Following my adventures with the 12, Cu Bocan and their four Cuatro releases, I decided that rather than mess around with a collection of samples, I would buy a full bottle of Tomatin.
And, seeing as their 18-year-old is a great price for a whisky of that age, I had no hesitation in parting with my cash. I found this challenging - something I didn't expect. Why? Read on, malt heads.
On the nose there were bright citrus notes accompanied by what can only be described as old oak slathered in salted caramel. Fresh spearmint comes through after a while in the glass, followed by honey, vanilla and a dribble of honey. The whisky also has a floral character which intensified with a drop or two of water. But that heavy wood note really does dominate and it's this that I struggled to get my head around.
Taking a sip, that heavy oak note continued. But rather than being sweet on the tongue, I found it to be quite savoury in character, although citrus notes push through with a little water. It was as if orange, lemon and grapefruit had been dipped in floral honey. It also carried a zinging spicy note, with lots of cinnamon, grated nutmeg and black peppercorns.
The finish was extremely woody and warming, with more vanilla hints joined by lemon mousse, more cinnamon and green peppercorns. There was also a distinctive sour note which played right the way through but it actually worked quite well with the winter spices.
I'm still really on the fence with the Tomatin 18. The wood character was just too much for me and I wonder if that's the 18's defining characteristic - or whether my bottle was part of a not-so-sparkling cask. I plan on trying a dram in the pub to see how it compares, though. With that said, I found it an interesting experience and it did have its moments with those lovely citrus and floral notes.