Owner.. Angus Dundee distillers.
Capacity.. 3 300 000.
Tel 01807 590274
Tours by appointment only.
FROM EARTH TO THE BOTTLE
Tomintoul is made with natural ingredients. The pure spring water we use is drawn from The Ballantruan Spring. The water is so pure it took a year of searching different sources to find it. We mix this water with fresh barley and yeast, throw in some passion, skill and care, and then add a good dose of time.
PURE BARLEY MAGIC
The first stage in making Tomintoul Whisky begins with malting barley. It first needs to be soaked in water, where it begins to sprout. This process causes the grain to turn its store of starch into sugars, which will later feed the yeast to make alcohol. The barley is heated until dry to stop it germinating any further.
Barley is sometimes dried with peat, a natural fuel source dug from the land that if left for many thousands of years would eventually become coal. Peat gives the barley a smoky flavour which carries through into the whisky. The more peat used, the smokier the whisky will be.
Tomintoul whiskies are not made with barley that’s been dried with peat, so they aren’t smoky in flavour. The exception to this is our Tomintoul Peaty Tang, which we make in small batches twice a year using peated malt.
We take malted barley and grind it down in a mill so that it becomes coarse flour called “grist”.
THE MASH MIX
We take grist and mix it up with hot water in a large vessel called a “mash tun”. It becomes a porridge-like mixture that needs continuous stirring so that any soluble starch turns into sugars. A sweet, sugary liquid, called “wort”, is drained off in three batches.
We ferment the sweet, barley liquid using a technique very similar to brewing beer. First we cool it down so we can add the yeast which turns the sugar in the liquid to alcohol. The yeast gives off heat and carbon dioxide, creating large foamy bubbles. We end up with an alcoholic liquid that’s about 8-9 %ABV that we call “wash”.
THE SPIRIT BIT
The wash goes into copper pot stills, which are like large electric kettles. When carefully heated, the alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature than water. It rises up the still and we collect and condense it back into a liquid. We do this process twice, until we end up with “new make” spirit that is 69% ABV.
Not all new spirit that comes off the spirit still is good enough to meet our high standards and be matured. We choose only the purest middle part of the “run” to be collected in the “spirit safe”. It is now under the control of Her Majesty’s Customs & Excise and so has to stay locked. The first and last portions or “cut” of the spirit is re-distilled while the pure middle bit goes straight into casks to mature.
THE LONG SLEEP
Tomintoul lies in oak wood casks for many years before it goes into a bottle. It has time to soak in the flavour from the different layers of the wood. The wood is breathable, and 2% of the whisky evaporates from the cask each year. We call this “the angels’ share” (the sweet aroma of Tomintoul that fills the air around our warehouses is one of the best in the world). The pure, fresh air surrounding our distillery, the highest in Speyside, is unique, and this has a job to play in making the unique flavour of our whisky.
We only take Tomintoul whisky out the cask when we think it tastes perfect. Flavour and characteristics change over time. It’s very much about personal taste – you may find you particularly like one of our young whiskies or you might fall in love with something older.
EMBRACING THE EARTH
When we make Tomintoul we use many processes to ensure that very little gets wasted. We recycle the cold water that is used for cooling the hot vapour that rises from the spirt to heat the wort. It’s also mixed with the left over barley husks left behind from the mash to make syrup that’s used as cattle food. Anything left over after the second distillation makes great fertiliser for next year’s crop of barley. The environment that surrounds us can be tasted in every glass, which is why it’s as precious to us as every last drop of Tomintoul Single Malt Scotch Whisky.