Tobermory Distillery Virtual Tasting Experience
On Friday night we attended a virtual tasting experience with Tobermory Distillery. This particular tasting was a sherry influence theme. It featured five drams, starting with their new make spirit and then following the journey through all the way to a 23 y/o oloroso finish.
For the virtual tasting we were joined by brand ambassadors and other guests via Zoom. It was a lovely intimate experience, with lots of opportunity to ask questions and share tasting notes. It almost felt as though we were being treated to a private tour! At each stage all the ‘whisky terms’ were explained to us – making it very accessible for newcomers.
The evening started with a some history about the distillery. We were particularly interested to learn how the distillery makes two individual single malts – Ledaig and Tobermory. Throughout the 12 months of each year they have two distinct periods – one focused on the non-peated Tobermory spirit, and the other on the peated Ledaig. Between these two periods they have a thorough clean down of all the equipment to make sure there is no cross contamination.
As a small distillery – they only make 750,000 litres of spirit each year! – they have a small core range, and make a number of limited edition expressions. We were lucky enough to taste two of these over the course of the evening. It was explained that they like to show their creativity through the cask finish of their whiskies, and will do more experimentation in that area as opposed to age.
Starting with the new make spirit was different for us. However, it really helped demonstrate the journey the spirit goes on, and established a base line for what ‘Tobermory’ tastes like.
New Make Spirit – Clearic, 63.5%
Nose: fruity, orange zest, salty air
Palate: rich fruit throughout, and a very rounded mouth feel
Finish: malty fruit
Clearly not something to buy and enjoy as a dram on its own! But it was great to try the beginning of the process to help understand the ageing process and what casks give the whiskies. If you get the opportunity to try it definitely do as it is a good educational piece.
Tobermory 12 – 46.3%
Nose: pear and apple, baking spices and vanilla, really lovely and fruity on the nose
Palate: stewed orchard fruits, hints of wood, vanilla, a smooth quite light mouth feel
Finish: orange peel, honey, vanilla and oak spice
Of the four different whiskies we tried – this is their core range, and isn’t finished in sherry. As a part of the educational experience it was helpful to see where a Tobermory whisky gets to without the sherry influence. A really nice whisky, smooth and comforting yet full of character. This is very likely to become a staple in our house and I can see why my brother enjoys this distillery. The fruity notes throughout carry you from nose to finish and at each stage the ex bourbon cask adds vanilla and honey. Would highly recommend this and it’s a very accessible price.
Tobermory 11 Sherry Finish – 62.4%
Nose: lots of floral notes with hints of caramel and orange oil
Palate: oily mouth feel, lots of plum and peaches from the sherry cask finish
Finish: woody spice, the plums and dates tail off and the orange peel rounds the dram off
This whisky is distilled into bourbon casks for 9 of it’s 11 years where it is then moved into the sherry casks. It really does create a wonderful whisky. With only 1,356 being bottles being created it is a whisky to have and savour, a real show piece! It is a cask strength however, it isn’t tongue wrenching, still smooth and enjoyable. Adding a couple of drops of water really does open it up. Letting it breathe again adds another level all together.
Tobermory 12 PX – 62.1%
Nose: candied fruits, vanilla, hints of cherry – given the ABV this is really sweet on the nose
Palate: creamy oh so creamy, dried fruits and honey – lovely rich mouth feel
Finish: lots of citrus with underlying vanilla, woody pepperiness to finish
A great whisky and another cask strength. It’s final 11 months of ageing are in the PX sherry casks and that’s what makes this whisky so inviting. Those 11 months add character, fruity flavours and lots of vanillas. The magic of the master distiller has created a cask strength whisky which doesn’t grab your throat and hit you with a high alcohol content. It’s still smooth with a little oaky pepper on the finish. In contrast to the 11 y/o this dram didn’t require water to open up the flavours. Another limited edition with only 1,324 being made … we highly recommend trying to get your hands on a bottle!
Tobermory 23 Oloroso – 46.3%
Nose: honey, vanilla, cocoa, oranges and rich fruit cake
Palate: Creamy salted caramel, crunchie bar and rich fruit cake
Finish: vanilla and chocolate, the fruit cakes finishes
A really interesting whisky and given we had tried a number of 20+ year old last week it was great to have this. A costly whisky but worth it, it started life as the Tobermory 15 however, was then aged further and finished in the Gonzales Byass Sherry casks in 2014. It’s so smooth and creamy offering lots of flavour, if I am ever in a position to part with this much money for a whisky I wouldn’t hesitate with this one. Get yourself some drams or if you’re lucky enough certainly get a bottle for your shelf.
We had a lovely time trying these different whiskies and felt really privilege to have such an intimate experience with the distillery staff. They have a number of other tastings coming up, and we are definitely thinking about joining – the Warehouse experience has especially caught our eye!
When the world opens back up again, Tobermory is definitely on our list for a proper distillery tour. Let us know in the comments what tours you think we should go on!