We had already come south of Inverness not far from the Monadhliah Montains to get to know the dangerous CU BOCAN, then to discover the METAL, but today it is to taste a classic: the TOMATIN 18 YEARS.
Let's put the distillery back in its "hole". Of course it is not far from civilization (barely 18 miles from Inverness) but the least we can say is that it is well lost in the middle of the hills. So lost that when it was at the height of its activity it had been created housing to be able to attract employees (as in Bunnahabain on Islay -NDLR-).
In fact the place discovered by BRAD PEAT is historic, because it is said that whisky has been made here, legally or illegally, since 1700! Just that and considering the size of the distillery it must have been produced a certain number of gallons ! At the peak of the production in the seventies, it was the biggest distillery in Scotland (no less than 23 stills !).
But why did they come to set up a distillery here at an altitude of 300 m ? According to the legend, it is because the Alt na Frith is one of the purest waters of the highlands, and especially because juniper trees grew here! And why junipers? Well, juniper is a wood that does not give off smoke when it burns (which was quite practical in 1700 when whisky (or what looked like it at the time) was illegal and the stills had to be heated! Everything overlaps since the Gaelic meaning of the name of the spring is "to burn for free" and that of "hill of juniper bush" is: TOMATIN (nothing to do with tomatoes then) !
So let's get back to our tasting. The TOMATIN 18 years old has been a reference since it was first offered and it has won gold awards EVERY year in all competitions since 2010. It must be good, right?
On the colour side, it is slightly amber due to a long stay (15 years) in oak barrels, followed by a 3 year finish in Oloroso sherry barrels.
When his scent enters my nose, I hear Audiard say: "Wouldn't there be any apples?". You almost smell like a calvados! Beautiful smells of ripe apples! Nevertheless I will see it well embellished by the raisin which would come to him added heat. It is at the second passage that the finish sherry makes its appearance with a more pronounced contribution of the raisin with a hint of vanilla. The third passage is more "agricultural" with an earthy smell mixed with spices.
It is in the mouth that this whisky really reveals itself. It was sweet and not too powerful on the nose, but when it enters the mouth it is to coat it completely and take all the free space. It is warm and round and positions all the sherry it has inside. All accompanied by notes of honey. It takes its place well and wants to reveal itself again. Also by keeping it, it becomes a little more bitter, bringing a slightly bitter taste of dark chocolate to the side of the mouth. Citrus fruits are found on the palate.
Once swallowed, it leaves its mark in the throat for a long time with a return of apple but also woody notes, but also on the palate which keeps the stigmas of the chocolate. And once it has left the glass, it leaves behind beautiful scents of caramel and raisins.
There is such a difference between the nose and the mouth that, having experienced it, it inspires respect and really surprises the taster, and I understand that it must have had the same effect on the competition jury.
I was right to come and get lost in the TOMATIN distillery with my BRAD PEAT here!