On Saturday, February 28, 2015, I sat down with ten gentlemen to taste six whiskies from the Tomatin distillery. This was the first time one of my tastings has featured a lineup from a single distillery and it gave the group a chance to explore the similarities – and, in some cases, stark contrasts – within a whisky family.
The challenge I put in front of myself for this tasting was to choose a distillery that offered a variety of whiskies that differed in finish and not just age. Glendronach was where I was leaning until I discovered Tomatin had released the Cuatro series: four 12 year-old whiskies finished in different barrels. Having had the Legacy and 15 year-old previously, the Tomatin distillery became an easy choice.
We followed the numbering of the Cuatro series and then moved up in age. Here are some of my impressions as we went along:
- Cuatro Series #1: Fino – Our starter was fuller bodied than expected based on its light appearance. It was a little harsh and an average whisky. Nothing I’d go out of my way to find.
- Cuatro Series #2: Manzanilla – This one was spicy and salty with an undertone of smoke that made it thoroughly enjoyable. It was my top pick of the series and I’d buy it again.
- Cuatro Series #3: Oloroso – A sweet taste to the point of acidic, it brought with it hints of spice and pepper. The weirdest aspect of this whisky is that it has an almost rubber inner-tube taste on the finish.
- Cuatro Series #4: Pedro Ximenez – The last in the series was also sweet and sat a little sharp on the tongue. It finished quick with a dry sherry taste. Better than the Oloroso but still not as good as the Manzanilla.
- 14 Year-Old Port – This one was amazing! The nose had a nice sweetness to it that mingled with scents of dark fruits. It’s taste followed the fruit and brought in a nutty aspect. It was number five of the night but number one in my heart.
- 15 Year-Old Bourbon Tempranillo – The nose was dark plums and spice which you’d think you’d also find in the taste. Yes, spice continued into the taste but the palate started oily and finished creamy. Given the other whiskies of the night, this was wholly disappointing and, strangely, it’s similar to the tasting I did in 2014 of Tomatin’s 15 year-old.
- 14 Year-Old Port
- Pedro Ximenez
- 15 Year-Old Bourbon Tempranillo
All told it was a great night with great company. And, as we always do at the end of the night, we raffled off what remained of the bottles and six lucky guys went home with a half bottle of scotch each.