Origin: Isle of Mull (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry Oloroso
Added coloring: No
Owner: Distell Group Ltd.
Average price: € 126.00
Official website: tobermorydistillery.com
After getting to know the Wilson & Morgan version, we return to the Tobermory peated whisky with a bottle that has been in their core range for some time.
Established in 1798 as Ledaig, the distillery like many others has undergone several changes of hands and temporary closures throughout its history. The founder, John Sinclair, was originally granted permission to build a brewery, but as you know, going from beer to whisky is a snap of fingers, even though distilling was banned in the UK at the time to preserve grain as sustenance for the war against France.
Sinclair was finally licensed in 1823, undergoing its first change of ownership in 1890 (John Hopkins & Co.), followed in 1916 by the Distillers Company (which many years later was in turn acquired first by Guinness and then Diageo), and finally closing in 1930, during prohibition.
The distillery reopened with mixed fortunes in the 1970s, closing again in the early 1980s before reopening in 1991 thanks to Burn Stewart Distillers, which in turn was acquired by the current owners in 2013.
The only distillery on the island of Mull, they depend on the waters of a lake, in this case their own, to produce their spirits (whisky and gin). A period of unusually low rainfall in 2012 forced them to temporarily stop production to give the lake time to recover its waters.
The basic portfolio includes three unpeated whiskies under the Tobermory label (10 years, 12 years and an enviable 42 years) and two heavily peated whiskies under the Ledaig label (10 years and 18 years).
Until recently, the distillery didn’t enjoy a great reputation, but thanks mainly to the Ledaig bottlings things have changed considerably.
In the glass we are greeted by a magnificent deep coppery red, thanks to the final maturation in Sherry, a truly spectacle.
The nose is invaded (peacefully) by sultanas, cloves, orange, a touch of liquorice, all sustained by a very mineral peat, freshly hoed earth (and even a little fertilised), which accompanies without covering it. It’s also supported by a sea breeze with a rubber undertone (the well-known problem of water pollution!). A very liqueur-like and full-bodied profile, almost chewy even just on the nose, soft and rough at the same time, very fascinating.
On the palate the peat explodes in a blaze of barbecue sauce and ash, nice and oily and full, which drips onto your tongue together with liquorice and herring (!) under a shower of minerality. But let’s not forget the fruit, which has been swept away by all this blanket but still manages to float and make you feel orange and a hint of toasted almond (obviously). The alcohol profile gives the right push, titillating the walls of the mouth, trying to distract you (in vain) from this roasted tide. At times, it’s almost reminiscent of an Ardbeg. Almost.
The finish reflects the palate, inevitably fleshy but also earthy peat, ash, rubber, a touch of orange and a light note of spice, all quite long.
Complex, full-bodied, a peaty bomb that keeps those who don’t like the genre away, but if you do, you’ll dive into this one hands, feet, nose, mouth and all.