Latest update: May 18th 2012
TOMATIN DISTILLERY PICTURES
The pictures in the slide show at the right, were taken by Frans Brouwer – The Whisky Friend. The pictures are used with kind permission from him.
In 1996, I visited the Tomatin distillery. Now 12 years later, I paid another visit to the Tomatin distillery and I was surprised by what I saw.
Tomatin is not really a famous distillery, this is a point that distillery manager, Douglas Campbell, shared with me without any question. Even more strangely, where a lot of distilleries are enlarging their company to produce more whisky, Tomatin since my last visit took out a number of stills. They had 23 stills, but are left now with 12 stills. 1 mill and 1 mashtun have become obsolete because of this are still standing on their spot, waiting for the time that they will have to make place.
And yet, Tomatin is working on a future that looks better than you would expect 12 years ago. They may produce less spirit, but made that decision because they wanted to get away from quantity and have more attention for quality. And with everything that they are doing it looks as if they are pulling that off. Whether it is their Tomatin single malt, or their blends Antiquary, Talisman and Big T, or even their cream liqueur Culloden, it is getting their full attention and sales seem to underline that they are doing the right thing.
When I visited the distillery, they were in their silent period. Not much to see, or yes, in fact I was quite pleased that they were in their silent period. During the tour that I got from Douglas Campbell, I was allowed to bring my camera along and make some pictures inside the distillery. The only parts of the distillery that were actually running were the filling store and the cooperage. In the filling store they were busy to cask spirit that they received from one of their competitors and that they bought to add to their own blends. The cooperage still had a lot of casks that needed mending, so no silent season there.
One of the things that is remarkable, the distillery doesn’t bottle their own whiskies. However, before bottling, the whisky is blended at the distillery and then shipped out for bottling.
The Tomatin distillery still owns all the houses on their property and the personnel is still living there, forming their own community.
And although the distillery is rather large, and owned by a Japanese company, they see themselves as a small company that has to fight for their place in the whisky-world against their larger competitors. They even are look at some finishes at the moment, but sadly enough, just like the vintages that they bottle, these will mostly go to Japan.