Monday, March 6, 2023

Review / Tobermory 25 years old

This new whisky is the third bottling in the rare Hebridean Series from Tobermory on the island of Mull. The Tobermory 25 years old follows the 23- and 24- year old expressions from the previous two years. Initial maturation was in re-fill American oak and ex-Oloroso sherry casks, before a nine year secondary maturation in first-fill ex-Oloroso sherry casks from the famous Gonzalez Byass bodega in Jerez, Spain. There are just 5,298 bottles in this batch of Tobermory 25 years old and these are released at 48.1% ABV. The whisky is both of natural colour and non chill-filtered. It will be available via the Tobermory website and in selected world markets from March 8. A bottle will cost £345/ $US415. 

Tobermory is located in the town of the same name on the island of Mull, which is the UK's 4th largest island and lies just off the west Highland coast of Scotland. It is the only distillery on Mull and was founded in 1798 by John Sinclair. The original name was Ledaig (pronounced 'lay-chick' and meaning 'safe harbour' in Gaelic) and was only changed to Tobermory in 1979. Peated spirit is named Ledaig in honour of this. The distillery has had significant periods of closure most recently between 1982 and 1989, and 2017 to 2019. It is currently owned by Distell, who took control in 2013. The capacity is one million litres per year.
"Our Hebridean Series really champions the little island we call home, drawing inspiration on its unique history and heritage to shape our whisky. The 25 year old is a homage to Mull’s crofting history, and draws parallels on the skill and ingenuity that goes into working with the land around us." 
Brendan McCarron / Master Distiller at Tobermory. 


Our tasting notes

The colour is deep gold with a coppery tint and the nose is sweet and fruity. Milk chocolate and honeycomb mix with jammy aromas of plum and apricot to begin with. These are followed by further aromas of coconut, prune, bramble compote and a good pinch of cinnamon-like spice. A distinct nutty quality also evolves.

On the palate this whisky feels rich and oily in texture. Caramel and milk chocolate notes rise first and are quickly joined by manuka honey and the cinnamon-like spice from the nose. It is this which provides a good warmth and depth. Then comes a swathe of dried fruit characteristics - think of candied orange peel, prunes and brandy soaked raisins. The mix is heady.

Underneath are more subtle notes added complexity. The jammy and compote elements from the nose bulk up the fruitiness and are joined by a drying nutty and spicy quality - this is reminiscent of toasted walnuts and hazelnuts with a pinch of white pepper and clove. There is a late leathery note also that gives a lovely savoury feel. An even later hint of salinity rounds things off.

The robust and hearty nature of the whisky contributes to a lengthy finish. The sweetness fades first - the caramel, then manuka honey and finally the chocolate - and then the dried fruits. This leaves the drier elements to play. The toasted nuts, warming spices and oaky notes create a long and expressive finish that makes you want to reach for another sip.

What's the verdict?

This is a delicious offering from the Mull distillery of Tobermory. The balance of the oily nature of the spirit, oak and the sympathetic use of ex-sherry casks has created a multi-layered and enjoyable whisky. It is one of the best Tobermorys that we have sampled to date. Tobermory seems to be a distillery that really benefits from have a lengthy maturation in cask. This compliments the robust and hearty character of the spirit and 25 years seems to be a real sweet spot.

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