Highlands & Islands

Tomatin: Whisky firm tries to stop hotel using village name

Tomatin distillery Image copyright Alamy Stock Photo
Image caption Tomatin Distillery said it wanted to protect its brand

A place name in the Highlands is at the centre of a dispute between a whisky distiller and a hotel developer.

Tomatin Distillery in Tomatin is opposed to The Tomatin Trading Company using the small village's name for its planned development in the community.

The distillery's owners have raised the case at the Court of Session.

Businessman William Frame said notice of the legal action had come as a "bombshell" and said his hotel would bring much needed jobs to the area.

Tomatin is a community of about 200 people south of Inverness.

Last November, Mr Frame's The Tomatin Trading Company secured planning permission from Highland Council for a £10m hotel and retail development in the village.

A 99-bedroom hotel, 200-seat restaurant, farm shop, drive-through bakery, food outlet, four retail units and a fuel filling station are planned.

Image copyright Tomatin Trading Company
Image caption An artist's impression of hotel development at Tomatin

The site is the location of Tomatin's former Freeburn Hotel, filling station and Little Chef restaurant.

Construction of the development is expected to create work for 100 people and about 50 jobs once open.

Tomatin Distillery said it was an "engaged member" of the local community and it "wholeheartedly" welcomed and supported any development that benefited the area.

'David and Goliath' battle

But managing director Mr Stephen Bremner added: "We do, however, object to the development's proposed branding, which, we believe, takes unfair advantage of our reputation and we have repeatedly asked Mr Frame to reconsider.

"Tomatin Distillery has a rich heritage spanning many generations.

"We firmly believe we must protect our valuable brand, which is inherently associated with our distillery and our whisky as a result of over 120 years of dedicated craftsmanship."

Mr Frame, who has owned the site of his proposed development since 2005, said he was in a "David and Goliath battle" over use of the name "Tomatin".

He said his business had kept the distillery's owners "fully informed" of its plans from the start and notice of the legal action had come as a "huge disappointment".

The businessman said: "I feel this should wholeheartedly be about helping and promoting the village of Tomatin, giving young people jobs that are sustainable and getting young people back into the Highlands.

"No company can exclusively own the rights to a geographical place name."

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