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Tomatin (pronounced: toh-MAA-tin) is a truly curious beast, and 'beast' is the right word because Tomatin is one of the largest distilleries in Scotland in terms of production capacity. At one point in the 1970s it had an output of 12 million litres of new make and was veritably churning it out. Things have changed since then and Tomatin have dropped a few stills and now operate at less than half their 5 million litre capacity. What is interesting is that, despite truly massive expansion in the late 60s, the spirit they produced during this era, even during the days of plus 20 stills, was actually a beautifully green, fruity, luscious and flavoursome whisky. One that even to this day is maturing well and providing us with many outstanding bottlings.
Stills: 12 Wash 11 Spirit
Water Source: Allt Na Frithe Burn
Capacity: 5 Million Litres
Owners: Takara Shuzo
1965-Present: An Ever Changing Distillery
Tomatin was already expanding in 1965, it had had ten stills since 1961. By the time the maltings were dismantled in 1974 the distillery would have 23 stills and be producing 12 million litres per year. This was massive and encroaching on previously unknown production territory in terms of malt production in Scotland. Despite this, many of the aged Tomatin bottlings from this time are excellent drams, fruity and lush in the classic Speyside style with lots of wax, honey, chocolate and touches of menthol and mead.
The best examples from these transitional years are fairly numerous, bottlers like Duncan Taylor, Douglas Laing, The Whisky Agency, Signatory, Sestante, Jack Wieber and the distillery themselves have all bottled outstanding examples of the make.
In recent years Tomatin has lost some of its fruit driven luster, however it has compensated with a typical richness and elegant malty complexity. Whether this is down to the fact the number of stills has been reduced and the output of the distillery more than halved is anyone's guess. What's for certain is that Tomatin is a fine dram and recently repackaged official bottlings are showing it to be a continuously excellent whisky. One that maybe one of the big hits of the future if enough people realize what a great whisky it is.