Today ( 1-6-16) I had the extreme pleasure of visiting Tomatin distillery, I have had this distillery earmarked for a visit ever since I reviewed the bottle your own cask series late last year, I arranged a visit and sat back and waited for today to come. I have been looking into the distillery for the last 6 months, but I really was not expecting what I found today, we always use the term ” this is a way of life” but this really is, as you enter the site you see a small village, these houses belong to the distillery and are let out to the workers, so it really is a small knit community,around 75% of the workers live here.. Every one I came across had a big smile and every one was extremely polite and friendly ( a real asset to the owners) . Once I arrived at the visitor centre I was greeted by Louise( visitor centre manager) a big smile and friendly welcome started the day off and I was then introduced to Shelagh who again was extremely polite and friendly and sorted everything out. The tour was a private tour with Scott who was extremely friendly and very knowledgeable and kindly tailored the tour to what I wanted to see, so thanks go out to Scott for this.. Some of the things I did not know about the distillery included they have an onsite cooper ( Bart )
and after a short chat with him I found out he had worked as a cooper for 12 years and hopefully will have many more years to go, he is the only cooper so has his work cutout and as he was busy I did not want to take up too much of his time.. Also on the tour we had the opportunity to talk to Kevin ( still man) he was 2 nd generation at the distillery after his father had spent 40 years in the business, he gave me a nice explanation about the computerised side and you could see the pride he had for his job ( thanks Kevin) he told me there are currently 12 stills but only 10 in use, 6 are wash stills and 4 spirit stills but all are more or less the same size, and at one point the building actually held 23 stills.
Some other information to this point is..
The distillery is producing around 2.5 million ltrs and has a 9 week silent season, there are 10 malt bins each holding 500 tons of barley which at the moment is 100% Scottish, again a Porteus mill is in operation which was installed in 1974 and can crush 8.2 tons of barley every 90 mins.. There are 12 wash backs all around 42,600 ltrs each and all stainless steel, there is a 54 hour fermentation.
So back to the tour, once the production side had been covered I was taken into a dunnage warehouse that held some real gems, some of the oldest casks were in here, and I can only imagine what these casks were hiding inside.. ( I want to be an angel in here) .. The site has both racked and dunnage warehouses and holds around 170,000 casks all off which are destined for single malt.. Then the time came to enjoy some of the delights that I know the distillery has to offer. We tasted the bottle your own range and some new make, the casks included in the tasting were..
Virgin oak, cask 69, from 2006 and bottled at 60% cask strength.
Bourbon cask 2592, from 2003, this was a first-fill and is bottled at 57% cask strength.
A first fill oloroso cask, from 2002, cask number 2036 and bottled at 57% cask strength.
A Pedro Ximenez finished cask that spent the first 10 years in bourbon and the last 4 years in the px cask, this was bottled at 55.8% cask strength.
Finally we had a 1990 first fill American oak cask that was bottled at 54.4% abv..
It is hard to think just over 10 months ago I did not know too much about this distillery never mind not having taste anything from them, little did I know what I was missing, this is my little gem, my precious… I will never overlook this malt again, it is now firmly embedded in my top few malts produced.. If you don’t know this malt, then get out there and ger acquainted.. You will not regret it !
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the distillery and Scott fraiser who helped me sort this tour and has helped me all the way.. To all the team my sincere gratitude to you all for the extremely warm welcome and fantastic day.. Thank you..