Welcome to Tomatin Month at iScotch. What? you say. Is this some kind of sponsorship jam? Nope! Just found this sampler at the liquor store in the Calgary airport and Dan & I rattled off three reviews and a BattleScotch in an evening. So here we go!
Up first we have the Tomatin Spanish Sherry 12y. It’s aged in bourbon and sherry barrels and is the main product of Tomatin Distillery. Here’s some wiki facts: located in (gasp) Tomatin, this distillery was the largest producer of whisky in Scotland in the 1970s. Like almost every established distillery in Scotland, Tomatin suffered through the usual business ups and downs, closing and reopening and changing hands over the years.
It says something about how long “brands” as a concept has been around, that entities from the mid 1800s will endure whole or in part over more than a century and carry loyalty across the generations. Like superheros dying, going out of business for these older scotch names seems largely temporary. Someone will always own the name, and other people will have positive associations with it. And someone will always want to leverage that. Relaunching a whisky can bring in offspring of people who liked it the first time around – having an affected link to granddad can actually feel meaningful at times. Hell, they straight up named a bourbon Old Grand Dad.
With these distilleries, of course, you have a concrete, long-term location to attach that loyalty to as well. In small scottish towns, the distillery is an important part of the economy, but it can also be (marketed as, anyway) a lynchpin of the local community. So your affection for a specific whisky that your granddad enjoyed is bolstered by the idea you’re helping keep some traditional way of life going. Maybe you are.
I shouldn’t point both barrels of cynical analysis at Tomatin, however. Their website is low-key and inoffensive, informative without bluster or over-description. Whatever post-secondary critique you want to throw at an industry, and you should, the individual companies should be judged at least somewhat on what they produce. Tomatin is definitely no slouch; this is top tier whisky. Here’s what we thought:
Dan – cider with rose
Simon – sherry, oily, thick legs
Dan – sweet, caramel, ginger, orange
Simon – sweet, grape, light fruits, sherry
Dan – spicy, slight cough syrup with sweet woodiness
Simon – bite, light, sharp and fresh, more sherry and spice
Dan – numb & short
Simon – sharp & short
Dan – like nose but more wood with little spice
Simon – holds together nicely
Dan – 8.5/10
Try it? Yes! Buy it? It’s a steal.