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HomeWhiskeyTomatin Distillery and Tomatin Cask Power | Malt

Tomatin Distillery and Tomatin Cask Power | Malt

Tomatin Distillery celebrates 125 years. Based in 1897, it’s not one of many oldest distilleries that hail from the origins of authorized distilling between the 1820s and 1830s, nor those who declare dates prior such at Balblair (over 100 years earlier).

Tomatin has had a wealthy and attention-grabbing historical past. It was inbuilt a subsequent wave of distillery building throughout which 39 new distilleries have been constructed in a single decade, together with Aberfeldy, Dufftown, Tamdhu, Dalwhinnie, Glenesk, Glen Moray, Imperial, and Benromach. This era of speedy development is named the Whisky Bubble. Within the yr that Tomatin was based Pattinson’s whisky firm spent the equal of £2m in promoting and £6m the next yr (in at present’s cash). Pattinson’s promoting stunts included offering 500 African Gray parrots to pubs and grocers which have been taught to squawk “Purchase Pattinson’s Whisky!” The Whisky Bubble was burst by the collapse of Pattinson’s and different whisky firms in 1898. The crash was so extreme that no additional distillery building occurred for 49 years.

On June 12, 1897, it was reported within the Highland Information that the Tomatin Spey Distillery had been registered in Edinburgh as a joint inventory firm – with capital of £12,000 in £10 shares – by John Macleish, John Macdougall, and Alexander Allen. The unique building was designed by Alexander Mackenzie, architect of Kingussie distillery (Speyside) and Dalwhinnie. The positioning was distant, and to probably the most Western fringe of the Nice Distillery District of Scotland (the yellow arrow close to no. 18, above). The event of an Aviemore to Inverness railway line being key to the logistics for the positioning was famous in Distillers, Brewers and Sprit Retailers Journal on the time. The water is taken from the Alt-na-Frith or Free Burn, and cooling water from the River Findhorn.

In 1901 The Distillers, Brewers and Spirit Retailers’ Journal reported that the worth of “new whisky” from Tomatin was 3 shillings and 6 pence per bulk gallon, or roughly £14 in at present’s cash. The desk is recreated beneath, because the comparative pricing between completely different distilleries ought to be of curiosity to many at present:

The primary monetary woes of the distillery have been reported in 1906, with a petition to the Second Division of the Court docket in Session Edinburgh for the winding up of the Tomatin Spey District Distillery and utility for a Supervision Order. The trigger was the non-payment of money owed to their coal retailers, the distillery having ceased manufacturing the earlier yr. By June 1906 the distillery home was supplied for lease, with the bonus of free fishing and golf for any tenant. By October the entire distillery was on the market by Public sale. It appears it went unsold till later.

It’s recorded in January 1909 the distillery was again in full manufacturing below the auspices of the New Tomatin Distillery Firm Ltd, a enterprise arrange by profitable native grocers and service provider firm based mostly in Inverness. The distillery was working with simply two stills and producing roughly 50,000 proof gallons a yr.

Tomatin is basically quiet within the press for 40 odd years, with the occasional crime, civic assembly, and divorce passing with out a lot be aware. Though, the distillery locale was repeatedly reported as vital supply of sturdy lambs and ewes throughout the interval. Two World Wars handed with seldom a point out. When manufacturing began once more after World Warfare II the manufacturing was solely 120,000 proof gallons each year on the identical two stills.

By the late Fifties the distillery is once more in honest fettle, with future manufacturing utterly presold till the top of the last decade and vital funding in rising their output. Tomatin Distillers went public in 1958. The sustained development continued into the early Sixties, at which era the manufacturing from Tomatin was near that of Glenlivet distillery. Tomatin expanded all through the Sixties with new stills and warehousing throughout the positioning to achieve an annual output of two,000,000 proof gallons from eleven stills. By the top of the Sixties Tomatin was the biggest malt distillery in Scotland.

