Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Whisky Discovery #507

Tomatin Cù Bòcan NAS (46% abv)
Highland Single Malt Whisky
circa £43.00 70cl

I was delighted to take part in the Twitter launch of new release from the Tomatin Distillery last night. The small package arrived at Whisky Discovery HQ at the end of last week, elegantly wrapped in a black velvet pouch with just a short message on a tag tied around the neck reading. 'Join us on Twitter for the exclusive unveiling 3/9/13 at 7pm @Tomatin1897'

Initially I thought that I would miss this as I'm flying to Aberdeen this week and mistook my days thinking I would be at the airport, but I'm flying later today. However a mini crisis at work just before I was about to leave meant that I missed the first half hour of the launch, and had to quickly catch up from the moment I entered the door.

Cù Bòcan is the new release from the Tomatin Distillery, a lightly peated single malt (15ppm) matured in a combination of Virgin Oak, Bourbon and Sherry casks. Yes, another 2013 release of a single malt matured in virgin oak - was there a huge surplus a few years back of virgin oak, that a persuasive salesman managed to offload at a number of the Scottish distilleries?

I guess it must have been a risk at the time, maturing the distilled spirit in virgin oak casks when ex-bourbon and sherry casks were the norm. However the experiment seems to have worked and virgin oak casks look like they're here to stay.

So where does the name Cù Bòcan come from? 
It is Gaelic, but has a very loose translation, This is because nobody knows exactly what Cù Bòcan is! It could be a dog, but the last wolf in Scotland was also killed near Tomatin which has led to some speculation.

Cù Bòcan has stalked residents of the remote Highland village of Tomatin for centuries, his legend embellished by the hellhound's increasingly fractious behaviour.

Sightings are rare, once in a generation, always terrifying. A distillery worker, out walking late, was once relentlessly pursued by an imposing black beast, steam spiralling from flared nostrils, teeth bared.

Compelled beyond all natural reason to feel the hound's dense fur he stopped and reached out, hand trembling, only to see the ghostly spectre - Cù Bòcan - dissolve before his eyes leaving nothing but a vacuum of deathly silence and an inky blue cloud of smoke, soon spirited away across the peat moorland… 

Cù Bòcan is available from today and will be batch released as Tomatin only produce 60,000 litres of whisky per year at the moment. It's bottled at a respectable 46% abv and non-chill filtered

Official Tasting Notes:
Nose: You are initially hit with coconuts and cream with some botanic notes, parsley and coriander.  The smoke emerges after a minute, but only drifting past the nose.  A mesmeric mix of lime, grapefruit and tangerines with rich almond and aniseed.

Mouth: Initially feather light, followed by a honeyed smoke; toasted almonds.  The rich spice of cloves, cinnamon and star anise create an enigmatic elegance.  Imagine a café latte with fresh chocolate shavings.

Finish: Light with a hint of sweet smoke. 

So What Did I Think?
My initial impression (remember I'd literally just walked in the door from an hours drive across the Herts, Beds and Bucks countryside) was that this has a sweet fruity nose with a very gentle peat reek. Some honey, heather and a touch of white pepper, which I think made me sneeze! (I did sneeze, but can't be certain that Cù Bòcan was fully responsible) After a short while, vanilla now started to ooze from the glass along with some oak wood.

When I returned to the dram later on in the evening (I had to get something to eat first!) the citrus notes mentioned in the official notes came through for me; Lemons, Limes and Grapefruit, with a heather and herbal element too

Spicy on the palate with a fair smack of chilli and white pepper, but once the fire subsides this is getting very creamy. There is a vanilla sweetness behind the spiciness with woody pencil shavings and a light fragrant smoke.

The finish came across as spicy with more white pepper and then that gentle fragrant smoke remains to the very end.

What did the others think?
@abbeywhisky:  Nose; Sweet smoke, lemon & grapefruit zests combined, slight nutty hints
@BarryMBradford: I'm getting sweet pear drops and peanut and creosote and a hint of lemon, like cough mixture on the nose
@steveprentice: Nose: Buttery, light and distinctly Tomatin in nature, but with a back note of smoke. A light highland smoke, not a heavy coastal Islay peat smoke. Vanilla and fresh citrus notes.
@WorldWhiskyDay: Nose: Lemons + cinnamon powder + honey. Then a little bit of tobacco smoke appears. Its not overly complex but it smells great!
@ChrisWhiskyman: Honey becoming lightly floral with a touch of sweet spice. Very elegant
@LaCaveDeCobalt: First sip is so nice… and punchy, but not so strong on the palate. You can feel the peat, fresh but not smoky.
@whiskytutor: Toffee hazelnuts/amaretti biscuits palate: medium-dry with good weight quite rich toffee/coffee and dark chocolate
@ifotou: Taste; Sweetness and a touch of smoke and lots of sweet manuka honey, vanilla and a hint of almond paste.
@LRWhisky: Second taste, Loving the chilli spiciness - not overpowered though. Well balanced
@steveprentice Finish: A medium length helped by the creamy oils leaving their sweetness over your palate. Whiffs of smoke hang around for a while reminding you that they're there.
@yoavgel Medium length finish, spicy, not oak heavy which is good thing. peat is there in the back of the mouth, good harmony

And finally

Many thanks to Tomatin for inviting me to this launch new release to review. You can find out more at the Cù Bòcan website and you can also find them on Facebook

Slàinte! Dave

No comments: