Let’s make it three malts from The Whisky Exchange in a row for the week. This one was bottled not by Signatory and not this year (unlike Monday’s Bowmore and Wednesday’s Clynelish). This was released a few years ago by the Speciality Drinks division of the company (now known as Elixir Distillers even though they don’t actually distill anything as far as I know) in their Single Malts of Scotland series. While there are a lot of sherried Ledaigs about—Ledaig, as you know, is the name for Tobermory’s peated variant—there is not as much sherried Tobermory available and so this caught my eye back then. I opened it recently for one of my local group’s tastings (dedicated to sherried whiskies) and it did quite well. While deviants like Florin—the fifth man on the moon—will disagree, it’s entirely possible that sherry aging is needed to saw off Tobermory’s nastier bits. In this case it’s also a sherry hogshead which means greater oak contact. Anyway, here are my notes.
Tobermory 19, 1994 (55.8%; Single Malts of Scotland; sherry hogshead 5174; from my own bottle)
Nose: Rich but slightly sour sherry notes—leather, plum, orange peel; After a minute or two there’s some savoury gunpowder and salt. Not much change here with time; let’s see what water does. Oh, it makes it farmier and closer to sherried Ledaig (sans peat, of course)—is that a vote for “distillery character”?
Palate: Pretty much as promised by the nose but with pencil lead mixed in. Very approachable at full strength but a bit hot. Oakier on the second sip but it works well with the mix of sharp and sweet sherry notes. With time it gets more savoury with reduced beef stock and dark soy sauce. A little sweeter here with water but nothing very new.
Finish: Medium-long. The fruit expands a bit and then it gets spicier as it goes; the sharper notes dominate at the end. Longer with water, fruitier and less spicy/sharp.
Comments: A very good sherried whisky in the meaty style, in which the sherry and the oak are in fine balance. It’s not particularly Tobermory but depending on how you feel about the distillery’s non-peated output, that may not be such a bad thing. Better with water, I thought.
Rating: 87 points.
“Sherry hogshead” suggests American oak to me. But maybe I’m jumping to conclusions. Thoughts?
At this point, can unless a label specifies European oak or the whisky has that specific bite, I just assume it’s an American oak cask for all sherried whiskies.
Beginning to get to the end of this bottle and it’s at its best now: much more citrus mixed in with leather and some savoury gunpowder.