Tomintoul Distillery is located inside the picturesque Glenlivet estate, within the whisky producing region of Speyside. The distillery is named after the nearby village of Tomintoul, the highest village in the Highlands of Scotland.
Our Distillery Manager, Robert Fleming is a fourth generation distiller, born and bred on the Glenlivet estate.
It took us a year of searching for the purest source of spring water until we found the Ballantruan spring. This determined the location of the distillery, tucked away in picturesque countryside. The natural and unspoilt environment that surrounds us, and our focus on making great whisky, can be tasted in every glass of “the gentle dram”.
Tomintoul Distillery was built in 1964. Our distillery uses traditional techniques that stretch back hundreds of years, to make our award-winning single malt, “the gentle dram”. The natural environment, fresh air and pure water all add to our uniquely smooth and mellow spirit.
The Dream Team
Tomintoul Whisky is a testament to our Master Distiller, Robert Fleming, whose family has been making whisky in the Speyside Glenlivet region for four generations. He began working in the whisky industry in 1974, and worked for a number of different distilleries until coming to Tomintoul, where he has been for over 20 years. Robert is responsible for all aspects of production and is very passionate about making exceptional Scotch Whisky.
Our team at Tomintoul is like one big friendly family. Some have been with us since the beginning. We all share one big passion – all things Tomintoul Whisky!
From Earth to the Bottle
Tomintoul is made with natural ingredients. The pure spring water we use is drawn from The Ballantruan Spring. The water is so pure it took a year of searching different sources to find it. We mix this water with fresh barley and yeast, throw in some passion, skill and care, and then add a good dose of time.
Pure Barley Magic
The first stage in making Tomintoul Whisky begins with malting barley. It first needs to be soaked in water, where it begins to sprout. This process causes the grain to turn its store of starch into sugars, which will later feed the yeast to make alcohol. The barley is heated until dry to stop it germinating any further.
Barley is sometimes dried with peat, a natural fuel source dug from the land that if left for many thousands of years would eventually become coal. Peat gives the barley a smoky flavour which carries through into the whisky. The more peat used, the smokier the whisky will be.
Tomintoul whiskies are not made with barley that’s been dried with peat, so they aren’t smoky in flavour. The exception to this is our Tomintoul Peaty Tang, which we make in small batches twice a year using peated malt.
We take malted barley and grind it down in a mill so that it becomes coarse flour called “grist”.
The Mash Mix
We take grist and mix it up with hot water in a large vessel called a “mash tun”. It becomes a porridge-like mixture that needs continuous stirring so that any soluble starch turns into sugars. A sweet, sugary liquid, called “wort”, is drained off in three batches.
We ferment the sweet, barley liquid using a technique very similar to brewing beer. First we cool it down so we can add the yeast which turns the sugar in the liquid to alcohol. The yeast gives off heat and carbon dioxide, creating large foamy bubbles. We end up with an alcoholic liquid that’s about 8-9 %ABV that we call “wash”.
The Spirit Bit
The wash goes into copper pot stills, which are like large electric kettles. When carefully heated, the alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature than water. It rises up the still and we collect and condense it back into a liquid. We do this process twice, until we end up with “new make” spirit that is 69% ABV.
Not all new spirit that comes off the spirit still is good enough to meet our high standards and be matured. We choose only the purest middle part of the "run" to be collected in the "spirit safe". It is now under the control of Her Majesty's Customs & Excise and so has to stay locked. The first and last portions or “cut” of the spirit is re-distilled while the pure middle bit goes straight into casks to mature.
The Long Sleep
Tomintoul lies in oak wood casks for many years before it goes into a bottle. It has time to soak in the flavour from the different layers of the wood. The wood is breathable, and 2% of the whisky evaporates from the cask each year. We call this “the angels' share” (the sweet aroma of Tomintoul that fills the air around our warehouses is one of the best in the world). The pure, fresh air surrounding our distillery, the highest in Speyside, is unique, and this has a job to play in making the unique flavour of our whisky.
We only take Tomintoul whisky out the cask when we think it tastes perfect. Flavour and characteristics change over time. It’s very much about personal taste - you may find you particularly like one of our young whiskies or you might fall in love with something older.
Embracing the Earth
When we make Tomintoul we use many processes to ensure that very little gets wasted. We recycle the cold water that is used for cooling the hot vapour that rises from the spirt to heat the wort. It’s also mixed with the left over barley husks left behind from the mash to make syrup that’s used as cattle food. Anything left over after the second distillation makes great fertiliser for next year’s crop of barley. The environment that surrounds us can be tasted in every glass, which is why it’s as precious to us as every last drop of Tomintoul Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
The Cask Effect
All whisky casks are made from oak wood. It’s flexible, porous and breathable. The layers of wood give different flavours to the whisky over time. American oak wood gives notes of vanilla, while the difference in the grain of European oak wood gives notes of spice and fruit. Most casks used for maturing whisky are made from American oak wood and have previously matured bourbon. European oak casks are first used for maturing fortified wines like sherry and port. Brand new casks over-power the subtle flavours of Scotch Whisky, so it’s preferable to use “seasoned” casks that have held other types of alcohol.
Whisky hasn’t always been matured in casks, and the benefit of maturing it was actually discovered by accident. Legend has it that back in the days of illicit distilling, when stills were hidden away all over Scotland, one insignificant cask left forgotten led to shape the rich flavoursome spirit that we know today. Now new make spirit has to be matured for at least 3 years to legally be classified as Scotch Whisky.
Tomintoul Aged 10, 14, 16, 21, 33, 1976 Years and Tomintoul Vintage Single Cask are matured in ex-bourbon casks made from American white oak.
Tomintoul Aged 12 Years Oloroso is firstly matured in ex-bourbon casks, then “finished” for up to three years in European oak wood casks from Spain that have previously contained sherry.
We use ex-portwood casks from Portugal, also made from European oak, to finish Tomintoul Aged 12 Years Portwood Finish for up to three years.
The Best Bottle
Each finished bottle of Tomintoul Whisky is made by marrying together an expertly selected range of different casks. This allows us to ensure each bottle has the correct characteristics, best quality and flavour expected of each expression.
The exception to this is Tomintoul Vintage Cask, which is a single cask whisky, meaning it’s made from just one cask, selected by us for its wonderful flavour. Only a limited number of bottles of the Vintage Single Cask could be made, and the flavour can never be replicated again exactly.
Most Tomintoul whiskies have an age statement on the label. The age represents the very youngest whisky that has been used, even if other whiskies in the bottle are older. This is a legal requirement.
Older whiskies, matured for longer, often become more complex in flavour. Preference is largely determined by personal taste; you can find that you’ll fall in love with our whiskies at any age. All ages of Tomintoul Whisky are selected when our Master Distiller thinks they are just right, and each has a unique flavour profile.