For full disclose my partner works for Tomintoul and I was invited to come along and help take photos during the evening. All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.
There’s always so many events to choose from over the Spirit of Speyside Festival that it’s almost impossible to know where to start! But here’s one I would definitely recommend the next time to anyone who is up for the festival.
The Fireside Sessions with Tomintoul takes place at the distillery and it’s also possible to add a bus transfer to your ticket which takes you to and from various places in Speyside like Aberlour, Craigellachie and Dufftown so that no-one has to be the designated driver. I think this is a brilliant thing to offer, especially since it can be difficult to get around, and this let’s everyone enjoy the evening without someone missing out on the atmosphere and proper experience. I’m surprised not many of the other distilleries offer this as well. Tomintoul is not a distillery you can normally visit, as it does not have a Visitor Centre so it can also be fun to take the opportunity to visit a distillery that is not as widely available as some of the others.
Upon arrival everyone was offered a welcome dram before going along for a little tour around the distillery. We were lucky that Master Distiller Robert Fleming was around and walked along whilst sharing his knowledge about the distillery. When we reached the still room everyone got hot toddies that had been prepared by Master Blender Iain Forteath as per his own recipe and there’s just something special about having a hot whisky drink in the still room with no-one else around evening time. The honey used for the toddy was also farmed by one of the distillery workers who has his own hives on the Tomintoul grounds.
Following the production chat and the hot toddies we all walked down towards the river Avon where two bonfires along with benches had been set up. During the evening we tried Tomintoul 16, Cigar Malt, 12 Sherry and Old Ballantruan along with spiced nuts and grilled marshmallows. There was also a cigar pairing for those who smoked, along with the Cigar Malt. But it’s also quite yummy on its own so very enjoyable without a cigar as well. As a really special treat we were also surprised by Robert Fleming who opened a bottle of The Robert Fleming Second Release 30 year old which he shared with the group. The expression is to celebrate his thirty years in the industry and it was an incredible moment to have Robert himself stand by the bonfire, with the river as a soft background sound, introducing this special release chosen by him. There was also a really sweet story as one of the women who work for Tomintoul put a little heart on one of the casks that they had found to be special so they could come back for it. A very moving moment.
I always find that there something particularly enjoying and experience enhancing about enjoying a dram outdoors – and especially in good company!
✦ Want to read more about distillery visits?