Cù Bòcan single malt is only produced in the winter with lightly peated malted barley, as a matter-of-fact production for 2022 has just started here at Tomatin Distillery, with mashing underway and distilling due to take place next Monday (6th) which should last until Friday 17th of December. But WHY only in the winter you may ask? Why lightly peated barley? Well, they are both excellent questions, and we don’t want you to spend another minute wondering so please do read on…

As a highland distillery, Tomatin Distillery actually became one of the first producers to move away from peat as we expanded rapidly in the post war years, which was quite uncommon at the time in the Highlands and Speyside regions. From that point, our production focus shifted and we excelled at producing a lighter, fruitier style of single malt.

However, as a whisky blender as well as a single malt producer we also required a supply of peated spirit. Up until the early 2000s we would buy this from other distilleries but with the rise of the single malt category, the cost of this spirit started to increase. So, in late 2005, after we had achieved our annual production quota for Tomatin Single Malt and other blends within the distillery portfolio, our distillery manager at the time brought in a load of lightly peated barley allowing us to produce our very own peated spirit for the last week of the year.

This production coincided with incredibly low water temperatures which allow for faster distillate condensation, and results in a slightly oilier mouthfeel in the new make spirit. We then matured this spirit in three different cask types initially, Bourbon, Oloroso Sherry and Virgin Oak. Recognising the quality of this spirit, we continued to produce small batches of lightly peated spirit every winter from 2005 and then nearly a decade later, in 2013, Cù Bòcan was born.

By distilling slowly in large copper pot stills (designed to create a lighter, fruitier spirit) as well as taking an early distillation cut, our distillers are able to masterfully balance the subtle smoke from the malted barley with a surprising sweetness.

So there you have it, a bit of an experiment really. You can see why it only makes sense to then take Cù Bòcan’s subtly smoky and sweet spirit and mature it in an even wider variety of casks, to unlock unusual flavours and open up the world of lightly peated whisky.

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