Having just recovered from the discovery of the new ADRNAMURCHAN distillery, I continue my journey towards Kilchoan.
Arrived in the village, I go to the ferry terminal surrounded by a turquoise water that even the Caribbean could envy. My faithful BRADPEAT and I board the Loch Linnhe for ½ hour crossing towards the island of Mull.
Our destination of the day, the TOBERMORY distillery to taste the 12 years old.
The arrival on the port of the town of Tobermory is a mixture of colors. The water is turquoise blue, the mountains green and the houses of the village beautifully colored. We are in the right place.
Avant de partir faire un tour plus au sud de l’ile au château de Duart et à l’ouest dans la grotte de Fingal sur l’ile Staffa (tiens tiens ça me rappelle une histoire de dégustation ça ! Cf. Arran Machrie Moor) je vais aller directement au plus près de moi, la distillerie.
Walking along the harbor and the colorful houses, I have a special impression. The scenery and the calm of this small port and the fact that the ferry captain told me about the mysterious galleons lying at the bottom of the water somewhere around the island, project me into the past in search of a whisky on Todday Island (like in the movie "Whisky galore" -NDLR-).
But here there is no shortage (in any case it lasted only two years the time it took to make the only distillery on the island beautiful again).
I quickly arrive in front of the distillery which is at the end of the village on the seaside. The work, which lasted two years, did not fundamentally change the appearance of the distillery (nor its production capacity, for that matter) but was aimed at rejuvenating and modernizing it.
Of course today I came for the 12 year old TOBERMORY, but facing the distillery's gate, my heart beats wildly because before being called Tobermory, the village where I am today was called .... Ledaig ("letchac" for pronunciation) ! and if you have been following me for some time you must know my level of appreciation of this distillate (see the tastings the LEDAIG 10 years old, LEDAIG 12 years old, LEDAIG 18 years old batch 2 and LEDAIG 21 years old Manzanilla ... quite a love story between him and me!)
But let's come back to Mull, today we won't taste peat (here produced from a malt from Port Elen by the way - another story yet...) but for a very classic but not the least bad whisky.
Since 2019 (and the resumption of production), the production of unpeat whisky from the well of Marie ("Tobar Mhoire" in Gaelic, doesn't that tell you anything?) has been officially offered in only one form: 12 years old and with only one title 46.3% (which according to the legend is the title where it expresses itself best). At Tobermory, the principle is clear, there is no point in producing 50 different distillates (even if a few casks and manzanilla finishes sometimes show the tip of their nose), so we might as well limit the range but do it well!
Maybe a way for the distillery to mark in the glass the two years of closure (indeed in its old configuration only the 10 years was proposed).
Without fuss or handle effect, the production (not peat) from the 4 stills (2 wash backs, and 2 very high and swan neck shaped mash tuns) is aged in bourbon casks and still gives it a beautiful golden amber color. Also, its specificity of being a sweet, fruity but nevertheless maritime whisky is due to the coastal position of the distillery.
What is it really like?
Already this distillate is advertised as not peated, but I suggest you slip a drop in your hand and you will see that this is not completely the case. You will smell a very light peaty but very sweet smell. You can let yourself imagine that the gods of peat, linger in the swan neck once the production of Ledaig is finished.
On the other hand, in the glass, there is no peat note. When the nose gradually plunges into the glass, it will discover large fruity notes, then slightly sulphurous notes and finally, once completely inside, an explosion of ripe fruit. One may note the morning maritime freshness of the port of Tobermory.
But as the sun is always present on the island of Mull, at the second passage the warmth of the distillate makes its appearance with a woody touch and especially fruity aromas of ripe oranges more present.
The third passage will be even more intense with vanilla and pepper aromas.
This whisky is like a Trojan horse. It enters the mouth gently without any aggressiveness (the 46.3% are indeed at the top). Then a first burst of citrus fruit makes its appearance with a taste of orange accompanied by a hint of lemon. A first soldier escapes from the horse and comes to plant a small clove on the side of the tongue.
Then it is a surge of sweetness and warmth, the soldiers get off the horse but they throw fudges all over the mouth. Thus comes the soft warmth of vanilla, honey, caramel! A sweet candy. But it is without counting on the last soldiers who come out of the horse throwing large handfuls of pepper that scatters on the palate and come to sound the death knell of the tasting.
Once the Hebrew troop has passed, it leaves its mark for quite a long time with a hint of harshness on the tongue but above all a beautiful note of vanilla in the throat.
Just one reference, but it's fair to say that the Isle of Mull team has nothing to be ashamed of!
It's time for me to continue towards the south of the island. I'm going to take the opportunity to go around the Lochbuie stone circle to see if I can see Bran the dog of Fingal (as on the Arran island where the stone circle is located and where the giant -NDLR- has also passed by in the past) before going back on the road for new tasting adventures.