BLOG: Glenfiddich 18 -Vs- Tomatin 18

– Written by Andy

Like all battles, this one begins under dubious and tenuous circumstances. Glenfiddich, a Speyside heavy hitter and Tomatin, a quiet Highlander, perhaps seem to have little in common at first glance. They both, in fact, share almost exactly the same latitude in Scotland, sandwiched between the Cairngorms and the Moray Firth, although Tomatin actually lies just outside the Speyside region. Both were formally established as distilleries a few years apart in the late 19th Century although Glenfiddich’s malt production boomed in the years following American Prohibition while Tomatin saw the majority of its single malt go into blends like Antiquary and Talisman until quite recently.

To resort to a clumsy metaphor, the Glenfiddich brand could be seen as a seasoned movie star to Tomatin’s acclaimed supporting character actor. Glenfiddich whisky has in fact found its way on screen in various scenarios such as Inspector Morse, Family Guy and The Vicar of Dibley and is even a royal favourite of Prince Harry. Tomatin on the other hand, has never been one for the limelight, given the site may have been host to an illegal distillery site as early as the 15th Century.

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Ready to fight – dram to dram
By selecting 18 year old expressions from each distillery for this tasting, I’ve nominated them both in the same category and only one will be awarded victorious and have to cobble together an incoherent speech of thanks at the podium…

Glenfiddich 18 Year Old (40% ABV, c.£70)

Starting with the Glenfiddich, this 18 year old expression has been matured in bourbon and Oloroso casks.  The distillery tells me to expect consistency and character on their website, and even offers an option to personalise the bottle – presumably in case you forget who you bought it for?

Nose: Quite slow at first, then fruit and dark chocolate in abundance

Palate: Building spice gives way to sweeter fruitiness and rich, dry Sherry

Finish: A little more spice – and toffee apples!

OVERALL: A fine dram. Gets better with every sip and delivers more or less all the richness and complexity you’d want from a sherried Speyside.

Dram-a-long Song: Frank Sinatra – One For My Baby (And One More For The Road

– Showy, sophisticated and instantly recognisable…

Tomatin 18 Year Old (46% ABV, c.£75)

Same age statement. Same Oloroso cask finish. They even share roughly the same rich, dark golden colour. That may be where the similarities end…if you want to personalise this bottle you’ll need to buy a gift label.

Nose: A lot more present, the fruity notes are accompanied by a number of sweet spices yanked right out of Christmas and into the glass

Palate: Wow. Buttered toast, boiled sweets, honey mead, cinnamon…there’s plenty to chew on here.

Finish: The spice lingers longest, leaving me missing that initial wave of flavours

OVERALL: So much depth and kick it could score in the top corner from the half-way line. I know this distillery is one of Craig Watson‘s favourites and I can see why.

Dram-a-long Song: Jimi Hendrix – Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

– Complex, powerful, lets the quality do the talking…

The Verdict

It’s a well-deserved win for the Tomatin 18 Year Old. In terms of a mid-range, sherried single malt it superbly presented and balanced and actually very good value considering what you get for your money.

Do you have a favourite of these two whiskies or a dram-a-long song suggestion? Get in touch on Twitter.

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PODCAST: S2E3 – Benromach 100 Proof

So it’s taken the This Is My Dram team until half way through the second series (that’s over 9 hours of edited audio out there already, folks) to finally get round to reviewing a single malt from Scotland’s most famous and populous distillery region – Speyside. IMG_9199.JPGHey, they’re independently minded guys, just like the company behind this episode’s dram, Gordon & MacPhail. Founded in 1895 by James Gordon and John Alexander MacPhail with a shop located on South Street, Elgin the firm began to specialise in bottling single malts in the early 20th Century, and in an age when few distilleries were bottling singles, may have held the largest range in of single malt whiskies in the world in the post-war years. After almost a hundred years of bottling, the company bought Benromach Distillery in 1993 which opened in 1998. As fans of both whisky and music, Andy and Stu couldn’t resist a nice indie label…

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The cask strength whisky is 57% ABV (100 Proof in old money) and impressed Andy and Stu with its rich, sweet nose, spiced fruit palette and oaky, smoky finish. A drop of water revealed another layer of complexity. To find out what they thought of Benromach 100 Proof in full, have a listen to the podcast:

For the playlist, the team gave themselves the seemingly narrow parameters of UK independent record labels before realising, to quote Stu, “practically all the music I own was released by UK independent record labels.” As a result, Andy and Stu were essentially free to select some of their favourite tracks in general, adding to the thoroughly pleasant experience of drinking the Benromach. Music released on Rough Trade, Creation, Mute, XL, 4AD and Ninja Tune sprung forth from the tasting room speakers. Listen to the playlist here:

Also on the podcast, the exciting conclusion of the battle for Dramier League Table jingle in Jingle Wars, as well as the new feature The Relegation Zone. The idea for this feature came about when Andy and Stu realised they hadn’t reviewed a whisky they hadn’t rated so far and this was skewing the table towards a narrow field of high achievers.

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To give a bit more context to the title contenders, the pair resolved to tackle a truly disagreeable dram and it’s fair to say their reaction provides a little more than just context…