Tormore has a bold architectural design that is far removed from the less aesthetic industrial designs of Doig’s time. Doig had reused and adapted an E shape design for a number of his distilleries but Tormore is architecturally unique as a distillery, a bold and picturesque design by Sir Albert Richardson. I have heard some still houses being described as ‘cathedral like’ and that would certainly be an apt description for the huge, lofty internal space of this distillery with its tall arched windows flooding light in at either end. Even the on-site generator house is in a matching building with an ornate cupola and clock above it.
|Tormore Distillery and generator house, Craggan More rising behind|
The name Tormore translates as Big Hill, although Craggan More only rises to 476m so I’m not sure it is really fitting of the description within this mountainous area, and Ben Rinnes is not visible from here. The river running through the grounds is recorded as the Allt an Torra Mhòir (Burn of the Big Hill) and it flows from springs on the slopes of Craggan More, so the water would be the obvious and very apt influence for the distillery name. They actually record their water source as the Achvochkie Burn which is the name the Allt an Torra Mhòir becomes after it passes under the road and carries on down to meet the Spey.
The distillery was completed in 1960 and its founding company was Schenley International (MWYB 2011), a name not often heard around the whisky world today but once the owners of the Long John whisky brand, itself a name that once boldly adorned the front of the distillery. Today it is owned by Pernod Ricard through their whisky subsidiary Chivas Brothers. Tormore is not open to the public but Chivas tell me that the distillery has 8 stainless steel washbacks, a stainless steel full lauter tun, 4 wash and 4 spirit stills and an annual capacity of 3.7m litres of spirit. Their malted barley is unpeated and the whisky is matured mainly in bourbon casks in a mixture of racked, dunnage and palletised warehouses in the grounds behind the distillery.
There were originally just 4 stills but this was doubled in 1972 (MWYB 2011) and all the stills have purifiers attached for a lighter spirit. The still necks are bolted onto the bases by way of a collar rather than a continuous curved design and they have relatively short horizontal lyne arms to shell & tube condensers inside the still house. Almost all of Tormore’s production has been used in blended whisky and there is only one
|Tormore Distillery Gardens|
A time capsule shaped like a pot still and containing barley, water, oak staves and a large bottle of Long John whisky was buried in the distillery grounds, to be opened in 2060 a century after the distillery opened. Many times on this journey I have seen scant remains of where distilleries used to be but Tormore should certainly still be standing in 2060 as it is a category B listed building. It is also one of four Chivas distilleries set to be expanded after they announced new investment in production capacity in May this year, so hopefully it will still be in production then as well. If all else fails then a detailed ‘working’ model of the distillery is on display in The Scotch Whisky Experience in