Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Review - Tomatin 1971

This whisky is the first release of the new luxury Warehouse 6 Collection from Tomatin. The collection will feature a series of rare single casks from the maturing stock with the first being distilled in August 1971 and bottled in May 2016. The 44 years old has been matured in a single ex-Oloroso sherry hogshead cask, which has yielded just 252 bottles. The whisky is presented in a bespoke hand-blown crystal decanter made by Glencairn Crystal and sits in a varnished wooden plinth with gold metal trim alongside two crystal tumblers.

"We have spent decades perfecting this delicate spirit that reflects our dedication to producing whisky of exceptional quality."
Stephen Bremner - Sales Director at Tomatin.

The Tomatin distillery is located in the Highlands of Scotland, about half way between Aviemore and Inverness.  It was founded in 1897 by a group of Inverness businessmen and was called Tomatin Spey.  It only became Tomatin, the name of the local village, in 1907 and has kept that name ever since.  Tomatin is currently owned by the Takara Shuzo Corporation, who purchased the distillery in 1986 after the previous ownership had been liquidated.

Tomatin is a large distillery with a current annual capacity of five million litres.  Historically most of this has been produced for the blending market but in recent years Takara Shuzo have invested heavily in introducing and expanding a single malt range.  This includes a number of Tomatin expressions plus the Cù Bòcan, a peaty version of Tomatin that is produced for just one week every year.

The Tomatin 1971 is bottled at the natural cask strength of 45.8% ABV and was launched in late June at a special event in London, which we attended.  It will be available in selected specialist whisky retailers worldwide and will cost £2,500 a bottle.

Our tasting notes
The colour is deep amber and the nose is packed with complex sweet and savoury aromas.  Immediately there are aromas of caramel and old leather, followed by sweet toffee and coffee beans.  Then come succulent dried fruits (think of raisins, sultanas and mango) plus hints of chocolate, marzipan and some background earthy ginger.

On the palate this whisky feels incredibly luxurious and velvety.  It is soft and gentle but very expressive.  There is an initial delicious mix of tropical fruit notes and deep earthy wood spices.  These manifest themselves as dried pineapple and mango, caramelised banana, raisins, sultanas and a heady mix of clove, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Underneath is extra sweetness in the form of toffee and butterscotch, along with some milk chocolate and milky coffee.  There is also a distinct damp and earthy element, plus a hint of walnut and almond.

The finish is long and lingering.  The sweet and fruity notes slowly fade, while the earthy wood spices and late nutty characteristics hang around the longest.  This gives the finish a lovely drying quality.

What's the verdict?
The Tomatin 1971 is a very classy whisky and is one of the better old whiskies that we have sampled.  They can often be over woody and complicated but this has a good level of spiciness, sweetness and fruitiness.  These are all well balanced and create a fine palate.

The rarity of this whisky makes us wonder whether people will buy this to drink, collect or for investment but it will be interesting to see what the further releases in the Warehouse 6 Collection will offer.  We are delighted to have been able to sample it - it was delicious.

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