It flies under the radar somewhat, but Tomatin’s Cù Bòcan Creation range is one of the most fun series in whisky. It’s all about experimentation with oak, which isn’t very innovative exactly, but the results speak for themselves. You might not like every release, but they’re always interesting and different. Tomatin’s latest, the Cù Bòcan Creation #5, was finished in Colombian Andean oak.
To give you some understanding as to why I really like this series, just read my write-up from a few years ago. Imperial stout, shochu, Bacalhôa Moscatel de Setúbal, European virgin oak, Moroccan cabernet sauvignon. Some experiments work better than others, but all are creative and skillfully put together.
But back to the Cù Bòcan Creation #5, and more importantly, Colombian Andean oak. It’s reputedly the first single malt that makes use of these casks (there’s already a Black Bottle release finished in Andean oak). It is found in cold tropical climates, areas with extreme humidity and wild forests, sustainably logged high in the Cordillera region.
The Cù Bòcan Creation #5 was distilled in winter, as all Cù Bòcan is. More specifically, in December 2011. It initially matured in refill American oak hogsheads before being filled into Andean Oak casks in June 2021. A little over a year later the whisky was removed from cask. Scott Adamson, Blender and Global Brands Ambassador, comments: “Typically, we would consider one year to be quite a short finish, however the influence of the Andean Oak casks in that period was remarkable.”
Let’s find out for ourselves, shall we?
Tomatin Cù Bòcan Creation #5 (46%, OB, 2023)
Nose: We’ve moved well away from this being simply peated Tomatin. It’s light, delicate and floral, with hints of rose petals and gorse, but there are also touches of resin, white chocolate and leafy twigs. We’re ending things on ripe banana, some crushed mint, and shortbread. Smoke? Yeah, a little bit, but it’s not prominent. Taste: The mouthfeel is almost a tad too delicate. But the generous wood smoke, oak char, teak, and eucalyptus make up for it. There’s cloves, as well as black pepper, grilled peach and mushy banana. Finish: Medium length. Wood smoke, herbacious, soft spices.
What good fun it must be to play around with different oak types. It undeniably had an effect on the Cù Bòcan Creation #5. The wood influence is prominent and unusual. But not in any way intrusive. It's also probably one of the least peaty peated single malts I've tried, if that makes sense. This Cù Bòcan is all about wood smoke and campfire.