A HIGHLAND distillery – the first such facility to become fully owned by the Japanese – has swept the boards at a prestigious international contest.

Tomatin notched up seven Double Gold wins, where all the panel judges marked it as gold, and four Gold awards at the San Francisco World Spirit Competition, which recognises exceptional products in the spirits industry.

A team of 40 experts make up the judging panel at the awards, which were founded almost 20 years ago, and “blind taste” all the entries.

This prevents brand reputation or bottling style affecting the final awards.

Tomatin’s core range won four Double Gold and three Golds, a new record.

The distillery’s travel range also came out on top with two Double Golds and a Gold and its 21-year-old American Exclusive single malt, released last year, scooped a Double Gold.

Graham Nicolson, Tomatin’s sales director, said: “This has been an amazing year for Tomatin. The fact that we’ve received a gold or double award for every whisky we entered is a fantastic achievement.

“I’m proud to say the Tomatin range excels at all levels.”

Tomatin fell victim to the slump in blended whisky sales in the 80s and was forced into liquidation in 1984.

Its biggest customer – Japan’s largest drinks producer Takara Shuzo Ltd – joined forces with trading company Okura and bought the distillery, forming the Tomatin Distillery Company in 1986 and creating the first fully Japanese-owned Scottish distillery.

From that time it has gone from strength to strength.

The core range starts with the entry level Tomatin Legacy at £30 a bottle, and extends to the exquisite Tomatin 36-Year-Old, slightly pricier at £600.

Distillery manager, Graham Eunson, said: “Over 3000 spirits were judged at this year’s awards, and to triumph across the board is a big accomplishment for the distillery team. Our wood policy is second to none; we produce a high-quality spirit which develops into exceptional whisky through maturation in the right casks, these awards prove that we’re amongst the best in the world.”

Tomatin’s 30-Year-Old, the latest addition to the core range, was also awarded World’s Best Design at the World Whisky Awards, in London, the distillery’s first dedicated “design” win at this event.