...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Mathilda Malt: Tobermory 32 year old 1972, red label

And now back to selfish reviews of impossible-to-find scotch.

Part of what makes this 32yo Tobermory impossible-to-find is its actual scarcity. The other thing that labels it impossible-to-find is (SPOILER ALERT) its quality. It's a dark rich old whisky that hasn't lost all of the original spirit's character nor grown tannic. It's also sulphur-free, for those concerned about that.

A little bit of history:

Tobermory/Ledaig distillery has a habit of closing. It was open from 1798-1837, then closed until 1878. It ran until 1930, when it closed. It reopened in 1972, then closed in 1975. It reopened in 1979, then stopped production three years later. It started up again in 1989, running until 2017 when the doors shut for two years of repairs. It reopened this year.

The 1972 reboot marked a year or two of whisky that is beloved by older generations of single malt geeks. I have no real opinion about the 1972 Tobermory (known then as Ledaig) malts. I had one previous to today's '72. It was very good, but I've found Tobermory/Ledaig's output to be very good during more recent years as well, and cheaper and available. Still, when Cobo sent me a treasure box of samples a while back, I was very very excited to see this whisky.

Thank you, Cobo!
Distillery name now: Tobermory
Distillery name then: Ledaig
Ownership now: Distell International
Ownership then: Ledaig Distillery Ltd.
Region: Isle of Mull
Age: 32 years (1972 - 2005)
Maturation: "finished in oloroso sherry casks"
Outturn: 1,710 bottles
Bottle number: 443
Alcohol by Volume: 49.5%
There are a few official 1972 Tobermories. This is the one with the red label.

The nose is calm, almost patient, revealing aspects gradually. Pipe tobacco, moss, coal smoke and dunnage. Cocoa powder, dried cherries, Carpano Antica. A hint of dried cheese. Mild medicinal notes drift through the background. The palate moves more boldly. Tar, cigars and coal smoke. Dried cherries and golden raisins floating in Underberg. In-season plums and blackberries. The walls of a moldy dunnage (You mean you haven't licked them? He asks.). The finish holds that balance of cigars / coal smoke / dunnage + dried berries / fresh berries / fresh plums. And "no tannin tongue?!?"

Yeah, I don't know how long this was "finished" in sherry casks, but there ain't no other sherry "finish" like this. Mercy. This is beautiful whisky. The 1990 Littlemill, though very good, did not stand a chance against it. I think the Tobermory goes for $800-$1000 on the secondary market and, though I won't comment on that price, I do agree it is luxurious. It made me close my MacBook, lean back in my chair, watch the rain fall softly against the window and think of absolutely nothing. Upstairs, Mathilda was having her quiet time. Downstairs, Papa was having his.

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - $800-$1000
Rating - 93

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