...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Things I Really Drink: Tomatin Decades, first edition

Yes, I reviewed this in June 2014, but that was a purchased sample. I adored that pour so much I bought a bottle two weeks later for $85 (the second edition was triple that price). Seven-and-a-half years passed before I opened the thing.

Sorry for the weird chiaroscuro style.
The bottle is about to be seduced by
a femme fatale.

On Monday, I dished out all sorts of numbers regarding the Tomatin Contrast bottles. That won't happen this time because the distillery didn't list the number of each of these casks, with one exception:

One refill sherry hogshead, distilled May 17, 1967 (~44 years old)
Oloroso sherry butts, distilled December 7, 1976 (~34 years old)
Refill sherry hogsheads, distilled June 21, 1984 (~27 years old)
First Fill Bourbon Barrels, distilled September 24, 1990 (~20 years old)
First Fill Bourbon Barrels of peated spirit, December 7, 2005 (~5 years old)

The older stuff is sherried and the newer stuff is bourboned, but because the cask count is unlisted it's difficult to gauge the majority of the mix. I will proffer that very, very little of the 5 year old peated element appears in the nose and palate. My guess that much/most of the content is from the 1990 barrels, with some low ABV whisky coming from the older sherry casks.

So, sorry everyone! Less math this time. But more drinking.

Ownership: Tomatin Distillery Co. (Takara Shuzo Co. Ltd., Kokubu & Co., The Marubeni Corp.)
Region: Highlands
Maturation and Age: See above
Bottled: 2011
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Outturn: 9000 bottles (70cL and 75cL)
Chillfiltered? No
e150a? No
(from the bottom half of my bottle)


Sooooo much fruit on the nose. Apples, yellow plums, yellow peaches, lemons, grapefruits. Some toffee and ocean notes. A warm peach cobbler note arrives after 45 minutes. With the whisky reduced to 40%abv, the nose simplifies, as it's all pears, green apples, peaches, and vanilla.

Loads of citrus (tart and sweet) meet a dry toastiness in the palate. The tartness and sweetness balance very well throughout. And then the papaya juice appears, followed by apricots and cilantro. A touch of herbal bitterness stays in the background. At 40%abv, the mouthfeel thickens but the palate narrows. Apples, pears, and tart stone fruit meet a louder bitterness.

Peaches, lemons, apples, toasted oak, and a bright bitterness merge well in the finish. A gentle smokiness stays on the tongue after the fruits depart. At 40%abv, it finishes sweet, tangy, and slightly oaky.


The Tomatin Contrasts did serve as Taste Off partners here, but they could not compete. Decade's fruitiness commands attention, especially from a drinker who's always on the lookout for fruity single malts. Aside from the papaya and heavier toasted oak notes, the whisky drinks like a 18-22 year old thing (which is why I mentioned the 1990 casks above), and that touch of smoke in the finish works pretty well. 

My 91-point grade back in 2014 was a bit enthusiastic. Decades's simplicity, while very charming, also feels limited, like it could have used a boost of (more) older stuff to lift it into all-timer status. It's still great, great whisky, and I'd certainly buy another bottle (pending price). If, like me, you adore fruity Highland malt, I doubt you'd mind a pour of Tomatin Decades.

Availability -
Secondary market

Pricing - not as lovely as it once was
Rating - 88

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