Taste: Cadenhead’s Tobermory 15 Year Old

Fashion by nature invades every nook and cranny, it clearly is the case that whisky isn’t immune to the trends and spotlights of the fashionistas. Some releases sell out instantly on the basis of the distillery, branding or marketing while other, arguably better whiskies, remain on the shelves gathering dust. The key to finding good whiskies in my experience is word of mouth, research and avoiding the high profile blogs.

It would be fair to say that Tobermory is a very unfashionable distillery hence why this release from Cadenhead’s is still available. This is despite being bottled in April 2012, nearly 2 years ago in an edition of just 246 bottles maybe that’ll change after I’ve written about it? A recent run through of the current bottles available at Cadenhead’s Edinburgh settled on this example, which was recommended and that’s good enough reason for me to make the purchase. So lets put the spotlight elsewhere and onto Tobermory for a change.

Tobermory distillery is on the island of Mull. It is a distillery I’ve yet to visit but slowly I am making my way around all of the Scottish islands; last year it was Orkney, this year it will be Arran, so 2015 might bring Mull or Lewis. Owned by the South African Distell Group, it is hoped the new owners will provide some overdue investment into Tobermory, Deanston and in particular Bunnahabhain. Often overlooked, this trio are well worth checking out if you haven’t done so already and can offer real value for money.

When peated malt is produced at Tobermory in excess of 30ppm it is known as Ledaig, so you’ll often see such bottles standing alongside one another. Releases from Tobermory can be fairly mundane and then there are others that really defy logic. The distillery is one of the great chameleons of Scottish whisky that will have you guessing what’s in store until you’ve opened the bottle. Another example of this is the Fettercairn distillery and I may have a review of that coming soon!  

Distillery: Tobermory
Distilled: 1996
Bottled: April 2012 (almost 16 years)
Strength: 53.7%
Price: £51.90
Edition of: 246 bottles
Additional: matured in an oak cask, not chill-filtered, no colouring added

Colour: next to no colour despite the age of this dram, a very light beige.

Nose: more peat than I’d normally associate with Tobermory with this label, highland heather, fresh pine, mint and almond. This is a really fresh nose.

Taste: Frankly bizarre, as if this was a sherry cask I’d be saying sulphur or burnt matches yet that’s not the case here. However that is the initial thrust onto the palate followed by peat, or a peat bog set alight, which brings on a surprising sweetness especially after adding water hence more vanilla and dark chocolate followed by tobacco. 

I could swear as I drink this malt, I’m taken back to my grandfather’s old Davy mining lamp with its distinctive aroma, coating the senses and taste buds of those who sat alongside it. This Tobermory has a real character of its own, perhaps a little too raw for some palates, I’ve grown to really admire its distinctive qualities. I wonder if they have any bottles left? This one is almost finished.


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