Tomatin is Gaelic for "hill of the juniper bushes", which describes its pretty setting high in the Monadh Liath mountains. It was built during the Victorian boom of 1897 and expanded from its original 2 stills to 23 stills by 1974. It was then Scotland's largest malt whisky distillery, capable of producing 13 million litres of alcohol a year, but this is no longer the case since some of the stills have been removed.
The history of Tomatin can be traced back to the 15th century when drovers would rest here on their journey to market to fill up their whisky flasks from a still alongside the Old Laird's House. While most of the buildings date from the 1970s, some from the original distillery have been retained, including a 19th century dunnage warehouse with blackened stone walls and an earthen floor.
Tomatin is a community as well as a distillery. It is one of the last distilleries to provide housing for its staff and around 25 families live on its 140 acre estate. They form the core of the workforce. It can feel quite remote, living 315 metres above sea level in the mountains, and this sense of isolation contributes to the character of Tomatin by helping to instil a strong sense of family, loyalty, friendship and trust in this unique community.
The distillery has a long and distinguished heritage of producing high quality malt whisky. The workforce takes whisky distilling very seriously indeed - some are the 5th generation of their families to work here. As a team they take pride in their community and in the traditions of distilling. And this pride, together with the passion which is evoked by the heritage, has evolved into an almost tangible spirit of ownership. The local people behind the malt provide it with its Highland pedigree.
Here's what they have to say about it...
Tomatin Distillery, home of the finest Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky, is located in the Monadhliath Mountains just south of Inverness, capital of the Highlands of Scotland. Established in 1897, Tomatin (to rhyme with satin) is also one of the highest distilleries in Scotland at 315 metres above sea level.
The soft waters of the Alt-na-Frith (Free Burn) which run clear and pure through the Monadhliath Mountains help to create a Highland Malt with delicate flavours, yet a rich and mellow style. Its undoubted quality and consistency make for a truly fine dram; a proud testimony to the art of distilling.
This world class malt has been aged for a minimum of 18 years and married for a period in distinctive Spanish Oloroso sherry casks to produce an exquisite whisky. This non chill filtered whisky is packed full of flavour and has a velvety smooth mouth feel.
Or so the Tomatin web site says, they go on...
Aroma - Delicious sweet sherry bursts up you, and plateaus with undertones of fresh apples, cinnamon, vanilla, maple syrup and a hint of smoky heather.
Palate – Sweet and honeyed at first, with an oaky edge. Develops in the mouth with a bite of citrus and a hint of dark chocolate.
Finish – Long, sweet and slightly dry.
Casks – Initial maturation in refill American oak casks, married in Oloroso sherry butts prior to bottling.
88, JIM MURRAY'S WHISKY BIBLE 2012:"What a well-mannered malt. As if it grew up in a loving, caring family and behaves itself impeccably from first nose to its last whimpering finale"
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