In 1970 a shock takeover bid was made by Distillers Co Ltd. The takeover was resisted by Tomatin, who identified that DCL had oversold spirit from their 42 distilleries and have been 5,000,000 proof gallons of recent malt whisky quick in 1970. Tomatin profitable fended off the tried acquisition, nevertheless it was not lengthy earlier than a provide take care of Takara Shuzo Co. of Kyoto, Japan laid the foundations for the route of Tomatin Distillery at present.

Income remained sturdy for Tomatin all through the early Nineteen Seventies, with a powerful drive for worldwide development at a time when home gross sales have been stagnating. The early Nineteen Seventies noticed the distillery output increase to 4,750,000 gallons in November 1974, bringing the overall variety of stills on web site to 23. On the time the corporate was aiming for a complete manufacturing of 10,000,000 gallons, solely restricted by the capability of the native burn (the Alt-na-Frith) that supplied the water for the mashing. It will have required an additional 23 stills to achieve 10,000,000 gallons.

In the direction of the top of the Nineteen Seventies there was a major slowing within the earnings of Tomatin Distillers. Manufacturing was right down to as little as 2,000,000 proof gallons by the top of the monetary yr ended March 1977. By 1978 the press mentioned the involvement of Japanese companies within the Scotch trade, noting that firms equivalent to Suntory had proven curiosity in a number of Scottish distilleries however had not bought any. The Aberdeen Press and Journal famous in 1978 that Japanese shoppers can be shocked to search out out simply how a lot of their “Japanese” whisky was, actually, Scotch. It will take virtually 50 years for rule adjustments to halt the sale of Scotch bought as Japanese Malt Whisky.

Within the winter of 1978 there was appreciable snowfall, inflicting among the warehouse roofs to break down. It was additionally reported that the experimental eel farm utilizing waste warmth from the distillery had been impacted by the chilly. Roughly 10 tons of eels died when the distillery heating failed. Regardless of the setback, the experiment was profitable and the waste warmth from the distillery can be used within the second stage of growth, with 100 tons of eels shipped stay or frozen to markets in Europe, America, and New Zealand every year.

The Nineteen Eighties weren’t a great time for any Scotch producers and by 1981 Tomatin was making vital losses. The corporate had taken a authorities rescue mortgage and bought off 20% of their shares to Heineken group. An absence of orders pressured a 50% reduce in manufacturing, which had already been nicely beneath capability, the 1981 manufacturing having been simply 700,000 gallons.

The losses continued yr on yr till firm shares have been suspended in December 1984 and the enterprise went into voluntary liquidation, the primary distilling firm to take action since World Warfare II (though many had mothballed distilleries right now). The Aberdeen Press and Journal famous that the Hogmanay bells could have a “hole ring” for these employees at Tomatin.

In apply, manufacturing was solely halted for a handful of weeks earlier than the liquidator restarted manufacturing pending sale of the distillery. In February 1986 it was confirmed that Takara Shuzo Co. and accomplice Okura and Co. had created an organization to purchase Tomatin, each Japanese firms having a longstanding relationship with the Tomatin distillery.

The acquisition marked the primary distillery in Scotland to be bought by Japanese pursuits. Not everybody was delighted; one correspondent, a Mr Smith of Kerymor Tavern, Kirriemuir felt that the Scotch Whisky Affiliation ought to have purchased Tomatin and “levelled it to the bottom” as a means of addressing the oversupply drawback within the trade. One other, G. Borthwick of Alexandria, decried the “decide of our trade being pirated by wealthy predators furth of Scotland but once more.” Liberal MPs spoke with grave concern concerning the influence bulk export of Scotch was having on the nationwide trade. In 1986 the deal was permitted by the UK Authorities. Nikka purchased Ben Nevis in 1989. Suntory bought Bowmore, Auchentoshan, and Glen Garioch distilleries in 1994.

