A settlement built to stop illicit whisky

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This “model village” was built in 1775 by Alexander Gordon the 4th Duke of Gordon, 20 years after the military road by William Caulfeild appeared – now the A939.

Although Gordon encouraged the production of linen, the locals stuck to agriculture, growing vegetables and raising cattle.

Tomintoul is built on a grid pattern with a long high street and central square. The idea of having a village here was to discourage the illicit stills. It’s often referred to as the highest village in the Scottish Highlands, which incidentally include Moray!

Estimates suggest that in the early 1700s there had been up to 200 illicit stills in the Livet glen, with spirits smuggled out over the Ladder hills. In 1820, some 14,000 illegal stills were confiscated annually in the Livet glen area.

One of the first legal distilleries set up was a small operation in 1824 which eventually became The Glenlivet distillery, now known all over the world.

Don’t miss the ‘Still’ Art Sculpture, perched on the hill side to the north of the village. A mirrored cube that reflects the vast landscape around you when you stand inside it.

Cairngorm Dark Skies

Tomintoul is inside the farthest north Dark Sky park. This means that it is one of the best places to view the night sky. This is due to the low occurrence of light pollution. About a mile from the village, Tomintoul is one of the remotest places, hence the prevalence of illicit stills as mentioned earlier!

The village has also had special lighting installed which minimises the pollution coming from them. See more on our dark skies page.

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Parking on-site or nearby Children welcome Cyclists welcome Motorcyclists welcome Disabled-friendly Walkers welcome

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