Tobermory (10 year)

Tobermory is a distillery located in the town of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. Positioned geographically between Islay and the Isle of Skye, it shares taste elements with both the peaty Islay malts and the rocky, salty malt of Talisker. I think it bears the most resemblance, however, to the Campbeltown distillery of Springbank. The distillery, like many, has had a rocky history during which it suffered many closures and re-openings. It was briefly renamed as Ledaig distillery in the 1970s. The name Tobermory also adorned bottlings of a blended scotch, and later a vatted malt, before finally being bottled as a single malt in 1989.

Tobermory is mildly peated, but only because of the water that runs over peat bogs above the distillery. Tobermory uses unpeated malt. However, the distillery also produces a heavily-peated malt named Ledaig. Ledaig’s heavy peat character is derived from both the peated water and peated malt.

Nose: Yeasty and robust, with some dark, mushroomy peat and smoldering coals over a layer of butterscotchy malt. The peat has an oily, industrial quality not unlike Springbank. A rest in the glass reveals some elements of bourbon cask aging – caramel and vanilla.

Palate: Medium bodied. Even tongue burn, with a nice balance of alcohol to malty sweetness at 46.3% ABV. Here the malt sugars emerge in the form of burnt caramel and assorted cereal notes, although the peat becomes a bit muddy.

Finish: Long and peaty, but in an earthy way. More caramel, vanilla and barrel char. Not particularly bitter, although the fade-out leaves some ashy, asphalt notes.

With Water: Water tames the peat somewhat, revealing more vanilla and malt. A few drops can’t hurt, but don’t dilute it too much.

Overall: This is akin to 10 year-old Springbank in many ways – from the earthy “not quite smokey” peat, to the industrial oily notes, and the emphasis on barrel char. I think I prefer Springbank for its clearer malt character and eclectic complexity. Still, this “poor man’s Springbank” isn’t bad for the price, and I think the choice of bottling at 46.3% ABV is spot-on. The earthy, mushroomy quality of peated whisky is clear despite only coming from the water, although it is less prominent than in a fully peated whisky, such as those from Islay. At around $55, there isn’t a lot of reason to recommend this 10 year-old. It has been said that Tobermory and Ledaig are better suited to long aging, and that the 20+ year-old bottlings are refined and complex. It thus may be worthwhile skipping Tobermory unless you particularly like the oily/mildly peated style and are looking for alternatives to Springbank.

ScotchNoob™ Mark:

About The Distillery

This distillery is owned by Burn Stewart Distillers plc, and produces two single-malts: Tobermory, a dry, mid-peated dram and Ledaig, a heavily-peated malt in the Islay style. Both are used in the blends Scottish Leader and Black Bottle. The distillery is located on the Isle of Mull, a location geographically similar to Talisker on Skye. Tobermory was once the name of a blended whisky, and then a vatted malt, but adorned the distillery’s official single-malt bottling starting in 1989. Peaty water, entirely responsible for the smokiness of Tobermory, is collected from a dam near the Misnish Lochs and piped to the distillery. For Ledaig, the distillery uses peated barley. Both whiskies are aged on the mainland, not on Mull.
Tobermory (10 year)
46.3% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $53 - $58
Acquired: (30ml sample bottle) Master of Malt.

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  • OK, a little off topic but i’m gonna cut right to the chase. Scotch is a rip-off, I was in the liquor store today, the price of scotch is just stupid, brands that were $30 a year or two ago are now $50. You know what I say – “They can keep it”
    I went over to the brandy section, and picked up another bottle of Armagnac. Compared to scotch you can get the same quality for half the price, in fact some of the french brandys can taste very close to sherry’d scotches.
    Scotch has just turned into a very very over-priced yuppied drink, so like a say, they can keep it. Let some other sucker buy it. For me – I’ve found other quality liguor to drink and I’m not getting taken.

    • @notme, I’m right there with you. Scotch price increases have been harsh, and they aren’t going away – everything from Diageo is going to be going up in price (again) over the next 6 months. Many of us are reacting by buying less scotch, or downgrading to blends, or drinking bottles we’ve been building up in our cabinets. Still others are taking your approach – there are excellent deals in fine rums, tequilas, brandies, eaus de vie, and so on. Here’s hoping we can ride out the storm until another crash brings the whole market back down to earth. That said, there are still some reasonable deals available. I picked up a Glenmorangie 10 “The Original” for $27 last week! Glenlivet’s entire range is still pretty reasonable. Bank Note is a great blend for way less than they could be charging. Cheers! -Nathan

      • Yes there still are a few decent deals in scotch out there to be found. As mentioned above Glenmorangie 10 for $27 and Glenlivet can be had for $25 in “some” places. Unfortunatley, where I live liquor prices are controled by the state so there are no deals to be had. Glenlivet is like $46 here, JW Black is $43, for me those are “You can keep it” prices.
        What I’ve noticed is that some brands will come out with a new expression, like a 10 or 12 year and put it out for $40-ish, presumably to entice one into buying it, of course that doesn’t last long and then they crank the price up. But I’ll buy them while they’re down in that price range. But it’s worth noting that even that $40-ish range, use to be $30-ish but a year or two ago.
        And to add to all the pricing increases, personally I find the quality of a lot of brands I use to like to have fallen off, as I’ve mentioned in other postings, there is this industry trend to over peat everything, because that’s what Joe Q Amateur Scotch Drinker is infatuated with, and Joe Q is the new mass market, and about the only thing they can taste is peat because it’s so obvious and smacks them in the face.
        So it seems that more and more all a scotch drinker is getting left with are over peated and over priced whiskeys to choose from.
        So short of some miracle – prices fall and this ridiculous peat trend reverses itself, I’ll be looking for better ways to spend my hard earned “drinking” dollars.
        And that’s my story and i’m sticking to it. Feel free to disagree and to live your life in whatever form of misery or happyness suits you best… cheers

  • Tobermory 10 year is an excellent scotch. I have savored most scotch whiskeys’ over a period of 40+ years, some that most people will never had heard of. I’ve been to Tobermory on several occasions and will always stock up. For any fool that compares Armagnac to scotch whisky must be drunk.