Hardly any distillery embodies the ups and downs, the setbacks and the thirst for action as clearly as Tomatin. The name of the distillery near Inverness, founded in 1897, means Hill of the Juniper Bush, somewhat innaproriately as the distillers do not devote themselves to gin, but rather Whisky.
The Tomatin distillery is located 20 km south of Inverness directly on the A9, below the Monadhliath Mountains. This puts it in the Scottish Highlands, just a few kilometers east of the famous Loch Ness. Tomatin is located in the county of Iverness-shire at an altitude of 315 meters above sea level, making Tomatin Distillery one of the highest distilleries in Scotland.
How does Tomatin single malt taste?Tomatin single malt whiskies are malty, spicy, fruity and very aromatic. Tomatin produces both peated and non-peated single malts. The smoky Whisky from Tomatin go by the name Cù Bòcan, translated as ghost dog and based on the legendry dog said to haunt the distillery and surrounding highlands.
The Whiskies produced here and marketed as single malt are characterized by a delicate aroma and a character that is just as soft as it is lush.
The standard Whisky is the Tomatin 12 years, which presents itself as a gentle highland malt and can shine with a touch of peat and malty-fruity aromas. Fruity hints of pears and apples, alternating with nutty elements and malty nuances, determine the impression on the palate. Its long finish is very balanced and, due to its lush character, indicates that it has been matured in ex-sherry barrels.
The Tomatin 15 Years Bourbon Tempranillo, which was allowed to mature in a rare combination of ex-Bourbon barrels and used Tempranillo barrels from Spain, is also very successful. Fruity notes of plums and dark berries as well as a reminder of ripe grapefruits characterize its bouquet, refined with a hint of tobacco and clear vanilla. The sweetness characteristic of a bourbon can be seen on the palate, refined by fruity elements of green apples and an exotic banana note. The aftertaste is characterized by a spicy pepper note and hints of tannin.
The first aromas of coconuts and cream emerge with some botanical notes of parsley and coriander, smoke aromas emerge after a moment or so drifting past the nose, followed by a hypnotic mixture of lime, grapefruit. On the palate feather light notes of honey, smoke and roasted almonds give way to the rich flavor of cloves, cinnamon and star anise ensures elegance. It finishes with light nuances of sweet smoke.
A rarity is the intensely golden Tomatin 25 Years, which, after 25 years of cask maturation, presents itself with a sweet and very fruity aroma, which is determined by peaches, oranges and resinous elements with a dash of honey. Nutty nuances and fine spicy elements appear on the palate and lead into a long and emphatically dry aftertaste that is refined by a touch of white chocolate and heather honey.
A full 80% of the distilleries production goes into blends, the remaining 20% are highland malts full of character, charisma and charm. Softness is a trademark of the Tomatin distillery.
The water required in the distillery comes from the Allt-na-Frithe Burn in the nearby Monadhilath Mountains. The Whisky distillery uses a Lauter mash tun, 12 stainless steel washbacks and 12 stills (6 wash, 6 spirit) for an annual production volume of around 5 million litres.
The distillery is operating at only a fraction of it’s capacity. In 1974 the distillery produced 12 million liters, today only 12 of the 23 existing pot stills maiking Tomatin one of the ten largest distilleries in Scotland. In spite of this around 80% of the production is not marketed as single malt, but instead flows into blends, such as the popular blends “The Antiquary” and “The Talisman”. Under the distillery manager Graham Eunson, efforts are being made to place the single malt Whiskies more on the market.
In 1897 the illicit distillery was legalized established as Tomatin Spey District Distillery Co. Ltd. The company was bankrupt in 1906, but reopened again in 1909 as Tomatin Distillers Co. Ltd. Until 1956 it was one of the smaller distilleries with two stills. In 1958 two more were installed, in 1961 another four stills were added and in 1964 another one was added. This made Tomatin the only Scottish whiskey distillery with an odd number of stills, at least for a short time.
