Tomatin 2002-2016, 14yo, Cabernet Sauvignon Cask Finish, 46%

The second Tomatin of the three Limited Editions of 2016 is a spirit that matured in refill bourbon and was transferred to Cabernet Sauvignon casks afterwards. You can see it by its color, since it’s got a lovely red hue to it.

The finish isn’t something done in a few months, which the guys at Tomatin view as something you do because you want to save a bad cask. This one was finished for five years since March 1st, 2011. The cask was made from oak harvested in the Allier forest in France, but whether it’s made from French Oak or something else is unknown. French Oak is not just ‘oak from France’, but a different species from American Oak (Quercus Robur and Quercus Alba).

Generally, I’m not a huge fan of wine cask maturation or finishing. Fortified wine is another story. Generally when some massive red wine is used, it tends to overpower a spirit, but this is by no means a given. Which means I keep trying them and occasionally find a good one (Auchentoshan Bordeaux Cask, Octomore Orpheus).

The nose is really big, heavy and atypically sweet. Lots of wine cask influence (not necessarily the same as wine influence). The wet oak and dirt floors. Old fruit, with red grapes and blackberries. Cherries on syrup.

The palate is rich and quite intense. It’s slightly drying with flavors of oak and wine. It gets drier as you let it swim for a bit. There’s an earthy hint of dusty dirt. Dried red fruits with some baking spices like cinnamon and pepper.

The finish shows a bit more of the spirit and is slightly more spicy than the palate was, with the fruit being almost gone entirely.

There are wine finishes that are in complete harmony with the spirit, and there are wine finishes that completely overpower the whisky they’re trying to enhance. Now I’ve found one that sits nicely in the middle. The spirit is still detectable, but mostly on the finish. The wine isn’t all encompassing and complex enough to add some nice flavors of not just fruit and wine.

Still, though, I’m not a huge fan. I think the wine is slightly too rich for the delicateness of Tomatin’s spirit, even though the spirit is still there. Mind, it’s not bad per se, and I can think of a few people who’d love a bottling like this. It’s just not for me.


Tomatin 2002-2016, 14yo, Cabernet Sauvignon Cask Finish, 46%. Available from Dramtime for 80 euros


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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