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Tobermory Distillery was founded in 1798 by a kelp merchant named John Sinclair. It began life as a brewery named Ledaig but Sinclair always planned to distil. He was one of the first to register after the passing of the Excise Act of 1823.
The distillery has had its fair share of difficulties over the years. Multiple changes in ownership, lengthy periods of closure and the sale of warehouses in the 1980s caused great instability. Not all problems have been historic, however. In 2012, an unusually dry spell of weather cause low levels in the Loch that provides the distillery’s water. The end result was a complete halt in production. The team at the distillery had no option but to wait for the return of rain.
Earlier this year it was announced that operations would cease again, this time for up to two years. The closure was to allow essential maintenance to be carried out on the site. Significant investment would update the distillery and improve the visitor experience. Quite what this will mean for the availability of the whisky in the short term remains to be seen but it should cement the distillery’s production for many years to come.
Now part of Distell’s Burn Stewart stable, along with Deanston and Bunnahabhain, there are two single malt brands produced at the distillery. The Tobermory is unpeated while Ledaig is a heavily peated version. Both are bottled un-chill-filtered at a standard strength of 46.3%.
Smell: Smoke, Seaweed and Brine. Notes of Vanilla, Cream and Lemon fighting through the smog.
Taste: Brine again with a good hit of Pepper, Salted Caramel, Fudge, Honey and waves of pungent Peat Smoke.
Thoughts: This is a quality peated dram for a very reasonable price. Its affordability makes it all the more appealing as other peated whiskies, from Islay, in particular, soar in price. Ledaig is a really distinctive dram. To my palate, it’s possibly the most coastal of all malts. Pulteney calls itself the Maritime Malt but it can’t hold a candle to Ledaig’s seaside bluster. It almost competes with Laphroaig for sheer uniqueness. It’s pungent and maritime and it comes closer to Islay than any other non-Islay whisky. For a fan of smoky Scotch such as myself, Ledaig proves a fine option that continues to improve each time I come across it.
*If the whisky reviewed in this article has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make after following links from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.