The Dramble took a look at the Tomatin Core Range, as well as interviewed the distillery’s General Manager Graham Eunson at the end of last November. Little did we know, that at the exact same time, Royal Mile Whiskies were bottling up their own Tomatin – in the form of a single sherry cask – for release the week after our distillery feature and tasting notes. A chance trip into London resulted in a visit to the RMW store (close to Tottenham Court Road tube station) and a new Tomatin to add to our liquid library. We’ve not seen anything written about this store exclusive release as yet, so, snowed in last week, we thought we’d get our chops into it.
This RMW single cask Tomatin was distilled in 2006 and bottled 11 years later at the end of 2017. Drawn from first fill sherry cask #2843 which yielded 598 bottles, it has been bottled at 58.3% ABV.
Nose: Dark sweet and richly sherried. Masses of toffee, butterscotch and treacle come together with stewed berries (particularly raspberries), plums and damsons for a darkly sweet opening. Deeper aromas of leather, hazelnuts and chocolates provide ample support. There’s some underlying meatiness and vegetation here – herbed sausages with fresh golden tobaccos. The addition of water brings out the sherry influence much more overtly, adding cake and raisins, as well as revealing some natural earthiness – moist soils and forest leaves.
Taste: Full, viscous and oily on arrival, this is nowhere near as sweet as the nose would suggest. A wave of sour lemons and wood combine with bitter berries and spices (ginger, anise and pepper). Over reduced cinder toffee, burnt caramel and dark chocolate are joined by balsamic vinegar, leather and nuttiness. There’s some struck match here, not a lot, but perceptible. A dash of water greatly improves this whisky, reducing the bitterness and allowing meat and vegetation to shine once again – beef stock and greenhouse produce – tomatoes and asparagus.
Finish: Long, quite drying and packed full of bitter fruit and dusty spices. Water transforms the finish, reducing it in length slightly, but smoothing over much of the astringency.
This 11 year old single cask Tomatin is quite stimulating, though to my palate, not the complete experience until a little water is added. Without dilution, the sherry cask runs riot here, and whilst fruity, dark and deep with sherry, bitterness levels are strikingly high. A few drops of water tempers this quite successfully and reveals this whiskies best characteristics – its underlying meaty, vegetal and earthy aromas and flavours. It’s a shame that one has to dig for these – but digging is nevertheless worthwhile – once you get beyond the sherry bomb characteristics of this whisky, there are buried complexities here that are well worth spending some time with. Still available from Royal Mile Whiskies for the sum of £69.99.