My first review for this month was of a Tobermory distilled in 1994 and bottled by the Italian independent, Wilson & Morgan. Let’s close out the month’s whisky reviews with another Tobermory distilled in 1994 and bottled by Wilson & Morgan. This is two years older than the previous—and where that was from an ex-bourbon cask, this one is from an oloroso sherry cask. Sherry cask Tobermorys have heretofore been the ones I’ve liked the best and I’m hoping that trend will continue with this one. Let’s get right to it.
(By the way, though this may seem like a very untimely review, I believe this is still available in Europe.)
Tobermory 20, 1994 (50%; Wilson & Morgan; oloroso sherry cask #5043; from a purchased sample) Continue reading →
Let’s start the month with a review of a malt from a distillery that is probably one of the most acquired of tastes in all of whiskydom, and a taste that I have not yet quite managed to acquire: Tobermory. The two Tobermorys I’ve liked the most have both been from sherry casks (this 19 yo from The Whisky Exchange, and this much older one from Alambic Classique). I’ve not fared as well with ex-bourbon Tobermory, where the idiosyncrasies of the distillate really get a chance to shine. I’m not a fan of the official 10 yo and nor was I particularly enthused by the 17 yo from Glen Fahrn that I reviewed in January—though I did find things to like about it. (It’s a different story with their peated variant, Ledaig, which I’ve been getting more and more into in the last few years—both ex-sherry and ex-bourbon.)
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. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
Here is another teenaged, sherried Ledaig. This was distilled a year before Wednesday’s 17 yo, 1998 from Cooper’s choice and is a year younger. And where that one was from a sherry butt (fill type unspecified), this was matured by Gordon & MacPhail in a refill sherry hogshead (and bottled for The Whisky Exchange). I opened my bottle a couple of months ago and it was quite rough to start. I’ve been drinking it down slowly and while it has mellowed a bit it’s still pretty aggressive on the peat front. Time now to finally record my notes (this is from the last quarter of the bottle).
Ledaig 16, 1997 (56.8%; Gordon & MacPhail for TWE; refill sherry hogshead #465; from my own bottle)
I’ve had (and reviewed) quite a few high quality young, sherried Ledaigs of late (see here, here, here, here, here and here). Most, though not all, of those were distilled in the mid-2000s. The teenaged Ledaigs from the previous decade that I’ve had have not been sherried and have generally not reached the heights of their younger, sherried siblings. Here now is a 17 yo from 1998 from a sherry butt. Will it reverse this trend?
This was bottled by Cooper’s Choice. I don’t know much about this label—as per Malt Madness, this is a brand of the Vintage Malt Whisky Company, founded in 1992 by an ex-employee of Bowmore. Johannes notes that they offer good value. I’ve not had very many of their bottlings so I cannot comment on that, but they do seem to be more ubiquitous in the last year or two with both cask strength and non-cask strength releases. Well, let’s see what this is like. Continue reading →
Here is another young Ledaig. This one is a year older and from a year earlier than yesterday’s bourbon cask from Maltbarn. I purchased this on spec after tasting the wonderful Signatory 9 yo from the same year and discovering that that one was sold out. This is from the same run of casks—900176 to the Signatory’s 900172—and my understanding is that Signatory is the source of van Wees’ casks as well. Odds were good, therefore, that it would be good as well; and if it’s even 80% as good I’ll be happy (it was cheaper than the Signatory was when it was available). Like the Signatory cask, this one has a very high abv (61.9%). I was reluctant at first to review the first pour—in my experience high abv whiskies can be quite “tight” when first opened, and particularly when from sherry casks)—but I did also want to follow the bottle over its full life and so decided to get some notes down: I compensated by airing it out for a long time. Continue reading →
I’ve reviewed and praised a number of young, sherry cask Ledaigs (most recently this stunner from Signatory). Here now is a bourbon cask from the same vintage as most of those. This was bottled by the new’ish German outfit, Maltbarn. I guess it might have been more useful to review it while it was still available, but I’ve never really been a very useful person. Let’s get right to it.
