Scotch Whisky Review #417: Tomatin Distillery Handfill 8 Year Virgin Oak (2014)
Age: 8 Year. Distilled on May 9th, 2014. Bottled on August 24th, 2022.
ABV: 60.4%. Cask Strength.
Cask Type: Virgin Oak.
Cask Number: 2974.
Color: 1.5, Auburn/Polished Mahogany. Natural Color and Non-Chill Filtered.
Nose: The nose is very oak heavy, you can outright smell the charred wood. There’s an almost meat note that I can’t quite place, it’s reminiscent of grilled meats but it clearly isn’t that. There’s a nice spice note in the form of nutmeg. Just smelling this made my mouth dry.
Palate: At full strength, it is quite strong (as expected). Notes of vanilla and oak are all I could pick out at full bore, it is quite hot and ethanol-y. A great deal of water is needed to calm this down but thankfully it does get there. Once you’ve gotten it calmed down, the vanilla and oak notes are still there but they take back seat to some intense fruit jam flavors. Berry jam is the main one; its a blueberry jam mixed with an assortment of red berries. Following the berry jam comes a very rich, salted caramel to wrap things up.
Finish: Medium to short in length with gets a touch longer when it’s watered down but not by a lot. The jam notes show up again with some oak and mixed nuts. The very last note is one that reminds me of marshmallows quite a bit.
Conclusion: A few weeks ago, the wife and I made our way through the Highlands on our long postponed Scottish getaway. Tomatin is one of 10 distilleries we stopped at, most of which were just to pop into the store and take some pictures (I’ll get around to writing up a full trip summary for the blog before too long). Given that this cask is the closest I’ve ever come to a birth date bottling, I had to grab a bottle regardless of whatever it might be. Virgin Oak is certainly polarizing but this Tomatin seems to walk the very fine line of being too bourbon-like and possibly coming off as over-oaked fairly well. The ABV and youth suggests you’re going to get a hot one, which you do, but with enough water it does give way to some delicious berry jam and caramel notes. If you enjoy bourbon and Scotch, this would probably be right up your alley.
Final Score: 81.
Note: I’ve made some changes to the scoring legend, the descriptions have been updated slightly to match my actual scoring a little better.
Scotch Whisky Review #417, Highland Review #81, Whisky Network Review #571
- 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
- 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky and I will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection if feasible.
- 85-89: Very good to amazing, almost the complete product and I’m likely wanting a bottle or two.
- 80-84: Quite good, pleasant overall though there is usually a few things that could be improved still.
- 75-79: Good, enjoyable to drink but ultimately flawed.
- 70-74: Alright, solid and wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
- 60-69: Meh, still drinkable.
- Below 59: If you have a bottle of this, start cooking with it instead.