It’s Monday, vacation is over, September is already visible at the horizon, so back to “work”. Time to pick up again with a nice box of four Tomatin’s, the highland distillery known for it’s Whisky with tropical aroma’s…
In 2014 Tomatin released a box with four full-sized bottles called the “Cuatro Series”. All four Whiskies were distilled on Tuesday the 15th of January 2002. All four were matured for 9 years in American oak, however, all received a final maturation of three years in four casks that previously held different kinds of Sherry. An excellent way to show the adventurous public the differences between finishing with four different Sherries. A novel idea and the pricing was reasonable as well. Just releasing it as four full-sized bottles in one box made for slow sales. Who wants to buy four more or less similar bottles of Tomatin where the difference lies in the details? Learing from the experience, Tomatin released several similar ideas since, but always in half sized bottles. Nevertheless, the “Cuatro Series” did sell out eventually, although the odd single bottle seem to be still available.
The four Sherries used in this series are, Fino, Manzanilla, Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez. The first expression, as numbered by the distillery, is the Fino expression. Fino Sherries are very dry and very pale. What makes Fino stand out, is the fact that maturation in the cask happens under flor. Flor is a layer of the Saccharomyces yeast strain, that lies on top of the liquid. The layer of yeast prevents the ageing fortified wine from oxidizing too much, making for a fresher Sherry. In the Wine-world Sherries like this are considered the cream of the crop, as opposed to Scotland’s favorite, Oloroso.
Nose: Very musty on entry, which is not very pleasant. Luckily the mustiness dissipates rather quickly. So you really need a glass for this one. Underneath a nice note of olives, burning coal, some charcoal and lots of fruit. Yellow fruit, overripe or sometimes even candied. Some pineapple, mango and maybe even some nectarines. This nose is exploding with aroma. Dusty and creamy vanilla and nice soft oak, so the original cask did it’s work well. The Fino cask also seems to be of high quality, since it did impair some wonderful aroma’s to the Whisky. This one is wonderfully balanced and eventually smells rather nice. The fresh oak bit turns floral. More vanilla but this time with a touch of jasmine and, dare I say it, a hint of paracetamol. Wonderful nose for a 12yo. It has the tropical fruit traits Tomatin is known for. Reminds me a bit of a Fino Glenfarclas I once had.
Taste: Sweet and spicy. Beer-like hops, and again lots of fruits carried by the beer-like bitterness. Is it the yeast from the flor that does this? Again, like the nose, wonderfully balanced, but not as complex as the nose. Here the Fino impairs a nice nutty flavour as well as some italian laurel licorice (sweet). Creamy with a note of buttery vanilla. Strange enough there is an acidic top-note now. Finish has some length, with again some bitterness that carries it. And beyond that a nice lingering and fruity/nutty aftertaste. This may not turn out as the easiest of the four, but if you have mastered tasting Fino (finished) Whiskies, this is certainly no dud.
For those of you who also read my Rum-reviews, you’ll know, that I found Rhum Agricole to be wonderful stuff as long as you give yourself the time to grow into. More or less the same goes for finishing in Fino Sherry. There are examples of Whiskies with a Fino finish that work exceptionally well, but I also found Fino finishes, something I had to get used to.