Tobermory 1995/2006 (55.6%, Berry Brothers & Rudd, Cask #744)

The last Tobermory I reviewed was one of the stellar 32yo’s that have quite a reputation. How to follow-up on one of those? Today we’ll be looking at and independently bottled Tobermory. The bottler being Berry Brothers & Rudd and the year of distillation 1995. Tobermory has a rocky past and for a while even was converted into a power station. The reputation of the distillate was even shakier. In the past this stuff could really be hit or miss, so not something you would buy untasted. It could be really bad and funky, strange even. On the other hand, if it was good it could be really good, surpassing most other Whiskies, so the potential is there. Today that reputation is different. Tobermory and Ledaig are getting better by the year, and every new release is something that interests me a lot. Still no easy Malt, but if you get it, you’ll get it. In the day where everything starts to taste a bit similar and official bottlings are becoming younger and NAS-ser, an independently bottled Tobermory or Ledaig could very well be your best choice. At least it often is different from the rest. What more could you want these days?

Tobermory 744Color: White wine.

Nose: Heaps of barley. Damp hay. Citrussy fresh. Lowland style. Lemon grass, lemon curd, all kinds of sweet lemon, without being overly present and thus overly acidic. Hints of new-made spirit even. Old vanilla. Very light. Hints of a salty sea breeze. Very light peat as well. Smells chewy. Sappy, spicy, fragrant and vegetal wood in the background. Garden bonfire, burning off some dry grass. The initial barley note wears out, for a more coherent smell. I’m not sure if this is perfectly made Whisky, but after I got used to the Bladnoch 8yo I reviewed earlier, I seem to like this one as well. Just like the Bladnoch, this profile grows on me.

Taste: Very sweet entry. Sugary sweet. Sweet barley. Most definitely some hints of Grappa. Toffee, but also a sharper and drier element. All sorts of lemon again, combined with toffee and some dry wood. Otherwise not very fruity. A plethora of different dry grasses. Fatty and hints of cold dish water you forgot. Faint soapyness, like the paper wrapper that came off a bar of soap years ago.

Excellent entry and body, aided by this very typical profile. Nice stuff. The finish is not so strong and concentrates around two or three distinct markers from the body. Slightly soapy barley, wood and paper. As well as a tiny bitter note. The sweetness is gone, although hints of toffee reappear in the aftertaste.

Not a very easy Malt, but definitely one you would like to try, since it is different from many other malts. Quite the learning experience, because it’s almost like an unpeated, peated Malt. It’s how a peated Malt could be underneath. Although this is also no Lowlander, it is nice to have since it has a second face as a Lowlander. True Lowlanders like Rosebank and others are becoming more and more scarce and expensive. Besides this Tobermory, I hope for a bright future for Bladnoch as well, but if not, try something like this before the profile becomes extinct.

Points: 85

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Tobermory 32yo 1972/2005 (50.1%, OB, Green Label, Oloroso Sherry Finish, 912 bottles)

This is the first Tobermory on these pages and the Whisky itself comes from the Island of Mull. This distillery was founded already in 1798 and was originally called Tobermory. Tobermory closed in 1930 and was turned into a power station. It stayed closed as a distillery, untill it reopened in 1972, but this time as Ledaig. Ledaig’s history, from its reopening was a rocky one, with a lot of buying and selling of the distillery with production stops to match. The current owner is Burn Stewart (which itself is/was owned by an insurance company (since 2002), that again was rescued by the government of Trinidad & Tobago in 2010. You don’t want to know…)

Back to Tobermory (or Ledaig). Ledaig was sold to Burn Stewart in 1993, and they decided to give back its original name: Tobermory. In 2005 Tobermory issued three 32yo from 1972. These were Oloroso Sherry finished Whiskies. One with a black label, one with a red label and this green label reviewed here. Purists mention an additional brown labeled version for sale at the distillery. Also 32yo and 1972, but “put on bottle” in 2010, so it must have been kept in stainless steel tanks of on glass from 2005 to 2010 to stop further ageing. Not a lot is known about this bottle…

Color: Brown

Nose: Tarry with lots of red and black fruits. Peat, asphalt and lemonade. Honey. Very appetizing. Coal smoke and steam. This is a true vintage steam locomotive. A little bit of plum with a lot of burned sugar. Toasted wood, burned wood (when turned cold again) and burned paper. Cookie dough. Later it gets dryer and more dusty. Incense. There are a lot of associations with burned stuff, but still, all that doesn’t overpower the whisky. The fruityness makes for great balance. This is truly one of these malts that oozes the days of yesteryear and really they don’t make them like this anymore…

Taste: Strong and again steam locomotive. The taste matches the nose perfectly. Thick sherry with some licorice. It’s fruity, red fruit and the fruit part is fresh and lively. Over this fruit steam and coal again. Hard (red) candied fruit. Quite nice is that the finish is only a little bit bitter. Warming. Wood and tar. The only beef I have with this Green label as opposed to the other two is that the taste is not that balanced and coherent. It doesn’t gel completely and with time it sometimes seems thinner than the other two.

Of the three, this is the least interesting one. In my humble opinion, the Red label Tobermory 32yo is the best, but the black follows in its footsteps quite well. Between the two it’s a matter of taste. Still, if the other ones aren’t available, do get this one in stead, because you’re up for a nice journey, and this one is pretty good by itself! All three of these whiskies may not be perfect, but they are classics in their own right and they do deserve a place in the Whisky hall of Fame!

Points: 88