I buy cheap whisky, and more often than not I regret it. Cheap is of course a subjective term, so for the purposes of this, I am talking about sub-£30.
I have tried a lot of the supermarket staples, and been sucked in by the £12 blend or the £20 single malt from the discount chains, and maybe I will again! I occasionally hear people say how good value for the money they are, and how they are an “easy sipper”. Yet, whenever I buy them, after one or two underwhelming drams they tend to sit on the shelf and gather dust, before being reluctantly reached for now and again in the interests of chipping away and eventually reaching the bottom of the bottle. I sometimes hear mention of “guard whiskies” to protect the more precious liquid, but that isn’t really something I am that interesting in. I want to enjoy every whisky I drink, rather than feeling like I am putting up with it, all the while longing to pour a dram of something I love.
The thing is I don’t drink whisky to get drunk. I drink whisky for the smell and taste experience that this spirit gives us like no other spirit I have come across can. For me, whisky is about sitting down and appreciating each nose and sip. Not always in a deeply analytical manner, but it is something to be savoured and enjoyed slowly. I don’t drink huge quantities each week and I want every dram to count as a positive experience.
Therefore, when people describe a dram as being that easy sipper, or a good start to a flight, I am more likely to assume it is actually pretty average quality and possibly not worth bothering with. That’s not to say I don’t get sucked in from time to time, despite knowing it is a completely false economy, and I would have been much better served to have saved that £15-25 and bought something in the £35-40 category, which seems to be the point where good whisky begins these days. Glencadam 10, Ledaig 10, Arran 10, Deanston 12, Benromach 10 etc.
It’s worth noting at this point that these cheap whiskies aren’t necessarily bad whisky, but I am some way along on my whisky journey, and they no longer satisfy me. It’s a bit like eating an incredible fillet steak from a fine restaurant one day, then trying to get excited about a £3 rump steak the next night. There’s nothing especially wrong with it, but it can’t compete.
This all brings me to the subject of today’s review. A whisky that is under £30 regularly, and I managed to pick up for just a smidge under £23. It is 43% ABV, which is slightly more encouraging when compared to some of the cheap whiskies in the price bracket that so often let me down. It is one I often hear described as an easy sipper, and a good start to a flight, before moving onto the more complex whiskies, so perhaps I shouldn’t expect too much. Let’s see…
Tomatin Legacy – Review
Matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and virgin oak casks, Tomatin Legacy is currently available at a handful of retailers for £22.90
Nose : Plenty of bright, fresh, sweet, acidic fruit to the fore – orchard fruits are abundant, with sweet pears slightly more prominent than sour apple notes. There’s a good dose of vanilla, a slight stony earthiness at the back, with a little fresh yeast and malt.
Palate : It’s a similar story here at first, with the bright, fresh, sweet orchard fruits. It’s perhaps a little more on the sour apple than was on the nose, but there is plenty of sweet confectionery pear to balance it out. It’s quite juicy at first, but things start to turn a little bitter, tannic and drying; possibly from the virgin oak casks used. There’s a fair amount of woody spice too, before a creamy nuttiness develops, which continues into the finish. The finish is moderate in length and drying, with a continuing warming spice, with apple peels and light salt.
Conclusions : Thankfully I won’t be regretting this purchase at all. This is a style I am really keen on, and despite its apparent youth, there is plenty of lovely orchard fruits to make this a true “easy sipper”, without being boring and a chore to get through. The woody bitterness on the palate is the slight negative with this, but at no point does it become unpleasantly domineering. I will replace this i’m sure.
Feel free to let me know your recommendations for sub-£30 whiskies that you reach for regularly. I would add Loch Lomond Peated Single Grain to my list, but it is a very short list indeed.
Score : 6/10
Three word review – Bright. Fruity. Fresh.
ABV : 43%
Non-chill filtered : No
Natural Colour : No
Maturation : Ex-bourbon and virgin oak casks
Region : Highland
Colour : Gold