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The town of Tobermory is the capital of Mull, an isle in the Inner Hebrides, just off Scotland’s west coast. Its beginnings can be traced back to the British Fisheries Society, who had been seeking locations around western Scotland in which to set up fishing communities. When one of their agents visited Mull in 1786, he declared the natural harbour at Tobermory an ideal spot. A fishing port was established in 1788 and it was into this sea-faring community that a young Kelp Merchant named John Sinclair arrived.
In 1798, Sinclair bought 57 acres of land upon which to build a house and a distillery. Since distilling had been banned since 1795, he was at first encouraged to build a brewery instead but stuck with his original plan and was among the first distillers to go legit after the 1823 excise act.
Tobermory distillery has had more than its fair share of closures, with extended periods of silence from 1837 to 1878 and then again from 1930 to 1972. Further turbulence saw the warehouses sold off in the ’80s and converted into holiday lets while other buildings were even used to store cheese at one point.
Eventually, things began to settle down under the ownership of Burn Stewart who acquired the property and its stocks in 1993. Today, two brands of single malt are produced there: the original Tobermory and the heavily peated Ledaig. As with all Burn Stewart’s standard expressions, it has been bottled at 46.3% and without the use of Chill Filtration or Caramel Colouring.
Smell: Malt, Fudge and Honey with Apples, Pears and a subtle hint of the Ocean.
Taste: Pepper, Fudge, Vanilla, Green Fruits and Sea Salt. Rich with good depth of flavour.
Thoughts: At £45 it’s perhaps a little more expensive than other standard 10-year-old malts but at 46.3% abv you get a bit more bang for your buck. For me that justifies the price. It’s a pleasant dram with subtle bourbon cask maturation allowing some of the natural coastal character to come through. Tobermory is like the polite sibling of the wilder Ledaig.