Earlier this week I headed a long to a BYOD (Bring Your Own Dad) event with Tomatin, so of course, I brought Kirsten. Of all my friends she’s the most like a parent: sensible, handy around the house, and most importantly, she enjoys a good drink. The evening took place at Usquabae in the West End, which I was very excited about because I’d never been, but I’ve wanted to for a while because I’ve heard great things. Usquabae is a basement whisky bar, so it was perfect for the occasion. The bar creates a lovely atmosphere, with a wooden interior, low ceilings and dimmed lighting – the ideal place to escape the Scottish weather and warm up with a dram (or 4)!
There were various tables laid out with glasses, and Kirsten and I took 2 seats in the middle of the room, to get a good view. We were welcomed to the whisky tasting by Graham Eunson and his daughter Kirstie. Graham is the Distillery Manager and has worked in the industry for over 30 years, Kirstie was brought up living on distillery sites and now works for Tomatin, as well as studying a Masters in Brewing and Distilling. It was obvious to see that father and daughter have a great relationship and Graham informed us that Tomatin has a lot of relatives working together. I could quickly see that the distillery would be a very hospitable and friendly place, to both work, and visit.
After hearing the fascinating background of father, daughter and distillery, it was time to try our first whisky. We started on the Legacy, which is matured in a mixture of Bourbon barrels and virgin oak casks, giving the whisky a slight sweetness. Graham talked us through the aromas, of which vanilla was definitely prominent for me and sponge cake came through on the tasting. Whisky is a relatively new enjoyment of mine and Tomatin is one I hadn’t tried before, but I thoroughly enjoyed my first taste! I found the Legacy very easy to drink and not too heavy.
The 12 year old was up next and I found this even easier to drink than the Legacy; it’s very smooth. It’s also full of rich and fruity flavours after being matured in traditional Scotch Whisky, ex-Bourbon and ex-Spanish Sherry casks. Graham encouraged us to try the whiskies first and then add a splash of water to get a feel for the different tastes. Either way, I was fast realising that I’m a fan of Tomatin Whisky.
Graham and Kirstie’s passion for Tomatin was evident, but Graham’s soft spot for the 18 year old was particularly endearing. It was this whisky that persuaded him to join Tomatin and he explained that he usually prefers ex-Bourbon cask whiskies, but this is the exception. The maturation of this one is in traditional oak casks, with the first fill in Oloroso Sherry butts. It came as no surprise that the 18 year old won Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition this year – it was a pleasure to drink. Each whisky was my new favourite, but I was pretty sure this would be my favourite of the night.
That was until I tasted the 36 year old. This masterpiece comes from a combination of ex-Bourbon and ex-Oloroso Sherry casks and is incredibly smooth. It was definitely my favourite of the night, and it seems I’m not the only fan, this whisky won Best Scotch at San Francisco WSC 2017. At £600, I’m sure this is a Father’s Day Gift your Dad will really enjoy!
Graham and Kirstie were excellent hosts and next time I’m in Aviemore I’ll certainly be paying Tomatin Distillery a visit.