Tobermory’s two year upgrade has not prevented owners Distell from shrewdly keeping interest in the distillery ticking over. Despite production ceasing in March 2017 for a substantial site upgrade (replacement of stills and significant work on the visitor centre), a selection of special edition releases for both the unpeated Tobermory and peated Ledaig whisky lines have kept enthusiasts engaged whilst the distillery’s core bottlings have remained in good supply. Now, with works completed and Tobermory back in the distilling saddle, a new 12 year old expression has been unveiled to mark the occasion.
The new expression replaces the previous 10 year old and is matured solely in American oak ex-bourbon casks. Like all other ‘standard’ bottlings from Distell’s three distilleries (Bunnahabhain, Deanson and Tobermory) it comes delivered at 46.3%. The best price I can find for it in the UK is via the ever-competitively priced Green Welly Stop at £42.90.
It’s worth noting that Distell have sensibly kept the price of this new entry-expression at a similar level to the now discontinued 10 year old bottling. As far as I can tell, this seems to be a prevailing trend for the industry – largely maintaining the costs of ‘gateway’ bottlings, whilst adding premiums to those aged 15-18 years of age, and huge mark ups to anything daring to be matured for over 20 years.
Nose: Light and breezy with ripe pears and orange zest sitting alongside underlying maltiness and plenty of minerality – salted caramel, beach rocks and hewn granite. Sweetness is derived from gooey honey and vanilla butter biscuits, with delicate florals (heather flower and honeysuckle) scattered on top. The addition of water brings out aromas of syrupy apricots, dusty books and some mellow golden raisin.
Taste: Barley is immediate – malted milk and stickly malt loaf. It’s once again supported by coastal-nuance with plenty of citric and tangy salinity. Apple crumble with toffee sauce is offset by white pepper and dusty ginger spicing. In the background – vegetal earthiness with mosses, lichen and soils. Reduction shows off some orchard fruit character, but seriously stifles the development of the whisky. It’s ill advised - stick to this at 46.3%
Finish: Fairly short with citrus peels, white pepper developing steady into drying oakiness.
Despite possessing a broadly similar profile to the 10 year old bottling its replacing, Tobermory 12 year old feels like a more cohesive and self-confident offering. Aromas and flavours are defined and balanced, whilst the malty and salty character provides a distinctive personality. Notwithstanding the finish, which feels rather limited (a characteristic the 10 year old also possessed), there’s plenty to like here from this islander. Welcome back Tobermory.
Review sample provided by Indigo PR on behalf of Tobermory Distillery.
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