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KCM Spirit Reviews

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Review 195: Tomatin 15 Year

Review 195
Tomatin 15 Year: 43% abv

Background: So yesterday, we reviewed the 12 Year old Tomatin. We first started speaking positively about the way Tomatin is bottling their whiskies, and ended on a strongly negative note about the whisky itself. It should be said although certain whiskies are bad, that does not mean we are against the company. That being said, even if we support a company from a theoretical standpoint, that doesn’t mean we will create artificial praise for it. This 15 Year, bottled at the same proof, is similar to the 12 Year. That being said, it is aged in “Traditional” Scotch whisky casks, which I can only assume means bourbon refill casks. We hope to get better results out of this whisky than we did the 12 Year.


Nose: Immediately, the same raw barley smell comes out of the nose as in the 12 Year. Fortunately, this doesn’t over-dominate the nose. As the whisky opens up, a nice blend of fresh citrus and floral notes are in the aroma. There is also some vanilla-dominant notes, and some crisp malt that is more akin to an anCnoc or Glengoyne than anything else. This is, in my opinion, a better aroma than the raw barley smell. This is definitely still Tomatin though, with a nose containing fresh green apple and lemon zest. A more seasoned oak flavor comes out here, which is promising. There is a slightly Champagne-like smell, with soft herbal and green notes layering into the nose. Overall, it seems like an improvement over the 12 Year.

Arrival: Fresh spiciness greets the arrival. There is still a definite sense of raw grain, and that comes out more in the body. Even still, there is more maturity, more balance, and more spiciness here than in the 12. Slight notes of honey and vanilla come through in the arrival.

Body: The body of this whisky takes on the bulk of the raw grain flavor, while still showing off some amount of spiciness and citrus. This is still the weakest part of the whisky, but at least it gives off a little bit of oakiness.

Finish: The finish is very similar to a softer Glenlivet. I am not a fan of Glenlivet, but there is a fantastic fruit-like freshness in the finish, blending green grapes, green apples, succulent citrus, and some soft herbal notes to get a similar effect without the overbearing sense of artificial fruit sweetness. There is some black pepper and nutmeg in the finish. An intense greenness still shows a prominence as the rest of the flavors mellow out in this whisky. Cloves are a dominant part of the finish. 

Final Comments: This is definitely a step up from the 12 Year. This could be possibly explained by the choice of cask. Tomatin still has a distinctive taste, as we are beginning to understand, that doesn’t really appeal to us. Although we have yet to try the 18 Year, the 12 and 15 lack the same complexity as other whiskies in their price ranges. The quality of casks still appears to be the obvious answer here. All of this being said, the 15 Year is light years ahead of the 12.

Why you’d buy it: There still really isn’t an obvious reason. Brand loyalty maybe?

Why you wouldn’t: Between Glenlivet (never thought I’d say that), Glengoyne, and anCnoc, this doesn’t offer anything better.

Score: 6.25/10

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