Meet Julia MacKillop

Cù Bòcan

Cù Bòcan is an experimental Highland Single Malt that explores innovative finishes to create whiskies full of intrigue and surprise, distilled at Tomatin Distillery in the Scottish Highlands.

Made with lightly peated Scottish barley, Cù Bòcan is distilled every winter in limited batches and matured in a variety of casks to unlock unusual flavours, creating a subtly smoky and surprisingly sweet spirit. 

The Cù Bòcan Single malt range took home Gold at the 2022 San Francisco World Spirit Competition. Cù Bòcan Signature and Cù Bòcan Creation #3 were both awarded Double Gold and Cù Bòcan Creation #4 was awarded Gold. 

Cù Bòcan’s Senior Brand Manager joined Tomatin Distillery in 2017 and started managing the Cù Bòcan brand in late 2019. We caught up with her to find out what’s involved in the process of creating this award-winning Highland Single Malt.


Discover more here:

We caught up with Julia MacKillop, Cù Bòcan’s senior brand manager

What do you think is so special about the Cù Bòcan range / what sets it apart from other Highland Single Malts?

Cù Bòcan is unique in that it is only produced for a few weeks of the year, which is always in the winter following Tomatin Single Malt’s production run at Tomatin Distillery. This winter production coincided with incredibly low water temperatures which allow for faster distillate, and results in a slightly oilier mouthfeel. Cù Bòcan has been produced in small batches every winter since 2005. We use lightly peated Scottish barley, meaning every Cù Bòcan holds our signature wisp of smoke. Each edition is an exploration in the subtleties of smoke, the characters of the casks and the mastery of maturation. 


What are some of the interesting processes involved in creating Cù Bòcan? E.g., a variety of casks are used to create different flavours – how are these chosen?

We pride ourselves on being experimental, we like to explore innovative finishes to create whiskies full of intrigue and surprise. We have released world first Single Malts through our Creation series, such as Cù Bòcan Creation #2, the first Single Malt Scotch to use Japanese Shochu casks for maturation. 

We are continually on a journey of exploration when it comes to creating our Highland Single Malt. Our Blender and Global Brands Ambassador Scott is constantly on the lookout for new and interesting cask types, whilst also experimenting with different samples on-site to see what tastes incredible, and what we should release next.


What is your favourite way to enjoy Cù Bòcan?

My favourite way to enjoy Cù Bòcan is with friends! I enjoy the Signature expression neat; I find the subtle smoke with balanced sweetness is delicious on its own. However, on a hot summer’s day (not that we get many of them in the Highlands!) I enjoy Cù Bòcan with a splash of ginger ale and a cube of ice. Contrary to what some may have heard, there is no right or wrong way to enjoy whisky.


Is there opportunity to find out more about Cù Bòcan on the Tomatin Distillery Tour/Visitor Centre? 

Visitors to Tomatin Distillery Visitor Centre can sample the full Cù Bòcan range at our Hogshead Tasting Bar or join the Legacy tour and explore our distillery and learn how we produce our award-winning whiskies. You will be taken on a walk-through time, from our beginnings in 1897 through the height of production in the 1970s, to the present day. Finish with a tutored tasting of three of our single malts including Cù Bòcan Signature. Legacy tours run regularly throughout the day but please book in advance to guarantee your place at a time that suits you.