Sometimes you can feel jaded even by the things that you enjoy, whisky (surprisingly) it turns out is no different.
When I found myself frustrated by prices, bored of brands making up stupid releases and fed up of the humble bragging (See John Robins and Elis James’s XFM show for further explanation of that phrase – http://www.radiox.co.uk/radio/shows-presenters/elis-james-and-john-robins/) that exists within whisky, it was time for decisive and redemptive action.
It was time to plan a trip to Scotland.
So, @RealDramTom, @CKborrow and I bumped our heads together and made a plan. We wanted to head to Speyside, for whisky, fresh air and outside time. We booked flights to Inverness from our native Bristol, found the lovely Garmouth Hotel on AirBNB and set to planning our five-day whisky adventure.
First on our list, was a stop off at a distillery that we had little experience of, but had only ever heard positive things about, Tomatin. We signed up for the Legacy Tour, as it was the only one left unbooked at the time we could make it to the distillery from the airport. We were greeted warmly in the shop by the friendly staff and led off on a tour by the youthful and enthusiastic, Charlie.
There is nothing better than seeing the workings of a distillery that has character than when you are taken round by someone with a passion for the industry. Charlie, our guide, was warm, funny and talked about Tomatin and whisky with the perfect balance between information and entertainment.
Tomatin are owned by a large Japanese firm, but they seem to benefit from a very bottom up approach that allows them to be not stuffy, to give visitors access to all parts of the distillery and for the visitor to really gain access to the process.
My highlights of the tour were three-fold. Firstly, I always love standing next to the stills, but it was great to stand below the impressively industrial and clearly used stills. The second was glimpsing the still manual aspects of what appears on the surface to be a very streamlined process, a football to empty pipes and a rope to measure distillation distances. Lastly, standing in the dunnage and smelling the heady mix of soil, whisky and ageing wood.
Then back in the shop, we were treated to three drams from the core range and took the opportunity to try the lesser spotted cask strength whiskies that are available as distillery only treats. We finally settled on the Oloroso, bottled our own and took it away to enjoy at home.
For joy restoring humour, fantastically unfussy access and a great range of distillery only drams at good prices, we give it a 9/10.