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Issue 110 - Uncompromising Style

Whisky Magazine Issue 110
March 2013


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Uncompromising Style

Gavin D. Smith visits the heart of Angus Dundee's blending operation

From an architectural perspective, history has not judged the 1960s kindly. The decade that is forever associated with high rise housing and soulless shopping centres also spawned a number of new Scotch whisky distilleries that are most politely described as uncompromising in their style.

Some of them looked more like factories than the popular notion of a Highland malt distillery, as epitomised by the likes of Edradour and Strathisla, however that was the whole point. They were effectively factories; whisky factories intended to provide the malt components of the blended Scotches that were becoming ever more popular in the USA.

In a number of instances, the industrial nature of the new distilleries was heightened by contrast with the beauty, and even majesty, of their surroundings. Tomintoul is a perfect case in point.

The distillery was constructed during 1964/65 by Tomintoul-Glenlivet Distillery Ltd, which was a company set up by whisky blenders and brokers Hay & Macleod & Co Ltd and W&S Strong & Co Ltd. The site, on the east side of the River Avon and in the valley between the Glenlivet Forest and the hills of Cromdale, was selected after a year's search for the optimum water source, with the Ballantruan Spring eventually serving this purpose.

The location, in the parish of Glenlivet and six miles from the village of Tomintoul – pronounced Tom-in-towel and meaning ‘hill like a barn' in Gaelic – is spectacular, but Tomintoul is the highest settlement in the Highl...

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