Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The last of My Tomatin discoveries for 2014...

Happy Birthday to me! I turned 48 last month. The day itseld was the usual BUT I am probably one of the few people I know that embraces ageing. Men, especially, will say 29 again? My answer is always the same: 29!? Hell I look like shit for 29 but I look fabulous for 48. Ahhhh but we digress, don't we? This is not about age... :0

The tradition has been for quite some time that my father in law gives me a bottle of whisky for my bd which he started doing in 2005 with Talisker 18. I was in love! This became "my birthday" bottle every year. In 2007 I visited the distillery and brought home some really nice whiskies from there. They were the first distillery that I bought several of their bottlings from, hence a "collection" so to speak. But then by 2011 I noticed some of the later releases, not even my beloved birthday bottle, tasted the same until finally I wasn't even able to recognize any Taliskers when I was given the sample blind. Something had changed. Was it my palate or the whiskies or a combination of both? Needless to say my "go to" whisky seemed to have gotten up and went somewhere else. :( 

In 2013 while at a whisky show in Victoria BC I attended a Tomatin Master Class and for me it was the a-ha moment. Not only did I enjoy the whiskies we tried but I was thoroughly impressed by the fact they had reserved one of the whiskies as a "guinea pig" whisky that not even people in Scotland had yet tried. So what, you think, what's the big deal Lassie? 

Well for those of us who are from this country and enjoy whisky as much as I do there's a feeling that sometimes the Canadian market seems like the second cousin twice removed. We either get the hand me downs (stuff that was released everywhere else like 3 years ago) or we don't get any of the Europe/UK releases at all. Tomatin whiskies were my biggest discovery of 2013 and so this week my Tomatin blogs culminate with the review of the North American Exclusive release of their 12 year old French Oak. It was fitting to open this, celebrate surviving my 47th year and looking forward to what comes next for this adventurous and wonderful Lassie. 

Tomatin 12 Year Old French Oak - North American Exclusive Release, 46% ABV non-chill filitered and natural color

Nose: Fresh fruit salad, tropical with pineapple, mango and fresh pears. Very fruity and inviting.

Palate: The fruit is there again, lush cherries followed by lingering Seville oranges. Nice, oily mouthfeel.

Finish: Long, fruity with just a hint of bitterness in the back. Quite enjoyable.

Although the house style is still detectable I love the extreme fruit quality of this whisky from start to finish. It's quite nicely balanced and delivers a satisfying dram. 

I look forward to sharing with as many friends as possible. This is only available to the North American market.  Alberta Canada for $67 at Wine & Beyond as well as some outlets in the USA for as low as $45.

So, what have I come to love about Tomatin? I think you can clearly see I love their house style. But... there is something else I really like that I think I should share. I personally feel like Tomatin is one of the few distilleries that "caters" to the whisky connoisseur, the geek or the aficionado. 

1. They don't bottle at 40%
2. They don't chill filter or colour their whiskies
3. No crazy, expensive packaging
4. Variety: NAS, aged (12-40), peated, wine finish, bourbon, travel retail, international and independ bottlings available. 
5. Visitor center has everything a whisky enthusiast could want. Both the male and female (that's huge for me).
6. Their tour is excellent
7. They do a great job on social media, listening to and interacting with their followers.

Do I really need to go on?  Well maybe one more. I personally find their whiskies quite satisfying, not only in my glass but on my wallet. If I want to spend a few dollars, they have a whisky at that price range. If I want to get a "nice" bottle, they have some at that price range as well. Needless to say, I'm super happy with these whiskies, love the fact that I can get them here in Canada as well as abroad and since I have followers and friends all over the world it's beyond refreshing to be able to recommend a whisky that is available almost everywhere to anyone may it be the 26 year old who doesn't have that much disposable income yet or the more complicated people like me ;)

I very much look forward to going back to Scotland in 2015 and I plan on visiting the cask that I lovingly signed as a dedication to the #whiskyfabric at Tomatin. I also look ahead and can't wait to see what they do next. 

  • New to whisky?  Find a Tomatin and try it.
  • Tired of marketing spin?  Look no further than a Tomatin and try it.
  • Don't want colored or chill filtered whisky...  Tomatin, TRY IT.   
  • Don't want to pay through the nose for good quality whisky...  I think you get the point.

Lassie recommended!! Errr, wrong Lassie?!
Tomatin remains extremely high for 2014 as far as recommendations, simple but pleasurable enjoyment and value. I hope you have a chance to try some of their core range or special releases and if you do, let them know.

Without a doubt in my mind, Tomatin does whisky well.  End of story... for now  ;)


Thursday, October 30, 2014

week 3 - 1988 was a good year for growing up, friendships and whisky...

Weird stuff has been happening in Canada that has left the majority of us simply shaking our heads. Fords back in office, radicalist attacks on home soil and non-consensual BDSM allegations for a well loved Canadian Icon. 2014 certainly won't be forgotten in many of our books. But I have to say the freakiest thing about this year for me is my daughter turns 30 next week! 

