The Tomatin distillery was commissioned in 1897, but whisky production on the site goes back to the 15th century. Illicit stills on and around the site warmed many a Highlander against the chill of the Monadhliath Mountains. Bought by a Japanese company in 1989, Tomatin remains the only Scottish distillery to be fully owned by Japanese interests.
Established in 1897 and Liquidated in 1906, Tomatin distillery got off to a pretty shaky start. It was reopened in 1909 by the Tomatin Distillery Company that continued to produce single malt for the blenders through its 2 stills until in 1956, someone had the bright idea to expand, and expand, and expand. By 1974 there were 12 stills banging out 2.5 million litres of malt, all of it going to the blenders. In 1986 Takara from Japan bought the Tomatin Distilling company. If you are worried that a foreign buy out has changed things, you only need to ask Iain Duthie, who has been with Tomatin since 1975 or Douglas Campbell, master distiller who has seen the changes since 1961! Yes there has been some changes, but according to them, only improvements. The hard work they have been doing is now being rewarded through the release of their labours as a single malt under the distillery name, rather than the fruits of their labour being blended off with cheap harsh grain spirit.
The water for this whisky comes down the Alt-na-Frith from the Monadhliath Mountains to the distillery which lying at 315m above sea level makes it the highest of the highland distilleries.
This whisky is beautiful. It is lifted and intense and flavoursome and balanced. There is said to be some peat, albeit just enough to add complexity and not sufficient to deter peat detesters (yes, there are some).
The palate is rich stewed pear and apples, with cinnamon and nutmeg. Rich and spicy.
At the finish there is a mild tannic drying to clean the palate ready for the next sip. It is a hard whisky to stop drinking, and is absolutely delightful just the way it is.