Whisky Connosr

Tomatin Cu Bocan Virgin Oak

Lame Marketing - Very Nice Whisky

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@jerryclydeReview by @jerryclyde

30th Mar 2019


Tomatin Cu Bocan Virgin Oak
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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One of the NAS offerings from Tomatin that allows the distillery to put to use some of its younger whiskies. Despite the lame marketing ploy to associate this dram with a legend of a hell hound (Cu Bocan), this is a very well made whisky that deserves serious attention. The nose is especially enjoyable. "Fully matured in virgin oak" states the label, and the oak influence is to the front through all phases of nosing and tasting. Not exactly "bourbony" but there is enough vanilla, honey/caramel and oak spice to at least suggest some similarities.

Color: Amber

Nose: Light smoke and vanilla. Then dried herbs, mint and tobacco. Malt and honey. Fresh sawn oak. This is a very nice nose with which to spend some time.

Palate: Very light and satiny with the sugars (honey and malt) arriving together with a complementary array of spices. This results in a nice sweet/spice interplay at mid-palate. Oak tannins now make a more marked influence and dries things out. Chewy.

Finish: The oak tannins are prominent but the sugars still hang around enough to make for a balanced finish.

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Victor commented

@jerryclyde thanks very much for your review. It would be extremely interesting to find out just how long Tomatin aged the whisky in new oak barrels, as well as what level of char or toasting was used.

The currently odd US Government regulations on whiskey nomenclature promote the aging of US barley-malt whiskey in charred new oak barrels. From the examples I have seen, e.g. Stranahan's, Wasmund's, Westland, etc. 5 or 6 years is about the upper limit in aging time in most US climates before the new oak barrels overpower the rather delicately flavoured barley-malt distillate.

I think that aging barley-malt distillate in new oak barrels should best be accomplished in toasted and not charred barrels. The only trouble there, for both US and UK producers, is that this approach would require longer aging time to get the desired results. Charred new oak barrels give results very quickly, in months, rather than years. Five years in charred new oak is actually a long time, especially for the delicate grains of barley and corn. This is why corn whiskey in the US is customarily matured in used cooperage. Like barley, corn is quickly overpowered by oak flavours. I would like to see a lot more barley-malt whisky matured in new toasted oak barrels, as was accomplished with Glenmorangie Ealanta. Ealanta was matured for 19 years in toasted new oak barrels. The result was quite interesting and generally well-received. Try doing that with charred new oak barrels and you will not be able to identify barley in the whisky after 19 years.

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