Tomatin 21, 1st Fill Ex-Bourbon Barrels, 46% – OB for Travel Retail

With things being as they are, this seems a completely random bottle to buy, but somehow I did buy it. I planned to use it last year, in a tasting of some sort, but ended up not doing that for whatever reason. That’s something that happens when you need six whiskies for a tasting, but buy eight.

Anyway, properly aged Tomatin, at a decent ABV. I’m still not sure whether or not the ‘Travel Retail Exclusive’ should be seen as an invitation or a warning. Brands like to brandish statements like that, but in general, Travel Retail whiskies are pretty shit. Or at least, prices tend to be pretty shit.

Tomatin then. A weird distillery if there ever was one. A massive plant with a reasonably low output compared to what they have room for, or what they produced 40 years ago. They went down from 22 stills to 12 in the eighties, due to a lack in demand, and the awful state of most of the stills. Some necks were held up by ropes, because the copper had gotten so thin they’d cave in under their own weight. Or so the stillman told me in 2015.

Image from Whiskybase

This specific whisky then:

Initially quite light, with a lot of pastry notes. It’s predictably light, as a Tomatin should be. Hints of vanilla, some herbs and spices too. Oak, dried thyme and rosemary, but also a hint of sweeter baking spices.

The palate stays rather light, maybe even a tad less rich than the nose. There are more hints of pepper now, with white pepper for some heat. Dry oak shavings, dried spices and herbs. It suggests a sweeter undertone of vanilla and puff pastry, with baked apples and sugar. You know it’s there and you can almost taste it, but it’s holding off until the finish.

The dryness is far less, and so is the pepper. The sweetness of baked apple and puff pastry comes through as expected. It’s a bit less sweet than I expected though.

Very deep for such a light whisky. Highly enjoyable and not a simple dram after all. I’m not even put off by the vanilla that permeates the entire experience.

The simplicity of my tasting notes doesn’t do the complexity of the whisky justice.


Available for € 145 at Whiskybase


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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