So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

Tobermory 1972 / 2004, Lombard Jewels of Scotland

The distillery we know as Tobermory today was reconstructed in 1972, and recommenced production in the same year. You might have heard glowing reviews of 1972 Ledaig – Ledaig being the peated version of Tobermory, but I have not heard the reverence for 1972 Tobermory. Why’s that I wonder.

The original Tobermory, which was called Ledaig back then, was built on Mull back in 1798, making it one of the granddaddies of distilleries. Being located in Mull, Tobermory is a close neighbour to Islay and Jura to the south. It’s history is riddled with huge periods of dormancy that mirrored the ups and downs of the industry, but by 1916, the distillery was  owned by John Hopkins & Co which was acquired by DCL, who closed it again in 1930.

The modern distillery was refurbished and reopened in 1972, again under the name of Ledaig, and its ill luck was such that it was closed again in 1975. So glorious peated 70s Ledaig is all produced within this short 3 year window.

From 1978 – 1982, the distilery, now under a holding company named Tobermory Distillery Ltd, and production restarted in 1989.

Finally in 1991, Burns Stewart purchased the distillery, and began refurbishing and investing to improve production. Up to this point there had been wide variations in the peating level of Ledaig, but this was standardized and modern Ledaig is peated to around 30-40 ppm. The varied use of the name Tobermory for a blend, a vatted malt as well as single malt at various points in its history has understandably led to great confusion over those old bottles.

The newmake itself undergoes a bit of a tour, being sent to Deanston first for bottling, then off to Bunnahabhain for maturation.


Tobermory 1972 / 2004, Lombard Jewels of Scotland, 46%


Nose  Nose: Warm vanilla creme, and strong spice with pepper or mace, to the point where it’s spirity even. Unexpected from a 32 year old? Also a big stale perfume note, like wilted purple flowers caked in wet talc then left to moulder. Can’t quite get rid of that note. Crushed leaves also present, with cut green apples. Peat is also there but hangs like a dull gong in the air, it does speak quite clearly of its coastal roots. Salt water, smoke and wet sand.

Taste Palette: Dry and light bodied, really bitter woodiness and rancid herbs, that big stale perfume note has coalesced into a liquid rankness that pushes up through the nose. I’ve got it. It’s grandma’s perfume. Quite a spectacular off note really, memorable in its mouldiness. No. 1972? Come on.

Finish  Finish: Medium short. Dry and old wilted flowers in mourning for the thing it might have been, but alas is not.

Score -20


1972 Tobermory, what a pity, I was expecting so much. Something about that stale perfume note gets to me, I can’t even imagine having it with food. Not sure I even want to mix this with the bottle ends blend.

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This entry was posted on April 26, 2014 by in Tobermory and tagged , .
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