Tomatin. This place is huge. So large, that they have extra equipment that is not in use and they let you climb around in it. Although I do hope to someday be a part of cleaning the washbacks and mashtuns, I will always say that Tomatin was my first time standing in one. You can only go into a previously used mash tun and the metal plates at the bottom were removed for safety reasons, but it still was pretty awesome. This makes you realize how big these really are. The reason for the “extra” equipment is due to ownership changes, market demand and overall economy of scale. At one time in the peak of demand in the 80’s they were making over 12.5 million liters of new make spirit. They are now making 2.5 million liters per year and are owned by a Japanese company named Takara Shuzo. Apparently, the reason for the purchase was because the owners really liked the Tomatin whisky. Must be nice to rescue a distillery for millions of dollars just because it is your favorite dram
More about Takara Shuzo. http://www.takarashuzo.co.jp/english/productguide/index.html They are quite the drinks company and you will see right away based on their website that their core range includes sake and schochu. Actually, Tomatin isn’t even listed under their brand page and is found under subsidiary companies. This company knows distillation though. They own multiple brands, import and distribute global brands within Japan and also make raw spirit for other sake brands. I would be curious to know how they hold up against Beam Suntory.
Tomatin receives 130,000 tons of malted barley per week. They typically run un-peated barley, but once a year will run a peated expression. They are one of the highest distilleries in Scotland, sitting at 350 meters above sea level. Due to this they get quite cold and a lot of snow. You will see cottages as you drive up the distillery road and most of the workers live on site for this winter/snow reason. They have two Porteus mills. I feel like they should sell the Porteus mill they aren’t using for good money since everyone wants them! Their mashtun and all washbacks are stainless steel. Three waters are run to get their wort and they run four mashes a day. They use dry yeast and have a 56 hour fermentation period. They claim that liquid yeast doesn’t survive as long. There are 12 washbacks in use and another 12 that aren’t and are used for holding cleaning materials. The wash stills are quite tall and have a long lyne arm and reflux bulge. The way the stills are arranged is quite different from most distilleries. They have a large warehouse and stills on each side. The wash and spirit still that will work together sit across from each other and not next to each other. They did not mothball any of the stills and use all that are on site and rotate them. Casks are filled on site and they use quite a range of barrel types, everything from sherry butts, port casks, bourbon and Caribbean rum casks. They have experienced coopers on site to mend casks and hold 174,000 casks at the moment at the distillery.
Tomatin also just went through a re-branding, which really needed to happen. They had some really terrible bottles and labels and now actually have a bottle shaped like a tomato. At least, I find it looking like a tomato. They are quite popular in the Asia, USA and France. Still, you will onlky find 40% of their whisky production going to single malt and the rest sold off to blends. I had a great tour guide named Charlie who loved whisky as much as I did. We ended up staying a bit longer after the tour finished and I was able to try over five different drams in the Tomatin range. I will list a few below…
Cu’Bocan- Non-Age Statement
Holly’ Tasting Note..
Nose: Mocha, tangerines, chocolate chip, creamy berries.
Palate: Toasted wood, cinnamon, toast with Nutella.
This was a great non age statement, but as an American, to be honest, I wanted it to taste like bacon. The pronunciation is like bacon and I wanted it so bad!
Tomatin 9 Year Old 2007 Caribbean Rum Cask
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Coconut oils, honey, peach, oily!
Palate: Mango, banana, cream pie with whip cream.
This was so delicious! Many people that claimed to not like whisky really liked this one. You can see the comparison of the bottle change below. The new bottles are on the left and the old is on the right.
Next up is Glen Ord aka “The Singleton of Glen Ord”..