1257 Kensington Road NW
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Distilled in 2008, this 13-14-year-old Tobermory was matured in a Sherry Butt, cask 900166, before bottling at an impressive 64.8%. This is our first ever single cask of Tobermory, and it is a massive and sherried coastal dram! 504 bottles in total.
A missive from Evan on this bottle, and Tobermory in general:
The spirit distilled by Tobermory typically falls into the sabre-rattling love-it or leave-it categories with most whisky fans. There is no middle ground: a vast and barren no man's land keeps these conflicting groups apart. As you would guess, I am well-dug into the trenches on the love-it side of the battlefield. So is my comrade in arms; Harmony. She and I happily spread the good word of Tobermory and Ledaig with evangelistic fervour to all who would listen. Sadly, Curt and Andrew - being the philistines they are - have found less to enjoy from this remarkable island distillery. Keen to wallow in their closed-minded wrong-headedness, they spend much of their spare time rabble-rousing and lobbing insults at us from the safety of their pathetic ditch across the way.
Amazingly, this specific and singular single-cask of Tobermory has managed to create a sort of detente, with the four of us being so utterly impressed by the cask sample we tasted of this that we had to have it for the store. Andrew's own tasting notes mention something akin to Ledaig simmering in the depths of the high-octane liquid (64.8% ABV!). I believe he means that as a compliment. If that is true, then it is truly shocking, but I have no choice but to agree! We are all glad we selected this single cask, which is unpeated but bursting with flavour nonetheless.
Scroll down to find my tasting notes which are sure to provide you with even more reason to join Harmony and me on the front lines, fighting the good fight and defending against any haters. For, this isn't just another bottle of whisky: it is a rallying cry meant to be taken up by all Tobermory lovers everywhere!750ml ml
Andrew's Tasting Note
Nose: did we bottle a Ledaig? tarry with firm leather, Dominican cigars and dried dark fruits; very nutty with dry sherry tones; dark bakers chocolate and Eatmores; burnt orange peel, cooked raisins and panettone; a touch of heat, but less than you would expect given the abv.
Palate: big, rich and sherried; the sherry tones are dry and very nutty... this was matured in an Oloroso cask; Wine Gums, cooked raisins, grilled dates and figs; once again, despite the impressive abv the alcohol is only warm, not sharp; more leather and tobacco, salted caramel and a touch of both latex tubing and faint peat; decadent baking spices, and Dutch licorice emerge as the fruits and nutty sherry tones fade.
Finish: warm, sherried and spicy; though warm drying the dark fruits and salted caramel balance it out; more licorice and baking spices.
Comment: no, this is not Ledaig, but it is a rather sherried Tobermory, with a very faint whiff of peat; the alcohol might look daunting, but fear not this is a well-matured and very drinkable whisky... also our first ever KWM single cask of Tobermory!
Evan's Tasting Note
Nose: Dates, black licorice, stewed plums, cranberries, raspberries, and apricots, beached wood on coastal rocks, and the slightest whiff of a still faintly smoking campfire that was recently doused with water.
Palate: Coffee grounds and salted caramel, espresso beans and almonds coated in dark chocolate, leather in both fruit and garment forms, salty black licorice, and a touch of maple syrup.
Finish: Deep and brooding sherry notes both coat your mouth and leave it slightly dry on the lengthy fade.
Comment: This whisky tries to simultaneously thrash you about like a ragdoll and gently smother you. The result is dizzying and hypnotic.
Berry Bros. Tasting Note
"This is a truly coastal dram with the nose roaming from seaweed, brine and beach bonfire to Dundee Cake and thick oloroso sherry. The chewy palate offers notes of dried fruits, old leather and cigar boxes with an unmistakably salty note appearing on the finish. A dram to enjoy from the deck of the boat approaching Mull."
One of our favourite independent bottlers, Berry Bros. & Rudd is a stored London based firm which has resided at #3 St. James Street, a stone's throw from St. James Palace, since 1698. Primarily a wine merchant, they have also played a prominent role in the Scotch whisky industry. In addition to founding the Cutty Sark Blend, and managing the Glenrothes brand for 30 years, BBR is also an independent bottler. We have long been impressed not only by the quality of their independent bottlings, but also their value!
Berry Bros. & Rudd in Their Own Words
With two Royal Warrants and more than 300 years of history, Berry Bros. & Rudd is Britain’s original wine and spirits merchant.
We can trace our history back to 1698, when an enterprising woman called the Widow Bourne started an “Italian grocer’s” at No.3 St James’s Street, selling tea, snuff, spices and the most fashionable drink of the day, coffee. The sign of the coffee mill still hangs outside our premises at No.3 today, in tribute to our roots.
In due course, our focus shifted to something a little bit stronger. As wine became important to the business, so too did spirits, and we started bottling casks under our label in the early 19th century, making us Britain’s oldest independent spirits bottler. Three centuries on, the family business continues to flourish, with its heart still very much at No.3.
While much has changed over the years, we are still owned and managed by members of the Berry and Rudd families, and we continue to supply the British Royal Family, as we have done since the reign of King George III. We still, from time to time, weigh customers on a giant set of coffee scales, a tradition which began in the 1760s, with Lord Byron, William Pitt and Beau Brummell among those who have had their weights recorded in our ledgers. Most importantly, we still believe that everything you should look for in a wine or spirit comes down to one simple question: “Is it good to drink?”
We Have Two Write Ups on Tobermory for You!
