I’ve not had very much Tobermory–just a few iterations of the 10 yo over the years. This is both because there isn’t a very large amount of Tobermory around in the US and because their malt does not, in general, have the best reputation and so I haven’t been moved to go out of my way to try it. In fact, Michael Kravitz, who I am once again simultaneously reviewing this one with, may be the only person I know who is generally a fan. (He’s reviewed two other Tobermorys leading up to this review and you should check those reviews out too.) The reputation of their peated malt, sold as Ledaig, has been on the upswing of late so it may well be that Tobermory is also due for rehabilitation. I have to admit I didn’t care overmuch for the Tobermory 10 when I last tried it back in February–let’s see what I make of it now.
Edit: Here is the link to Michael’s review. He liked it quite a lot more than I did (though our samples did not come from the same bottle).
Tobermory 10 (46.3%; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Peppery, minerally, vegetal (celery?) notes. Reminiscent of oiled machinery. Gets sweeter (again, in a minerally way) and porridgy as it sits but also a little bit plasticky. With more time it gets grassier but there’s also a hint of lime. With a lot more time the sourness seems chemical/artificial and there’s definitely some dry smoke now. Okay, let’s set this aside for a while and see if the chemical/sour note goes away. And 10 minutes later it’s abated a little but the whole is still rather plasticky. Let’s see if water redeems it further. Yes, with water it’s less plasticky and more porridgy.
Palate: More sour (aspirin) and acidic on the palate with a bit of acrid smoke (or is that plastic?). Not a great first impression, I’m afraid. With a lot of time and air the sourness abates on the palate as well and there’s more minerally sweetness here, and not as much plastic. And as the chemical sourness goes down some lime emerges in its place. Water balances the palate as well, tamping down the chemical/plastic notes further and letting the minerally/oily sweet notes and pepper and lime take center stage.
Finish: Medium. The sour notes peter out and it’s sweeter and more minerally again. A little bit of bitterness with time. Sweeter still with water.
Comments: Well, as we say in Minnesota, it’s sure different. It’s reminiscent of some 1970s malts I’ve enjoyed a lot more but unlike those this doesn’t really have anything to shade the vegetal, grassy, mineral/plasticky notes in an interesting way. It’s no cookie cutter malt and it improved with prolonged airing but it’s still not my cup of whisky, I’m afraid.
Rating: 78 points.
Thanks to Florin for the sample!