Tobermory Distillery was founded in 1798 by a kelp merchant named John Sinclair. The site began life as a brewery named Ledaig, though Sinclair always planned to distill and was one of the earliest men to register after the passing of the Excise Act of 1823.
The distillery has had it’s fair share of difficulties over the years. Multiple changes in ownership, lengthy periods of closure and the sale of the warehouses in the 1980’s have all contributed to it’s somewhat troubled life. Even as recently as 2012, an unusually dry spell of weather led to exceptionally low water levels in the Loch that provides the distilleries water source, eventually resulting in the complete halt of production. The team at the distillery had no option but to wait it out for a sufficient rainfall to restore the Loch.
Earlier this year it was announced that operations would cease at Tobermory for up to two years while some essential maintenance was carried out on the site. Quite what this will mean for the availability of the whisky in the short term remains to be seen but crucially, it should cement the distilleries production capabilities for many years to come.
Now part of the Distell’s Burn Stewart stable, along with Deanston and Bunnahabhain, there are two single malt brands produced onsite… The Tobermory is unpeated while Ledaig is a heavily peated version. Both are bottled un chill filtered at 46.3%.
Smell: Smoke, Seaweed and Brine with 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.
Value for Money: Very high quality peated dram for a very reasonable price. Worth bearing in mind, as the price of some other heavily peated drams soar.
Overall: 44 / 50.
Competes with Laphroaig for sheer uniqueness. Pungent and maritime, it comes closer to Islay than any other peated dram and, for a fan of the smoke such as myself, proves a fine alternative that continues to improve each time I come across it.