In 1987 the distillery customer centre was marketed, and has proved a profitable growth ever since. Conveniently positioned off the A9 on the route North in the direction of Inverness and the Northern Highlands, the amenities have been renovated in 1992 with a goal of attracting 50,000 guests a yr. They have been opened by smashing a bottle of 25 yr outdated Tomatin single malt with a Cooper’s hammer.

Throughout the early Nineties manufacturing continued to say no at Tomatin because the stability between provide and demand was dialled in additional successfully. The general goal was to keep away from the wild variations that had seen the growth and bust cycles over the earlier century. Nonetheless, Tomatin was nonetheless producing 10% of all malt whisky in Scotland.
In 1996 Tomatin Distillery Firm was in sufficiently positive well being to amass the Antiquary Deluxe whisky model. In 1996 the mix retailed for £21.49 per bottle; at present the NAS model might be discovered for simply £19.94 on Grasp of Malt, very a lot bucking the development of single malt over the identical interval.

The rest of the Nineties noticed regular however low manufacturing from the distillery till 2002, when the choice was made to scale back the variety of stills from 23 again to the 12 that are nonetheless used for manufacturing at present. It’s understood that the Japanese homeowners have taken a largely hands-off method to the distillery, maybe offering extra restraint than earlier incumbents, with only a few different adjustments made this facet of the millennium (bar the annual distillation of peated malt for the Cu Bocan vary).

In 2022 – the 125th Anniversary yr – the celebrations started in fairly muted trend. A newly designed field for the signature 12 yr outdated single malt got here first. Then – extra flamboyantly – a 1993 single Oloroso sherry cask was launched at an eye-watering £695. This was clearly priced to make sure availability proper as much as the top of the yr. Gordon and MacPhail have a 1989 32 yr outdated for the same worth; Douglas Laing have a 25 yr outdated bottled just a few years in the past. nonetheless sitting on just a few cabinets for £250.

Tomatin additionally not too long ago introduced the oldest Tomatin ever launched at 50 years outdated. This, too, is an oloroso cask, and can set you again £17,500 plus delivery. In contrast to all the opposite Tomatin bottles which you’ll “purchase,” their status vary can solely be “acquired.”

The largest curveball was the discharge by the Tomatin Distillery Firm of a Shirakawa 1958 Japanese whisky – from an virtually unknown and now closed Japanese distillery – the earliest identified classic of any Japanese whisky bottled. Data could be very restricted concerning the parcel of whisky which produced 1,500 bottles, nevertheless it seems to have spent a while in metal containers and a while maturing in 350 Japanese oak casks. This bottle will set you again £25,000 plus delivery and insurance coverage.

Each (fairly frankly vulgar) releases will likely be out there to style completely on the London Whisky Present for simply an additional £350 over-and-above your major present ticket worth. That’s nice for anybody who can’t perceive what the “price of residing disaster” is all about. Let’s hope the £37,500,000 that will likely be produced from this whisky will likely be used to assist maintain the core vary reasonably priced for the remainder of us!

By the use of concluding this piece, and consistent with my dedication to assessment extra core-range merchandise and work my means by these core vary whiskies at Tomatin, such on the Legacy and 12 yr outdated, I’ve a assessment of the Tomatin Cask Power together with three different equally aged, reasonably priced Tomatin casks from impartial bottlers.

Tomatin Cask Power – Assessment

Bourbon and sherry casks. 57.5% ABV. £50.

Color: Pale gold.

On the nostril: Clean, delicate, wealthy toasted sugar, fig, giving strategy to extra fruity Tomatin sprit character with juicy apples, ripe pears. A slight char be aware giving BBQ pineapple and Brûlée tops.

Within the mouth: Wealthy toffee, floor dates, milk chocolate dipped orange peel, toffee popcorn, contemporary mint, Moffat toffee, nutmeg. With water the expertise is extra rounded and balanced.


