Tomatin has been producing and blending Scotch whisky since 1897. Over the last 50 years, the distillery has borne witness to vast change. At its peak in the 1970s, it was the largest distillery in the world and operated 23 stills while producing 12 million litres of alcohol every year. Tomatin is famous for being one of the last examples of a Victorian 'distillery village', where the entire conurbation it made up of distillery workers' housing. Today, the village of Tomatin is still occupied by past and present employees, and their families.
Only 3,600 bottles of Decades II are available and it will retail at £175 per 70cl. The spirit has been bottled at 46% ABV, after being matured in ‘a mix of traditional Scotch whisky, ex-Bourbon, ex-Sherry and re-charred French oak casks from the last 50 years.’
Tomatin describe Decades II as ‘a rich and complex expression’ with ‘initial bursts of fruits giving way to hints of sweet pastry and wood shavings, and aromas of both cooked fruits and floral coconut tones.’ Mouthfeel is described as ‘unctuous’ and the palate as offering ‘notes of Christmas cake, maple syrup and fresh red berries giving way to tropical fruits’ with a ‘long, waxy, tropical finish.’
Graham Eunson, distillery operations director at Tomatin said:
“Balancing the flavour profiles of just a few casks can be a real challenge, so to marry five decades of Tomatin whisky in such a way that each cask compliments the next is a testament to the team, both those who work at Tomatin today and those that worked at Tomatin before us, who distilled and laid down some of the casks we’ve used. We’ve been the custodians of exceptional Scotch for generations, and that care and experience is really showcased by Decades II.”
According to Tomatin, Decades II combines some of the ‘best whisky from Tomatin’s history’, with each decade contributing different flavours. Importantly, Tomatin have outlined the exact cask types and flavour profiles incorporated into Decades II, which are outlined below, with notes from Graham Euanson.
Refill bourbon hogsheads: distilled on 23/02/1973, 10/07/1975 and 23/09/1977
“Decades II’s robust flavour began by maturing in refill hogshead barrels. The malt has taken on very little oak influence, which has allowed the air and liquid in the casks to interact and develop a wide array of tropical fruit flavours.”<
Finished in first fill oloroso sherry butts: distilled on 02/12/1988
“This 80s malt is sweet, fresh and has been finished for over three years in 1st fill Oloroso Sherry Butts, resulting in a whisky reminiscent of aged Cognac. It complements the fruity notes of the previous casks by contributing tones of aged leather, polished oak and dark roast coffee to the finished expression.”
First fill bourbon barrels: distilled on 04/10/1995
“Although well into its twenties, the characteristics of golden syrup and freshly baked pastries help make this bold malt stand up to the older casks. The use of 1st fill Bourbon Barrels adds subtle spices and a layer of overall warmth to the expression, as well as being the source of Decades II’s long, waxy finish.”
Recharred verdejo wine barrels: distilled on 28/01/2000 and 05/06/2009
“Post 2000, Tomatin began to experiment with a wider variety of casks. The malt used from the 2000s onwards has been matured in Verdejo wine casks that have been re-charred to harness the full influence of the French oak. This flavour journey compliments the addition of the 1990s bourbon cask, adding additional notes of spice as well as a sweetness to the malt.”
Second fill French oak barrels: distilled on 14/03/2013
“The young Tomatin from this second fill cask imparts the fantastic distillery character to Decades II. Fresh green fruits and malty characteristics are at the fore with subtle spices and toffee in the background, resulting in a vivacious malt to balance the flavours of the older casks.”