#1 The Following Artical was Written by Andrew Ferguson for Celtic Life Magazine
Though Scotland is not a very large country, it is impressive how many Scottish place names there are scattered about Canada. One of the most curious is Calgary, Canada’s 4th largest city, which takes its moniker from a white sand beach and small hamlet on the Isle of Mull. A native Calgarian, I made the pilgrimage to the original Calgary about 15 years ago, and even had a dip in the chilly waters of Calgary Bay. When I asked a couple of other tourists on the beach if they could take a photo of me in the water, they asked me where I was from. “The other Calgary” I proudly declared!
Mull is the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides on Scotland’s rugged west coast. A thousand years ago it was in the domain of the Lords of the Isles, a semi-independent kingdom of maritime raiders. Prior to the Highland Clearances of the 1700 and 1800s, the island was home to more than 10,000 people. The clearances, the potato famine of the 1840s, and emigration, reduced it to less than 3,000 by the beginning of the 20th century - about the same as it is today.
The island is a popular tourist destination with throngs of visitors taking the ferry from nearby Oban to see its many castles, beaches, the holy island of Iona, and its picturesque capital, Tobermory. Tobermory was founded in 1788 as a fishing town, during the Clearances, as part of a program to provide both work and a place to live to displaced crofters. There is, not surprisingly, a Tobermory in Canada too. The name was given to a harbour at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario.
The original Tobermory was built around a deep natural harbour with a curious history, just off the north coast of Mull. A gold-laden Spanish galleon (possibly the Florencia), part of the failed Spanish Armada, was anchored in the port seeking provisions in 1588 when its powder magazine exploded, sending her to the muddy depths. What caused the explosion is still disputed, but there is some evidence to suggest it may have been the result of a raid to steal the gold or a dispute about compensation.
The Tobermory Distillery was built in 1798, 10 years after the town was founded and, as with many of the homes, clings to the edge of the bay.
Originally named Ledaig, pronounced [led*chig], the distillery would only operate for 40 years before closing in 1837. It was open again between 1890 and 1930, after which it sat silent for another 42 years. Like many others, the distillery was at the mercy of cyclical global demand for whisky production. It was refurbished and reopened again in 1972, only to close three years later when its owners went bankrupt.
Under fresh ownership it opened again in 1979 under a new name: Tobermory Distillers Ltd., but temporarily paused production between 1982 and 1989, the worst years of the most recent market correction. In 1993, the distillery’s fortunes turned, seemingly forever, when it was acquired by Burn Stewart Distillers, the owners of the Black Bottle Blended Scotch whisky. Today the distillery produces both peated (Ledaig) and unpeated (Tobermory) single malts, which are widely available. The peated version, Ledaig, is very rubbery and medicinal in style, and likely the only whisky more divisive amongst single malt enthusiasts than Laphroaig.
The distillery’s production is small - less than 1,000,000 litres a year - and unlikely to grow much, owing to its cramped conditions sandwiched between steep cliffs and the bay. The distillery’s stills are short but have both boil balls and very unusual lyne arms with an upward s-shaped kink. The result is a lighter spirit, though you would never suspect that after tasting Ledaig. Only a tiny fraction of the whisky is matured on site, with most of the distillery’s production matured on the mainland.
A short ferry ride from Oban, the Isle of Mull has plenty to offer visitors, not least a tour of Tobermory Distillery. The colourful buildings which ring the bay form a beautiful backdrop and make it one of Scotland’s most picturesque towns. Historic castles, black and white sand beaches, rolling hills and craggy mountains all add to its charm. Just off the coast there are two more reasons to visit. First there is the tiny holy island of Iona in the southwest, where - around its reconstructed Abbey - there are more monarchs buried than anywhere else in Europe. Second, the even smaller island of Staffa, home to Fingal’s Cave, a geologic formation connected to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. The haunting sound of waves crashing into the cave even inspired Felix Mendelssohn to compose an overture.
#2 This information was originally written and posted by Evan on the KWM blog for our 2020 Whisky Advent Calendar.
I have not yet been to the Isle of Mull, but the town of Tobermory seems like it would picturesque town to visit. With a row of houses along the waterfront painted in bright colours, it looks like it could be located in parts of Italy or Greece if it wasn’t for the surrounding trees and foliage. The waterfront view has been used on many different UK television shows because of this.
The town Tobermory is located on the Northern part of Mull and was founded in 1788, a decade before Tobermory Distillery came to being. The town was intentionally built and engineered to be a fishing port by the British Fisheries Society. Today, the population sits around 1,000.
The distillery was founded in 1798 under the name Ledaig and has switched between that and the Tobermory name throughout its lifetime. The most recent name changes happened half a century ago in 1972 when it was revived as Ledaig. It then went back to being officially named Tobermory in 1979 and has stayed that since.
Ledaig is pronounced “Let-Chick”, or “Led-Chegg” depending on who you ask. The whisky made under this name is a heavily peated style of Single Malt Scotch and it is created by Tobermory Distillery which resides on the Isle of Mull.
The distillery lays claim to a history of spotty production. Like many Scottish distilleries, it shifted from busy to closed depending on the local and global economy and general demand for whisky. It has twice been closed for a four-decade stretch – first between 1837 and 1878 and again just last century from 1930 to 1972.
Tobermory Distillery is owned by Burn Stewart/Distell International. This company was responsible for Tobermory’s most recent closure of two years, which happened between April 2017 and June 2019. This closure was for renovations and refurbishment though, which included the replacement of two of its four stills. A new gin still was also installed during that time, though sadly the Tobermory Gin has not made its way to our neck of the woods just yet.
Distell International owns the blended Scotch Whisky known as Black Bottle and two other distilleries besides Tobermory. The Deanston Distillery in the Highlands and my personal favourite Islay Distillery: Bunnahabhain.