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We Taste: The Tomatin Italian Collection

Last week Highland distillery Tomatin launched its Italian Collection: a trio of whiskies that showcase the influence of wine cask finishing on its single malt. As Blender & Global Brand Ambassador Scott Adamson explained, the collection pays homage both to the Italians’ enduring love affair with Scotch, whisky and to the country’s surprisingly vast influence on Scottish food culture. The Italians, for example, were responsible for propagating not only ice cream parlours across the country, but also for the popularity of fish and chips in Scotland from the end of the 19th century onwards!

Tomatin brand ambassador Scott talks us through the whiskies

To create the trio, Tomatin took 10-year-old whisky that had been distilled in December 2010 and split it into three separate parcels. Each of these was filled into casks that had held one of three iconic Italian wines: Marsala, Amarone and Barolo.

Tomatin’s single malt, which typically offers notes of fruit, malt and citrus, was kept in these casks for a further two years, and the resulting bottles allow you to compare the effects of each one.

The Marsala Edition
Marsala is a fortified wine made in Sicily, although the perennially thirsty English had a lot to do with its development and popularity in the 18th century. It can vary in style from dry to sweet, and present nutty, honey, stewed fruit and vanilla flavours. The casks used for the Italian Collection previously held a sweeter style of Marsala, which comes through in the finished whisky.

Nose: Barrel char and funky dried orange notes to start, followed by honeyed apricots, marsala-soaked vanilla sponge, malted milk biscuits and candied lemon peel.
Palate: Salted caramel, chocolate limes, an oak barrel filled with dried apricots, nutmeg and wafts of tobacco.
Finish: Sweet and oily, with citrus, honey and toasted oak notes prevailing.

The Amarone Edition

If you’re new to wine, the concept of how Amarone is produced might be slightly odd. Rather than pressing the grapes as soon as they are picked, winemakers in the Veneto dry them in warm rooms for at least several weeks, concentrating the sugar within them. The wine must also be aged in oak barrels for at least two years, creating a rich, complex and robust style of wine.

Nose: Pink grapefruit peel, vanilla toffee, and red cherry crumble. In time rich apricot and warm oak appear.
Palate: Custard-covered orchard fruits with a vanilla and cinnamon crumble topping.
Finish: Cherry, vanilla and cinnamon-dusted raisins linger in the dry finish.

The Barolo Edition

Barolo is solely made from the Nebbiolo grape, grown on the rolling Langhe hills of Piedmont in northern Italy. It’s not only one of the country’s most famous wines, boasting famously complex aromas, high acidity and high tannins, with long ageing in bottle often recommended. Classic Barolo notes include tar, roses, pomegranate, black tea, cranberry and leather.

Nose: Eccles cakes fresh from the oven, dark chocolate, baking spices, flaked almonds and candied orange.
Palate: Red fruit, red wine and Christmas spice notes lead, followed by tangy orange candy and citrus peel notes.
Finish: Hints of marzipan, liquorice, mulled-wine-soaked orange and tannin come through in the long finish.

Each bottle in the Tomatin Italian collection is a limited edition of 6,000 bottles. Shop now on The Whisky World