The 2006 Limited Edition of the Tomatin Cù Bòcan apparently refers to the year this whisky was distilled, since it came out in 2017–and given that the 2005 Edition came out in 2016. The name Cù Bòcan refers to a mythical Highland hellhound that supposedly haunted the town of Tomatin. The distillery produces peated malt during the last week of production each year (before shutting down for cleaning), and it is that spirit that goes into the Cù Bòcan.
The press materials said that they’ve been playing with the PPM of the peated malt they do that one last week of the year, and on the nose, you can really tell, because only the top note of the vegetal oiliness betrays that there’s peat in there at all. It’s round, piney, and somewhat earthy, like the bottom half of a pine tree–and no less integrated. But as you nose it further, you get the sense that if you could just scratch that bark off like it were a Willy Wonka creation, you’d be able to pull out huge lemons, each one carefully stuffed with a peeled orange before being coated in food-grade lacquer.
The mouth spins and whirls, throwing off the most lovely and lively spice wherever it goes. The peat is subtle and gorgeous: hellhound, my ass. It has the creamy unctuousness of artisanal butter converted into ghee and then forced through a sieve of lemon slices 500 slices thick. This is the Rocky Balboa of mouths–it just won’t stop coming, no matter how you try to keep it at bay. But unlike a Terminator, it’s charming and lovable. Hell, it might even have a pair of turtles called Cuff and Link.
The finish is just the appreciation of the ongoing mouth. In other words, there is no distinct finish, but the mouth is so long and lively, it picks up the finish and carries it across the line itself.
On the scale of mythic hellhounds–
The Cù Bòcan 2006 Limited Edition is a Church Grim–these hounds protect churches and their grounds, instead of merely terrorizing people, as most hellhounds do. It’s unfortunate that they come from burying a dog alive in the foundation of the church, but their loyalty is apparently irrepressible, and they guard the church and its grounds nevertheless. They may still technically qualify as hellhounds, but they’re far more noble and worth keeping around.
–Our thanks to Tomatin for the sample!