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 →
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 →
Tobermory’s peated malt Ledaig has not always had the best reputation. In recent years, however, a number of heavily sherried Ledaigs have been released that have been received very well indeed. I’m not talking only about ancient monsters like this Alambic Classique 40 yo from 1972 (the year the distillery was re-opened after being shuttered for more than four decades) but very young casks distilled in the 2000s. I’ve reviewed a few of these, giving very high scores (relative to age, and in general) to a 6 yo and a 7 yo from the Whisky Exchange and to another 6 yo from Blackadder. I’m hopeful that this cask, released by Signatory, may be up to those standards; especially since the price was not low for such a young whisky. As to why these heavily sherried casks are falling to the independents, while the distillery continues to release a very different profile for its own 10 yo and 18 yo releases, I don’t know. 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 →