The distillery at the ‘Hill of the Juniper’ – Tomatin – is neither among the prettiest distilleries in Scotland, nor is it breaking any records. But its location just south of Inverness makes it a popular destination for the many tourists who travel up into the Scottish Highlands from Edinburgh and Glasgow.
(All images Copyright Johann Brandstaetter, for terms image use please click here)
However, for many reasons the distillery is an interesting destination for whisky fans of all levels.
As you drive towards the distillery itself you pass through what looks like a little village. This settlement houses about 30 families of distillery workers. What a contrast to some of the sterile industrial distilleries of modern times!
Once upon a time, during it’s boom years, the Tomatin Distillery was the largest malt whisky distillery in Scotland. Nowadays, operations are somewhat scaled down, some of the stills were removed, others are not operated at present. Because the old mashtun was to large for the reduced production volume a new one was installed and the old one was cut open and is now accessible for visitors.
You actually can step into a gigantic mashtun and see everything from inside. How cool is that! An absolute highlight.
Tomatin is also one of the very few distilleries where you bring your kids on a tour. This led to a funny incident, as a tour guide told me. A little boy apparently became bored with the tour while the grownups where marveling at the copper pot stills, so he wandered off and found the nice big and coulourful touch screen that the still men use to control everything in the still house. After a few minutes of playing around he managed to open a valve and almost dumped a whole charge from one of the stills. Luckily, somebody noticed just in time! Otherwise all the good stuff might have ended up in the pot ale tank and the world would have lost a few bottles worth of excellent Tomatin single malt…
I will write a full review of this excellent distillery tour in the not too distant future but I can tell you already that I gave the Tomatin Distillery tour my highest rating (5 – outstanding). For now, enjoy the images!
Tours go from £7 (£5 if you are driving and don’t want to taste). You can find detailed information on the Tomatin website www.tomatin.com
N.B.: Depending on what kind of tour you are taking, you might have the chance to taste some very nice whiskies, among others the fantastic Antiquary 21 luxury blend.