Review – Cù Bòcan 1990

During the last month of each year Tomatin Distillery use a peated barley in its whisky production. Initially this was used for blending into its portfolio of blends, anecdotally I hear for replacing the Ledaig and Bowmore sourced for The Antiquity blend.

Initially this peated run was relatively lightly peated at 15ppm but this years batch is seemingly at a much higher 45ppm.

The peated run of 90,000 litres per annum is now filled into a mix of 1st fill ex-Bourbon, ex-Sherry and Virgin Oak casks and, when matured, will be bottled as Cu Bocan. The Cu Bocan itself being a mythical beast that is said to have stalked the residents of Tomatin village and had the ability to vanish, leaving behind a trail of blue tinged smoke.

This latest releases follows previous limited editions including a 2006 vintage in 2017, the 1988 and 2005 vintages in 2016, the Virgin Oak, Sherry and Bourbon expressions in 2015 and the 1989 vintage in 2014.

This Cu Bocan expression is slightly different however as it is originally an unpeated spirit that has spent 24 years in bourbon casks before being transferred to casks that had be previously been used to mature a peated Islay whisky for an additional 4 years.

The special 1990 vintage limited edition was initially distilled on 17 October 1990  It is bottled at 52.9%, is limited to 1400 bottles, is natural colour and non-chill filtered.

Recommended Retail Price is around £230.

Cu Bocan 1990 Limited Edition, OB ( Tomatin Distillery), 52.9%abv, press sample.

Cu-Bocan-1990-Bottle-Box-DarkBG-SM-110918

The nose is peaty.

Hang on, no its not…

It’s actually quite light and fruity with some apricots, peaches and hints of orange oil. It is most most definitely typical Tomatin house style so far. Quite tropical in nature with toasted coconut, papaya and a mild nutty element. A tropical trail mix. There is quite an earthy dampness with old wet wood and dunnage warehouse. After a while a faint wisp of distant woodsmoke lingers.

The palate is initially woody but soon a few coastal notes soon reveal themselves, touches of sea spray and a mild fishy tang. There is a noticeable minerality here, alongside the dampness brought from the nose. Touches of ginger and citrus intermingle with faint spices.

The finish is definitely where the peat comes more to prominence. Softly though and never overwhelmingly. There is still a solid oaky base with some slight ashy notes and some extinguished cigars in the background.

A different kind of animal. Not the peaty punch I expected with the ex-islay casks giving an extra layer of flavour intermingled with some very recognisable Tomatin spirit. £230 is a bit of an investment in a bottle but its different enough to make it stand out amongst others in the range and complex enough to firmly hold your interest.

You can find more tasting notes and whisky news in the Amateur Drammers Archives.

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4 comments

  1. AmateurDrammer · ·

    No knowledge on this, if I hear anything I will let you know.

  2. Did you get a line on the likely arrival time of the 2003 while you were there? Or do the mysterious ‘production issues’ rumble on?

  3. AmateurDrammer · ·

    Yes, that’s correct. Unpeated spirit with an Islay cask finish.

  4. The 1990 isn’t peated spirit tho is it? It’s ex-islay cask finished only as with the 1988 which was finished in Ardbeg casks.

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