To celebrate the launch of the third expression in the Five Virtues series, Earth, we decided to go the extra mile and give the famous North Coast 500 route, Scotland’s No.1 coastal adventure, a unique whisky theme. We have created the Tomatin Route 501 so you can bring the Five Virtues to life and take in stunning Scottish landscapes that reflect the elements and names of the five single malt whiskies – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.
We challenged North Blog adventurer Tristan Cameron-Harper to experience and capture the best of our new route. Starting with a visit to the Tomatin Distillery (of course!) for a tour and tasting session, the popular explorer sampled whisky at some of Scotland’s most picturesque locations and embarked on a series of challenges along the North Coast 500 route.
Will you take on the Tomatin Route 501 challenge?!
Explore the Five Virtues on the Tomatin Route 501
How to drive the route…
Jump in your car, hire a car, or even better hire a camper van for the true Route 501 experience -We highly recommend Cairngorm Campers, close to the start of the route at Tomatin Distillery!
Enjoy the softer side of the highlands whilst exploring our distillery and learn how we produce our award winning whiskies. Learn about the unique legacy of Tomatin which, having started in 1897, is the driving force for the company today. Since then we have been combining soft mountain water with tender local barely, introducing it to tall copper stills and – following years of maturation in oak casks – collecting the mellow, fruity spirit. Approaching alchemy, the process reveals nature’s extraordinary elements in all their glory. After a tour you will see first-hand how the elements influence our whisky, If you’re lucky enough not to be the designated driver at this point, you can experience a tutored nosing and taste session with a dram, or we will offer them to be taken away and enjoyed later.
Visit the picturesque Fairy Glenn Falls and wonder at the beautiful natural clean waters, the ethereal falls make the ideal backdrop for photos. The ‘Water’ expression from our Five Virtues Series similarly takes inspiration from the naturally pure soft water of the Alt-na-frith burn, which flows from the Monadhliath mountains down into the distillery, our own private water source drawn year-round
Visit the historic and scenic town of Tain, situated on the south shore of the Dornoch firth. Whilst there you can experience the art of manipulating fire through glass blowing at ‘Glasstorm’ who are renowned for creating bottles and tumblers for whisky. The ‘Fire’ expression from the Tomatin Five Virtues Series is exhibited through maturation in heavily charred oak casks, which having been fired before previous use, were stripped then re-fired stimulating new, fresh vanilla flavours. “We can really identify with the craftsmanship it takes to produce a rare and special dram and we can translate that to the time learned craft of glassmaking.” Brodie Nairn, Glasstorm.
Take a trip up to Helmsdale and try your hand at panning for gold in the Kildonan Burn, one of the many sites from the ‘Sutherland Gold Rush’ of 1869. However if you aren’t so fortunate in your attempt you could always enjoy a nip of our ‘Metal’ expression from the Five Virtues Series. The fourth expression is expressed by our 12 beautiful copper stills, through which every drop of Tomatin spirit flows, unique in shape and size thus giving our own distinctive characteristics.
At the Eastern end of Durness lies Smoo Cave. This dramatic cave allows visitors the chance, by foot or by boat, to experience an inside view of the earth moulded by time and nature into a dramatic piece of scenery. Earth, the third in the Five Virtues Series, is exemplified in an edition rich in intense – and unusually for Tomatin- peaty flavours, a consequence of maturing whisky made with peat-dried malted barley in refill Hogshead casks. Similarly to Smoo Cave, Earth is truly unique.
Experience one of the most beautiful locations in Scotland, Inverewe Gardens. Follow the pinewood trail into a lush oasis of plants and native woodland with Corsican pines planted over 100 years ago. Wood, the first and most significant virtue in the production cycle is embodied by the use of carefully selected French, American and Hungarian oak casks during maturation, representative of the many varieties of the 177,000 casks we hold in our 14 Warehouses.