Last year’s Limited Release Tobermory was a 12 year old Fino finish, this time around, Distell are upping the maturation and taking us over to Sicily for a marsala finish. Marsala is a fortified wine made in the region of the same name, it’s produced from white grapes and is classified in three ways – by sweetness, colour and age.
There are no particular hints as to the style of marsala used here, but the whisky started its life in refill ex-bourbon hogsheads, before being transferred into the marsala casks for an unspecified finishing period. 1134 bottles have been produced at an ABV of 55.7% and with an RRP of £130.
Nose: The marsala has added a strong vein of sweetness - macerated orange segments, tangerine peels, orange fondant filled chocolates and raspberry sauce. Running throughout an assortment of baked treats – thick marzipan covered Battenberg cake, freshly baked gingernut biscuits, cookie dough and a mug of creamy latte. The addition of water adds peach and nectarine whilst also emphasising cinnamon, nutmeg and dusty oak
Taste: The arrival is soft and viscous, delivering cinnamon-spiced poached pears, plenty of stewed oranges and a pile of sticky raisins. Jammy strawberry and raspberry follow quickly, alongside cocoa powder, clove-studded ham and spent espresso grounds. The mid-to-back palate becomes increasingly cask influenced with super dry Ronseal and creosote fencing and well-worn park benches. At the same time, dark chocolate and cinnamon and nutmeg spices build and become progressively more bitter. Reduction softens things up adding freshly squeezed orange juice, and silky toffee whilst reducing the overall level of astringency.
Finish: Medium, with ground chocolate and spent coffee alongside toasted oak, and a drying bitterness.
Rather the mixed bag. Whilst the marsala finish has added both juicy oranges, and, a rich sugary layer, at the same time, it has buried all semblance of the coastal profile which I’d expect from Tobermory. Fruits and nuts (from the marsala) are well-honed and well-defined, but shift dramatically towards sharpness and acridness in the back-palate and the finish. A few drops of water restores the balance here, but I still can’t help but be a little disappointed.
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