Monday morning our group took a detour out of Speyside and visited Tomatin Distillery. We were welcomed by distillery genereral manager Graham Eunson, who took us around the distillery.
Tomatin might not be the most beautiful distillery in Scotland, but it has one of the most interesting tours. The giant warehouses when you enter the distillery grounds under the too small railway-bridge is almost breathtaking. The distillery has a feature I haven't seen in any other distillery. Back in the 70's, Tomatin had 23 stills and 2 mash-tuns, and were more like a twin distillery, two almost identical distilleries in the same building. After 1980 some of the stills were cut down and one of the mashtuns became redundant. It is now set up for display for people taking tours. There is a big hole in the side so you can actually climb inside to touch and see how a mashtun is laid out and works
Climb inside a mashtun at Tomatin
Tomatin Spirit Still
The stills at Tomatin has a peculiar setup. The wash and the beer stills are identical. The spirit safe is placed beneath the stills and the top of the stills are out of sight. So no windows on the washstills as you can't see them from the spirit safe anyway. From below, the stillman can ring a bell-like string to check the sound of the washstills and the corresponding head of the boiling wash.
Tomatin also features a small cooperage for repairing casks.
Casks ready to be filled
After the tour we had a tasting of the Tomatin core range, one of the strongest core ranges in the industry. Graham told us that it was the 18yo that convinced him to move to Tomatin. I totally agree, the 18yo was the eye openener for me as well. A bottle that draw my attention to this distillery. We had a wee taste of the new Legacy, which is a NAS Tomatin. It is a mix of ex-bourbon and virgin oak matured Tomatin. This is a very good complement to the core range. We also had a cask sample of a 6yo virgin oak matured Tomatin. Give me some of that please! That was delicious. Fresh, crispy, vanilla and minty
Thanks to Jennifer from Tomatin for arranging the tour and to Graham for taking the time to show us around.
After the tour we drove back to Speyside, having lunch in Muckrach Lodge near Dulnain Bridge on the way, it's a fantastic restaurant and absolutely worth a big detour.
Best lambchops I had in my life
Returning to Dufftown we had a couple of tasting left. The two tastings I had the biggest expectations for on the whole festival. And I wasn't dissapointed. These two tastings are essentials of why it's worth coming to Dufftown and Spirit of Speyside. The first tasting was presented by Donald Colville, Diageo's Global Brand Ambassador who brought some special treats for us. Donald, being a participator himself for many years, new enough about the festival to satisfy his customers for sure.
Mortlach SoS 2013 bottling
Donald served the following for us
Mortlach SoS 2013 festival bottling
Cragganmore 21yo 2010
Inchgower Rare Malt 27yo 1976
Talisker Port Ruighe
Caol Ila Feis Ile 2010
Way to go! Donald, 3 very new releases and 3 hard to find limited releases.
The Danish Drinking Team are tough to beat as we allready had a sample of the Inchgower in our cottage :-)
After this we had a wee break, which as usual was spent in the Royal Oak (They ran out of beer!).
The next tasting was a world premier, or something like that, of the new Cadenhead range. Cadenhead are going back to dumpy bottles and everybody knows that dumpy Cadenheads taste really good so I think it's a very clever decisison...
The tasting was presented by Mark Watt, who in an earlier life had hosted tastings for another company that always were among my favourite events. I wasn't dissapointed this year. From what we tasted the excellent Cadenhead range is getting even better
Look out for:
Creations 20yo Blend
Glenlivet-Minmore 1970 (Why not Glenlivet-glenlivet ?)
Highland Park 1988
After this we went to the dram party at the Whiskyshop Dufftown which is the perfect end to a great festival, it's a mini fair with last chances for some purchases, last chance to taste some whisky and talk to the other festival goers, at lot of usual suspects as always.
Sleepy tuesday morning in Dufftown