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Distilled Spirits: Tomatin Cù Bòcan Vintage 2005 Single Malt

A vintage release of smoky Cù Bòcan single malt from Tomatin from the year in which the distillery first started distilling a small amount of peated malt each year. (The 1988 vintage Cù Bòcan was produced using Islay casks as opposed to lightly peated malt). Matured for over 11 years, 11,400 bottles have been produced.

Nose: Butterscotch, toffee apples and honey are met with a hint of vanilla that binds these big sweet flavours together. The faint smoke of heather burning lingers in the background throughout. In time, chilli infused chocolate, lemon syrup and a very slight hint of smoked bacon emerge.

Palate: A burst of candy floss and birch sap sweetness is complimented by a gentle touch of peat smoke which brings a rounded earthy note to the taste. Dark chocolate, winter spice and poached fruits leave a warming suggestion of Christmas pudding.

Finish: Rounded and full. The combination of sweet and smoke is left to evolve on the palate with soft fruits continuing to play a role.

Tomatin Distillery

The origins of whisky production in Tomatin are hard to be precise about – the formal distillery which operates today was established in 1897 but there is reason to believe that whisky production, albeit illegal, has been an important part of life in the area around Tomatin since the 1700s.

The name itself gives an insight into this secret past: “Tomatin” translates to “Hill of the Juniper Bush”, as juniper wood gives off no smoke while burning it has long been a favourite of illicit distillers who must keep their practice secret. Today, a building known locally as “The Old Laird’s House” still remains on the site of the current distillery and it is believed that this is the spot where the cattle drovers taking their livestock from the north of Scotland to the central markets would stop and fill their flasks from an illicit still.

However, it was only in 1897 at the peak of the Victorian Whisk Boom that three men, John MacDougall, John MacLeish and Alexander Allan, along with a handful of investors,
decided to open a formal distillery on the site and form The Tomatin Spey District Distillery Ltd.

The chosen location may have been inspired by the history of illicit distillation on the site, however, despite being very isolated (Tomatin is over 1000 feet above sea level on the eastern edge of the Monadhliath Mountains), it was also a very practical location; next to a newly opened rail line, not far from a market- it lies just over 18 miles south of Inverness – and on the Alt na Frith (meaning ‘free burn’) which provided a perfect source for soft, Highland water.

http://www.tomatin.com/home/

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