I used to be barely nervous for this expression. I assumed that the sherry casks can be the identical for the 12 yr outdated, with this bottled youthful, maybe 8 years, and at fuller power. Nevertheless, I actually don’t get any of the off-notes I discovered with the 12 yr outdated. It is a clean and rounded however but additionally massive, wealthy, and daring, delivering a great deal of flavour from the sherry casks while additionally providing balanced spirit. It is a cracking dram.

Rating: 7/10

Cadenhead’s Genuine Assortment Tomatin 2009 – Assessment

Single bourbon cask 2009 to 2022. 54.1% ABV. £50.

Color: Weathered straw.

On the nostril: Malty with a contemporary zing of inexperienced apple and a powerful natural be aware with mint and candied tarragon. Grist and dusty gravel, caramel or toffee penny, orange marmalade, buttery. Water brings richer oilier and extra fragrant traits; a little bit extra orange and malt and rather less natural.

Within the mouth: Malty and vivid, apple sauce, mineral mud, vanilla and toffee, water brings out all the core flavours with extra vanilla and oak spices, a dry end of medium size.


That is what Cadenhead’s are finest at: unadulterated high quality bourbon cask whisky at a pure power. It’s such a disgrace that shares and administration are forcing them in the direction of cask finishes, nevertheless it’s additionally honest to say this type of whisky is just not a fast vendor. Probably it’s going to nonetheless be out there together with different Tomatin releases on the web site. Overlooking a Cadenhead’s Tomatin is normally a mistake.

Rating: 8/10

Thompson Brothers Tomatin 2008 – Assessment

2008 classic, 14 years outdated. Refill bourbon hogshead adopted by a cognac barrique end. 50% ABV. £60.

Color: Pale gold.

On the nostril: Wealthy toasted sugar, yeasty funk, hoppy, baked pastry, toffee apple, cinnamon, baking spices, very typical Tomatin and spirit ahead however with layers of richness over the fruity base.

Within the mouth: Mild, virtually skinny, apricot Danish, buttered toast with brown sugar, brioche, sharp and bitter lemon rind, with water there are extra baking spices, baked apple, steamed syrup sponge pudding, golden raisins, custard lotions.


Charmingly illustrated by Katie Guthrie with these eels of which tens of hundreds of tons have been presumably produced subsequent to the distillery. Now I hear many hundreds of thousands of bees reside subsequent door. I wished this to be an indication of every part that the Tomatin French Assortment Cognac End was missing, and in addition an indication that just a few extra share factors in ABV would have helped. Ultimately it doesn’t ship as anticipated. It’s tremendous yeasty; I’d have guessed a beer cask blind, and a little bit bitter. It’s attention-grabbing; difficult, however not scrumptious.

Rating: 5/10

The Whisky Barrel Originals Tomatin Apollo 12 “SCE to AUX” – Assessment

Launched as a part of the House collection of impartial bottlings, “SCE to AUX” tells the story of after they needed to change off Apollo 12 and again on once more. 10 years outdated, 2011 classic. 56.4% ABV. £45

Color: Toffee.

On the nostril: Raisins, crushed pink grapes, furnishings polish, outdated vintage oak, treacle toffee, arduous butter toffees, mint, darkish chocolate, heat apple pie.

Within the mouth: Chocolate ganache, baked fig with manuka honey, chocolate digestive biscuit, darkish chocolate Florentines, raisins, espresso espresso, water brings the disparate notes collectively in a heat effervescent vat of chocolatey fruitiness and occasional, with an extended spicy end.


Properly, this whisky has nothing to do with house. It’s definitely not stellar, nor does it resemble Tomatin a lot, with the cask bombarding the spirit and taking up. It’s a very fashionable whisky type, definitely a sherry bomb, and luckily the sherry cask is delivering very tasty flavours and not one of the off notes they’re susceptible to. Many will love this very nicely priced whisky, however for me it’s a…

Rating: 5/10



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