By Kurt Maitland
Tomatin Distillery is from the Highland Region, drawing its name from its host town, located 16 miles south of Inverness.
While It is thought that distilling has gone on in the area since the 16th Century, the Tomatin Distillery was not formally established until 1897. The original company went bankrupt in 1906, and was reopened under new ownership in 1909. After the liquidation of its owners in 1986, it was taken over by the Japanese conglomerate Takara Shuzo and renamed Tomatin Distillery Co Ltd. In fact, this created the first fully Japanese-owned Scottish distillery, as it occurred before Suntory’s later purchases of distilleries such as Bowmore.
The distillery initially operated with only two stills until 1958. From then on, they began to add stills to increase production capacity, eventually reaching a peak of production of 23 stills and twelve million liters of whisky per year during the 1970s, making it Scotland’s chief producer at that time.
As late as 1987, Tomatin was often referred to as the largest malt distillery in Scotland. However, some of the stills were dismantled after the mid-1980s, and these cut-backs have reduced their total capacity to just roughly 5 million liters.
Most of the distillery’s production (estimated to be as high as 80% of the total) goes into blends such as Antiquary and Talisman. Recently, the distillery has been making an effort to showcase their abilities as a producer of single malts and has been actively expanding its core range and releases, including this one, the Tomatin Highland Manzanilla Finish Single Malt.
First, a word about Manzanilla, which is a variety of sherry. “Manzanilla” is a term for chamomile tea in Spanish, and this particular type of dry sherry gets its name for being reminiscent of chamomile. The Tomatin Highland Manzanilla Finish is bottleed at 46% abv.
Color: Pale Gold
Nose: Vanilla and rum raisin, with a bit of sweet cereal toward the end.
Taste: This is quite a tasty dram, and whiskies like this remind me why I’m so fond of Scotch. It’s well-balanced, with a really nice mix of fruits (meaty ones like mango and melons) and pepper. The texture is slightly oily at the start then turning a bit crisp. Water makes it a bit sweeter but also rolls back the spice of the finish as well.
Finish: Peppery with hints of citrus
Because they don’t have to use a newly charred oak barrel as we do in bourbon, there are so many different subtle flavors that can be hidden away in a release like this. I didn’t know what to expect but I’m more than happy with what I got. This is a brilliant release, but unfortunately it is a limited release and a run of 2,000 bottles can go really quickly. In fact, I’m already planning a return trip to the liquor store to get more, so you might want to do the same.
The price on this release ranges between $56 to $75 dollars, although you might find it for less if you shop around. I highly recommend adding this release to your home collection.