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Tomintoul distillery stands in the village of Ballindalloch, in the Speyside region of Scotland. Meaning ‘Hillock of the Barn’, the distillery shares its name with a nearby village, often said to be the highest in Scotland. At 345 metres above sea level however, Tomintoul is in truth, some way below the village of Wanlockhead in Dumfries and Galloway which stands at an impressive 410 metres.
The distillery was founded in 1964 as a joint project between Glasgow-based whisky firms Hay & MacLeod and W. & S. Strong but within less than a decade it had been sold to the Scottish and Universal Investment Trust. A year later, in 1974, the new owners doubled the sites capacity with the addition of two new stills and marked the occasion of the distillery’s 10th anniversary with the release of the first ever Tomintoul single malt bottling.
The distillery fell under the ownership of Whyte & Mackay in 1989 only for the Glasgow blending giant to be taken over themselves the following year. Despite this turmoil in ownership however, Tomintoul remained in production and continued to appear occasionally as a single malt with a 12 year old version released in 1990.
In the year 2000, Tomintoul was to change hands once more, when London blending company Angus Dundee were to enter the distilling industry for the first time. Based in London, Angus Dundee was founded in 1950 by Terry Hillman a former executive with scotch distilling giant Burn Stewart. Looking to establish a reliable supply for their blended scotch brands they acquired first Tomintoul and then Glencadam distillery in Brechin in 2003.
As well as providing a regular supply of spirit for their blends, Angus Dundee were keen to establish Tomintoul as a single malt brand in its own right and relaunched the label with a new 10 year old expression in 2000. This was soon followed in 2003 with a 16 year old and the range has since grown to include a vast array of malts from 12 to 15 to 25 and even 40 year old expressions.
Today however, some 19 years after its original release, the Tomintoul 10 year old continues to act as an introduction to this lesser-known Speyside distillery. Bottled at 40%, it retails at the budget friendly asking price of just £30.
Smell: Lots of Malt and Barley Sugar. Oatcakes and Vanilla Fudge with Honey, Green Apples and wild Berries.
Taste: Creamy Vanilla and dry Oak with a subtle touch of Pepper. Honey and Clotted Cream Fudge.
Value for Money: The palate doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the nose but it remains an enjoyable dram to sip on and credit must be given for the sensible pricing.
An everyday sipper that carries enough complexity to hold your interest for the duration of a dram and enough flavour to have you reaching for another when the glass is empty.
*If the whisky reviewed in this article has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make after following links from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.
For more on Tomintoul click here.