured spirit with its hues reflecting a light coppery tone when held up to the light. When I tilt my glencairn glass and give it a slow twirl, I see that the crest of the whisky film in my glass holds firm for about five seconds before it releases small(ish) drooplets which run slowly back down into the whisky.

When I bring the glass to my nose, the initial aroma reflects the scents of the Oloroso sherry barrel with accents of raisin and green grapes combining with scents of oak spice and evergreen forest. As the glass sits, I receive impressions of mossy tree trunks and green spruce boughs. There is fresh fruit to be found with smells of green apple and almost ripe pears meandering within adding themselves to the green grape and raisin scents I found earlier. There is perhaps a hint of smokiness as well as a welling up of underlying baking spices.

As the glass continues to breathe, the oak, the spices, and the underlying fruitiness all seem to converge implying good balance in a dram which is very pleasant to nose.

In the Mouth 51/60

The delivery shows more wood and baking spice than the nose implied with pleasant flavours of oak sap combining with vanilla, cinnamon and hints of clove. The sherried fruit is obvious as well demonstrated by flavours of green grape accented by raisins and figs. Although the whisky is sherried, the Oloroso influence comes across as a firm flavour accent rather than as a sherry bomb. Underlying flavours of willow, hints of peat, almond and canned peaches and pears all bob up and down in the flavour stream placing their gentle spin upon the whisky as well. A light bitterness from the oak seems complimented by the sweet fruitiness, and I find the whisky pleasant to sip with good structure and balance.

In the Throat 13/15

The finish is medium long featuring a rush of spice followed by the pleasant a lingering sweetness of sherried fruit. A touch of bitterness puckers the mouth and dries the throat which brings about the impulse to take another sip.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

Pleasant is a very good way of summing up the the Tomatin 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky. All of the flavours within the dram play well with each other, and in particular I appreciated how the sherry influence was just that, an influence rather than the main attraction. Sometimes I find Sherried whiskies taste more like Whiskied sherries if you know what I mean. Within this particular single malt whisky, the sherry keeps its place as a firm accent upon the flavour which allows the other whisky flavours within to express themselves as well.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe

Here is a classic cocktail which is said to have been named after the 1922 film Bullfighter which starred Rudolf Valentino. It is usually made with common orange juice, but using the juice of the blood orange adds a certain flair to the cocktail.

SAM_1022 Blood and Sand

Blood and Sand

3/4 oz Tomatin 12 Year Old (Single Malt)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (I used Croft Pink Port Wine)
3/4 oz Cherry Heering (sub cherry brandy)
3/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Blood Orange Juice
Orange Zest
Brandied Cherry

Add the first four ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with flamed orange zest and a brandied cherry

And please remember…the aim is not to drink more…it is to drink better!

Note: If  you are interested in more cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more mixed drink recipes!


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)



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