Friday morning has swung by again and my memory seems slightly fuzzy from our visit to one of London's hot new bars, The Mayor Of Scaredy Cat Town. Here, we find an innocent looking cafe/diner upstairs, with a rather over-sized Smeg fridge freezer. Surreptitiously beckon over the waiter and ask kindly to 'see the mayor' and the fridge door will swing back to reveal a hidden entrance to a Speakeasy basement bar...and its rather tasty, but ultimately lethal contents.
All of which brings me to today. As I wake up, something doesn't feel quite right. Sure, the brilliantly well made Manhattan's and a cigar are probably to blame, but although my voice sounds deeper and 'older', I look in the mirror and realise something is definitely wrong...
So today, until I've fully matured, Joel will have to tell you about today's whisky.
In fact, the brace of drams we're bringing you today are a particularly good example of genuine maturity, rather than dressing something up in an older set of slightly ill-fitting, oaky clothes.
Tomatin's Distillery manager Douglas Campbell is no stranger to maturing well. In fact, he's spent the last 50 years at the distillery, an hugely impressive feat in day and age. Douglas has selected a number of casks from the ageing stocks of Tomatin to produce their latest expressions, a 30yo bottling, matured from a mixture European and American oak and 'Decades' - combining casks from 1967, 1976, 1984, 1990 and a peated Tomatin from 2005 to mark such an outstanding length of service. Both releases will be available from later in July and are bottled at 46% ABV and come non-chill filtered.
Tomatin - 30 year old - 46% - NCF - 200 cases
Nose: Clean linen, followed swiftly by a highly perfumed wax note, some desiccated coconut, a hint of grain spirit and a big fat shot of ripe vanilla pod. The oak in there in abundance, but still restrained. With time, white chocolate and mocca notes begin to emerge and some fresh passion fruit. Very nicely balanced.
Palate: Creamy cereal, with red berries & vanilla ice cream. A tiny hint of sootiness creeps in as the palate dries, but this is pretty much all sweetness and light.
Finish: Drying oak notes, with an extended display from the cream.
Overall: Surprisingly fresh faced but still with all the hallmarks of a well aged whisky. The bourbon influenced oak has the upper hand here, over the European oak casks, but highly sippable and well developed.
Next up, a little look back through the distillery's history, courtesy of Douglas Campbell.
Tomatin - Decades - 46% - NCF
Nose: Sweet vanilla ice cream, butterscotch sauce, white lilies, some youthful, sweet grain whisky notes, marzipan and cherry sherbet.
Palate: The fruity, vanilla notes are carried over onto the palate, with buttery cream fudge, strawberries and cream, a light orange zest and the merest hint of peat. Light creamy and - to be brutally honest, absolutely delicious.
Finish: The creamy fudge notes coat the palate, with lingering light oak dryness. All really in balance.
Overall: An unexpected delight. We haven't reviewed that many Tomatin's here but here is a cracking brace, showing the quality of casks at the distillery's disposal and the very fact that knowledge, wisdom and dedication to the cause (from Mr Campbell) go a long way to producing some truly excellent whiskies.