Moments like that make me think and be thankful for some of the memorable things in my life. I ended up calling a really good friend of mine as we hadn't talked in awhile, in a long while actually. We were extremely close when we were much younger however life pulled us in very separate directions but we always end up touching base and catching up. So there we were again catching up after not speaking to each other for almost a year. At one point he said all this shit in the news makes me realize how quickly it all goes by. I joked we were not that old and he kindly reminded me we had known each other since 1988. I did the math... OMG, I said as I put my hand on my forehead we have known each other for 26 years!? Nothing like a quick math lesson to realize that more than half of my life.

After work I went into my whisky room and picked up my Tomatin 1988. Coincidence?! I think not... Rarely seems to be in my life. So I grabbed a glass and my notebook. As I sat nosing, sipping and making notes I thought about the earlier conversation and it made me go back in time...    

1988... Good lord, I was 22 years old. Living on my own with my daughter (yes I was a really young mom). At that point I had a high school education with no family living close by but I was determined I would not be a "teen mom statistic". I worked hard to make our lives as good as it could be. Things that were important to me then: My child, my family, my friends. I was making $26,000 a year working as a telephone operator. I owned and paid $4500 for my Dodge Colt, a dozen eggs cost me 65 cents and if I went to a movie I could get in for $3.50. Life certainly seemed complicated at the time but in hindsight I realize it truly wasn't. 

I loved Elizabeth Manley
I don't really remember much about that year other than I broke up with my daughter's dad, Canada hosted the winter Olympics and Prince Charles escaped an avalanche (don't ask me why I remember that?!) but I do know that my friendship with Darren started that year, simply stated the way most of my adventures always begin.

I was living on the 4th floor of an apartment high rise, it was summer and I recall it was my day off. I was sitting on the balcony reading while Michelle napped. The next thing I knew there was a canoe going by my floor. It got stuck on the banister of my balcony and I could hear a couple of guys arguing. I got up and walked over to the edge. I looked up as well as down and sure enough there was a young man two floor above me with a rope and a young man on the ground with a rope trying to hoist a canoe.

They sheepishly stared at me for a moment and asked that I set the canoe free. Me, being the silly child I can be sometimes asked what exactly they planned on doing with the canoe once they got it up to the 6th floor. Long story short one of their friends had lost a bet and they were going to replace his bed with the canoe. I was amused by this and decided I would help. "Where will you be storing the bed?" I asked as I released the canoe tip from the rung. Peter (I later got both their names) said they were simply going to put it in his spare bedroom so I said, you can store it here if you like. Darren started laughing like crazy and said "Deal!". They came by about an hour later with the bed and I stored it in my dining room. Darren and I exchanged telephone numbers so they could get it in a few days after they drove their friend Dan a little crazy. 

The whole thing went over like a lead balloon with Dan and after 2 days they put him out of his misery. Darren called me about a week later and offered to drop off a bottle of wine to thank me for being an accomplice. I accepted. We both agree often that he and I clicked from the moment we sat down that night. We talked and drank wine until 3:00 in the morning. We dated... and both agreed that was the stupidest thing we could have ever done because the reality was it felt like I was kissing my little brother. 

However, Darren is proof that friendships can span a lifetime. Oddly enough I met a very special man not long after that, we married, had Erica and the rest is Lassie history...
Michelle now 30
I'm almost 48 now and have two beautiful daughters who are educated, independent and not only do I love them, I like them too. I "did" good. I'm really proud of that. Things that are very important to me now: My kids, my family and my friends. Everything has changed but oddly enough the things that mean the most to me haven't. My life has been interesting and even though the hardships may have been plentiful during those first few years I wouldn't change them for the world. Yup, 1988 was a really great year. 

The segway to whisky you say?! Well of course in 1988 someone at Tomatin was making whisky and even though it was the worst of times (critical economic downturn) Tomatin thankfully survived. So, in 2014 Graham Eunson and his team decided it was time to bottle the whisky from 1988 as vintage batch release. Vatted from a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-Port casks to create what is essentially one of my favorite Tomatin's to date. 

Tomatin 1988, 46% ABV & non-chill filtered

Nose: My first sniff hit me like the fantastic memory it holds. Have you ever had jam cookies!? These were a staple at my grandmother's house. This was followed by orange creamsicles.

Palate: The sweet & creamy flavor is there like lemon squares. After it sits in the glass a little while it developed into chocolate covered cherries. It was quite a change in direction that surprised me. 

Finish: Long, lingering with a refreshing quality (sort of like eating parsley after a meal). Stayed with me for quite some time.
I've tried 11 different Tomatin's over the course of the last 2 years and I have to say this is by far my favorite so far. It's inviting on the nose, delicious on the palate and quite satisfying from start to finish. 

As stated, 1988 was a great year for many things including this whisky. I do hope Tomatin considers keeping this one as part of their core range as I believe it's a keeper that many people will enjoy. 

Available in the UK, USA and of course Alberta Canada markets. If you live in Calgary or Edmonton they are having Tomatin tastings the first and second week of November.  It's a fantastic chance to try quite a few of their whiskies including this one.

Next week I will be reviewing a North American Exclusive Tomatin Release - French Oak 12 Year Old.

Until then, get out there and try some Tomatin!!!

I certainly will be.