British actor Stephen Fry (known from his Oscar Wilde performance and The Discovery of Heaven, among others) likes whisky and his favourite dram is this 19 years old Tomatin bottled by Master of Malt. He says “This is one of the most magnificent yet approachable malts I’ve ever had the delight of sampling.” That may seem like marketing blah blah, so let’s figure out why he likes it so much.
This Tomatin was bottled at cask strength, but there’s also a version at 40%.
Tomatin 19 yo 1989 (57,6%, Master of Malt 2008)
Nose: very nice indeed. An entertaining battle between citrus (lots of oranges) and fresh oak. It seems like it has been aged in a very active cask, because it reminds me of Glenmorangie / BenRiach in virgin oak casks. On one hand, the spices (cinnamon) give it a lot of depth with a prickly edge, but on the other hand some flowery notes and soft vanilla give it a soothing feminine side. Water brings forward some tropical notes (mango? coconut?). Really good.
Mouth: again very punchy. No shortage of oak, but enough fruity notes as well (pears, slightly bittersweet grapefruit). Hints of spices (ginger). Citrus. Towards the end it gets a herbal edge. Water emphasises the wood (maybe a tad too much?) and the herbal notes.
Finish: long, on liquorice and nutmeg.
Fry is right, this Tomatin is a solid Master of Malt release. The only remark would be that it underscores the wood quite strongly and slightly overpowers the fruity notes. Recommended.