If all whiskies have stories, which I believe to be true – then some whiskies have layers of story and memory attached. It either comes with a story or you feel compelled to make one up. For me, the Tomatin 15 Tempranillo is one of those whiskies full of story.
It starts with a long, slow dinner in the middle of winter when I was first introduced to Tempranillo wine. The conversation was sweet and easy in the manner of old friends gathered around a table. The wine was a buoyant but not overwhelming companion – fruity bursts of cherry and plum and earthy undertones of leather, tobacco and hints of clove.
Then, around 2013 I went to a Tomatin tasting and was introduced to this HIghland malt aged in Tempranillo. What the wood gives of itself to the whisky can never be underestimated – and in this instance, those Tempranillo casks have gladly given over their dry fruity flavours and the spice of clove. Whisky and wine, what’s not to love?
And it’s not easy to find, although not rare by some standards. They released 3150 bottles. I bought one in 2013 and this week I enjoyed some of what’s left of the stock at my local.
I bought the bottle for myself to celebrate a small personal victory.. A victory long since forgotten, but I remember the whisky and drinking it around the fire.
Malts like these feel so experimental, because you really don’t know what the wood or the time will give you – but in this instance… here’s my fond recollection of a little bit of magic produced in the bottle.
Nose: Cherry and plums big and present upfront before the sugar comes through .. candy, beeswax and white chocolate – that combination of sugar and vanilla. If you stretch, you’ll get some leather and oak floating around in the back.
Palate: What was promised on the nose delivers in the glass – those big fruit flavours round out into softer pears and apples. I’m reminded of apple pie because it’s so sweet still, candy, candy candy… until it starts to lift off the tongue with the tannins and dry out. The clove and white pepper starts to dance and draw out the finish.
Finish: The spice takes the long road out of town, leaving behind a soft, creamy and almost chewable ending.
This whisky is one you want to try if you love homemade apple crumble or just enjoy going on a journey. You’ll sit on it a while and be able to push it (at 52% abv, you’ll want to cut it with a few drops of water to bring it out) pretty far to get everything it’s got to show you.
Here’s hoping more of these interesting cask finishes make their way into our hands!