Ledaig 9, 2005 (48.1%; Maltbarn; bourbon cask; from a purchased sample)
Nose: Rubbery peat at first but it takes a very quick, sweet turn: sort of a simple syrup sweetness sitting on top of the rubber and vegetal and floral notes. Altogether, somewhat mezcal’ish. With a bit of air there’s some vanilla and also some pepper. With more time the floral/rubbery notes recede and the vanilla is joined by some fruit (apple, lemon) and faint cereally notes. The citrus expands further as it sits. (The peat is present throughout.) As so often happens, the citrus gets muskier with water; more salt too now. Continue reading →
This is the old Ledaig 15 at 43% (probably chillfiltered and maybe even coloured, though it’s not particularly tanned in appearance). I don’t think there’s been an updated version of this since Tobermory/Ledaig’s lineups got rebooted/upgraded with higher abv’s and more bespoke presentation some years ago—as to why that is, I’m not sure; there is a Tobermory 15, after all.
Anyway, this review is again going up simultaneously with that of Michael K. and Jordan D. (links to come in the morning once all the posts are up and I’m awake) and they will certainly have far more useful information. I can tell you that Michael’s incredibly conventional sample label says this was bottled in 2001 and that it’s probably actually 19 years old once you factor the distillery’s closures in. Continue reading →
More than a year ago I reviewed an absolutely exquisite sherried Ledaig 40, 1972 from the German bottler, Alambic Classique. I thought that was one of the very best whiskies I tasted last year. Here now is a challenger from the same distillery and bottler: an even older Tobermory (Ledaig, as you probably know, is the name of the peated whisky made at Tobermory). This one is 41 years old and like the Ledaig is also from a single oloroso sherry cask. Even though I deeply regretted not buying the Ledaig when it was released—by the time I tasted the samples I bought it was long gone—I did not spring for a full bottle of this one either: both because it was very expensive and because my few experiences with Tobermory have not been as good as the one I’ve recently had with Ledaig. I’m hoping this tasting doesn’t make me feel stupid (especially as current Tobermory is no basis for making judgements about 1972 Tobermory). Continue reading →
Okay, let’s do one more young Ledaig to bring the run of reviews of peated whiskies to a close. This one, like the 6 yo from Blackadder that I liked so much, is also from a sherry cask. It was bottled by the Whisky Exchange for the 2013 iteration of their annual whisky show. Oddly, they don’t note a vintage. As to whether this means that this was a vatting or that it’s merely in keeping with the “retro label” that this bottle (and others released at the show) sported, I don’t know. And frankly I’m not so very interested to find out.
Ledaig 7 (59.4%; sherry matured; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: You’re never going to believe it but there’s farmy, organic peat notes in this! No rotting rodents though, just a lot of partially composted leaves. Quite a bit of salt too and some pipe tobacco. It’s not as clearly sherried as the Blackadder 6 yo but there are sweet fruit notes here too: plums, a little bit of orange peel, some raisins. More pastry/baked notes with time. The vegetal peat and the fruit marry surprisingly well with time. With water the citrus comes out in front but there’s still a lot of smoke (with more charred meat now). Continue reading →
Hot on the heels of my review of the Ledaig 10, and picking back up the run of reviews of smoky whiskies, here is an even younger Ledaig, this from a single sherry cask and released by the indie outfit, Blackadder. I’ve previously reviewed another Ledaig 6 that I rather liked and I’m interested to see how this one compares.
Ledaig 6, 2005 (64%; Blackadder; sherry cask #9011; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: The usual Ledaig farmy peat but it’s shot through with orange peel, raisins and dark honey; some caramel too. Rather expressive despite the high (!) strength. After a minute or so there’s quite a lot of salt and there’s an inky quality to the smoke too and just a hint of struck matches. After a while it’s all about the citrus (now joined by some apricot) with some savoury notes (cured pork) and briny smoke playing above. Water wakes the farmy notes back up but only for a flash–after that it’s pretty much as it was neat, with maybe a little more apricot sweetness and a little bit of leather. Continue reading →
I’ve reviewed a few indie Ledaigs already, and have a couple more lined up, but I’m yet to taste the official Ledaig 10 at its (relatively) new strength of 46.3%. I can’t say I was much of a fan of the older Ledaig 10. Anyway, let’s get right to it.
Ledaig 10 (46.3%; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: A big wave of rubbery, farmy peat; quite pungent and gets quite acidic quite quickly. The rubber (burning tyres) is quite strong as is the aroma below that of some kind of small rodent rotting in wet undergrowth. Some salt too, maybe some lime. Not getting anything else. Okay, let’s hope it’s better on the palate. After a lot of time, the rubber subsides a bit and there’s a lot more salt, but it’s still pretty acrid. With a couple of drops of water the citrus gets more pronounced (musky lemon now). Continue reading →
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.