One of the largest Scotch distilleries in Speyside or even the surrounding Highlands, Tomatin was the first Scottish distillery to come under Japanese control. Although the distillery’s capacity is immense at 12 million liters per year, most of the products are used in blends. However, both official and independent bottlings exist. The Tomatin 12 Year is the entry level Tomatin whisky, for people who just want to experience the distillery for the first time.
In this case, ‘entry level’ does not mean haphazardly made. The Tomatin 12 has obviously benefited from good treatment and a thought-out process. It has a polish that is beyond its years and a mellowness that will make it a favorite even among lovers of more expensive Speyside Scotch. It is lightly peated, a little malty, and finished in sherry butts for a more complex flavor.
Overall, the Tomatin 12 is easy to drink, with mellow complexity and a well-rounded range of flavors. Another reviewer called it a Poor Man’s Highland Park, although to be honest it is only a few dollars cheaper than the Highland Park 12. However, I think it is worth a taste. When you consider the cost, the whisky is downright excellent. It is mature beyond its years and an enjoyable overall experience. It has the richness and caramel flavors that I expect from a Speyside malt, but with a fruity gentleness that is surprising.
Nose: 21/25. Flowers and fruit overwhelm the nose a little, with a distinctive rose flavor and even some berry. There is also an evergreen note along with some malty undertones. With a little time exposed to air, the nose becomes more perfumed and gains complexity.
Palate: 20/25. The palate is surprising because it relates very little to the elements in the nose. There is a rich honey taste with a hint of dry nut. Spices come out in the middle, followed by a light herbal smoke. It has a watery body at first that is even lightly oily, but the Tomatin 12 becomes fuller within seconds. The sherry is not overwhelming at all, really more of a hint. The peat is present, but very light and heathery. An unpleasant undertone, possibly rubber, hides in the background but is definitely perceptible.
Finish: 19/25. The finish is not mind-blowing, but it has caramel flavors with a hint of berry that echoes the nose. There is a slight tingle and not a lot of heat or burn. The palate is so complex that I was a little surprised by this rather simple finish.
Character: 21/25. This is a classic Speyside malt with a few surprises. It is well-rounded and subtle enough to be a worthwhile drink, but not so complicated that it requires a lot of thought. The Tomatin 12 may not be the most complex or mature whisky on the market, but it is excellent for its age and its price range. Moreover, the lack of unpleasant flavors makes it an excellent entry-level Scotch for those who want to experience Speyside without spending a bundle.
Overall Rating For Tomatin 12 Year Old Whisky: 81/100.