The distillery was gradually expanded to include additional stills, until in 1974 it became the Scottish Whisky distillery with a total of no fewer than 23 stills with the largest production capacity of 12 million liters of pure alcohol. The same year the company’s own maltings was shut down. Since then, the malt has been purchased from Glen Ord distillery. Tomatin was shaken by the crisis of the 1980s, following bankruptcy in 1985, Takara Shuzo Co. and Okara & Co. took over the ailing whisky giant making Tomatin the first Japanese-owned Scottish distillery.
Over the past ten years, the brand has been changing and growing. Instead of producing sheer output quantities, the focus is on diverse and varied qualities. The core range includes seven permanent bottlings between 12 and 36 years old. There are also special cask editions with sherry or virgin oak, vintage bottlings and the sub-brand Cù Bòcan offering peated variants. Tomatin was named “Distiller of the Year 2016” by Whiskey Magazine at the Icons of Whisky Awards Scotland.
|Name||Pronounced||AKA||Region||Country of Origin|
|Status||Active||Whisky Type||Website||Tours Available|
|Active||1897 - Present||Malt||Tomatin||Not Available|
|Manager||Distiller||Blender||Owned by||Parent Group|
|Douglas Campbell; Graham Eunson||Takara Shuzo Corp.|
1897: Founded by the Tomatin-Spey District-Distillery Co. Ltd., a consortium of Inverness businessmen, keen to take advantage of the success of the illicit whisky
1906: Tomatin production is closed again after less than nine years
1909: Reopened by the New Tomatin Distillers Co. Ltd.
WWI: Shortage of grain prevented distillery from producing
1956: Production is increased from two to four pot stills
1958: Production is increased from four to six stills
1961: Production is increased from six to ten stills
1964: Production is increased from ten to eleven stills
1974: Extended from eleven to twenty-three stills, which became all steamheated. Dark-grains plant. It became one of the most modern and largest distilleries capable of producing 5 million gallons (over 22 million litres)
1980s: During these hard years the distillery had to cutback
1985: Tomatin Distillers plc. goes into administration
1986: Acquired by a joint venture between Takara Shuzo Co. and Okura & Co.
1987: Tomatin becomes the largest malt distillery in Scotland, producing 12 million liters
1997: The company purchases blending firm J.W. Hardie and its prestigious blend, Antiquary
1998: Marubeni buys out Okura & Co., which is liquidated
1999: Owned by Takara, Shuzo & Okura
2004: Owned by The Tomatin Distillery Company Ltd, Tomatin launches a 14-year-old single malt
2013: Tomatin's first peated expression, Cu Bocan, is released
Can I tour Tomatin?
Yes Tomatin distillery is tourable. On Trip Advisor the distillery has been rated as excellent by 664 of 942 tours to date. This gives Tomatin an overall rating of 4.5
Rosemary - The Best Distillery Guide Ever! by Marti A
Tomatin 12 is one of my go to drams so we had to visit the distillery whilst we stayed in Inverness. We took a taxi from Inverness city centre and it took 25 minutes (£32).The distillery is large and whilst the 'legacy' tour only shows you a relatively small area of the overall estate you still get to see the main bits, spirit stills, malt hoppers, warehouses etc. The tour guide Rosemary was excellent, very funny, informative and relaxed - a great ambassador for Tomatin and that part of the world! I have done many distillery visits and she was easily the best and made the trip for my girlfriend and i. At the end of the tour you get to sample some drams and buy some excellent bottles of whisky and gifts in the shop. There is also a bar set up where you can enjoy various Tomatin whisky at excellent prices - £2 for a Tomatin 12 - £4 for an Antiquary 21 etc. We sat in the sun on the tables outside and enjoyed some great drams, even a 36 year old and then got a taxi back to Inverness. Thank you Tomatin & Rosemary!
Excellent Tour by Barbara C
Have done a couple of distillery tours and this was our favourite. Rosemary was a really informative and entertaining tour guide who clearly knew a thing or two about whisky! Thoroughly recommended.
Worthy the Visit by Domenico D
Very well organised tour with final testing of different whisky made by the distillery. A member of the staff showed us the production area and explained us in detail how the whisky is made in Tomatin. Covid measures were always respected during the visit. Nice shop where you can buy gifts and limited edition whisky. This distillery deserves to be seen.