I recently reviewed a bourbon cask Arran bottled by the German store Glen Fahrn. I was not a fan. In the hope that that was an aberration, I reached for another set of samples of Glen Fahrn. Now, you might say that Tobermory is not the best distillery on which to pin hopes of a turnaround, that maybe I should have picked the two 20 ml bottles of Miltonduff next to these instead. Unlike you, however, I choose to accentuate the positive, and I will remind you that I quite liked the last Tobermory in its late teens—and from a proximate year—that I tried. But, you say, that was from a sherry cask and this is from a bourbon cask, and so more likely to flaunt Tobermory’s deviant character. All I can say in response is that you should be ashamed of yourself for throwing words like “deviant” around; it’s very judgmental of you and, frankly, suggests an alarmingly narrow view of the world. It’s people like you who make people like Florin (Tobermory Superfan #1) feel unwelcome and alone.
Tobermory 17, 1995 (56.8%; Glen Fahrn; cask 446; from a purchased sample)
Nose: Lots of citrus, some malt, a little grass and just a bit of a porridgy note. No development with time and, if anything, it goes a bit blank. A few drops of water wake it back up, bringing out some sweetness and more of the malt.
Palate: Lemon zest, malt and some prickly oak. With time it gets more acidic and the characteristic yeasty, vegetal notes emerge and get stronger, but the lemon’s always there to balance them out. Better here too with water: the vegetal notes get pushed back, the lemon gets zingier and the malt expands.
Finish: Medium. The porridgy thing expands here at first and then the vegetal thing hangs out as well. A lot more lemon with water.
Comments: I had low expectations and this exceeded them. It’s recognizably Tobermory but, especially with water—which I think is mandatory—the Tobermory notes that I do not usually enjoy very much don’t get top billing.
Rating: 84 points.
Minor correction; I believe Glen Fahrn is a Swiss IB with all their shops located within Switzerland. Perhaps they may have once had a presence in Germany which may explain why they are listed as a German bottler on Whiskybase but their website and LinkedIn profile indicate that they are a Swiss AG (aka PLC).
Ah, thanks. I think I took that from Whiskybase.
My love letter to Tobermory is already written – see the comments. I do not remember writing it, but it’s been 3-4 years, and I was probably high on Tobermory 10 at the time. I wouldn’t change a word, though. I’ll just say two things: 1. I’ll defend Tobermory any time, in any court of law of public opinion, but as I mentioned before, I need to credit Michael Kravitz with opening my eyes to its wonderful weirdness; 2. I have had since at least two more bottles of Tobermory 10, and my impression was confirmed every time: fantastic, unique malt, with a surprising, tantalizing peaty side, and a crazy evolution over the life of the bottle, from feisty funk to well-mannered fruitiness. Ok, here’s a third one: 3. Pro tip: add a few drops of Ledaig 10 to your Tobermory 10 for more oomph, without killing the fruit.