Tobermory, Isle of Mull,
PA75 6NR Scotland
Tel: +44 (0)1688 302645
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Tobermory Distillery originated as a brewery and was founded
in 1798 by John Sinclair. Its location on the picturesque
Isle of Mull is in the harbour village of Tobermory - a
charming seaside fishing area. In 1823, the brewery was
converted into a distillery. Both the distillery and village
were initially known as 'Ledaig (pronounced Led-chig). The
name translates from the Gaelic tongue and translates to
'Safe Haven' - aptly named after the area on which the distillery
sits, neatly sheltered in Tobermory Bay. Tobermory is derived
from the Gaelic "Tobar Mhoire", which means 'Well
of Mary' and refers to the well and chapel of St. Mary.
The Isle of Mull - simply referred to as Mull - is on the
west coast of Scotland and is regarded as one of the most
beautiful of the Hebrides.
Throughout Tobermory's history, it has had several different
owners and has gone through long periods of inactivity.
In 1878 after 41 years of silence, the distillery was purchased
by John Hopkins & Company. In 1916, Distillers Company
Limited (DCL) acquired the company and in 1930, production
had come to a halt. The Ledaig Distillery Limited bought
Tobermory in 1972 and then three years later went into receivership.
The business was then acquired in 1978 by the Kirkleavington
Property Co. of Cleckheaton. Production resumed in 1979,
but then fell silent again in 1985 and resumed again in
In 1993, Tobermory was purchased by Burn Stewart Distillers
Ltd - a fully integrated Scotch whisky producer and brand
owner with three single malt whisky distilleries and a strong
portfolio of Scotch whisky brands. Burn Stewart is Tobermory's
present day owner.
Of all the whisky distilling regions of Scotland (Speyside,
Highland, Islay, the various Islands, Lowland, Campbeltown),
only Tobermory and Ledaig represent an opportunity to experience
malt whisky from this particular region. Tobermory, which
is distilled from unpeated malted barley and allowed to
mature in oak casks for a minimum of 10 years, is light
amber in colour, with a fresh, lightly peated smoky nose.
The palate is medium-dry, smooth and fruity, with a rich
and well-rounded finish. Many Island and Islay malts tend
to be heavily peated. Tobermory, however, is only lightly
peated, drawing its overtones only from the water on the
Island. This makes it particularly easy to drink, and is
why it serves as the perfect introduction to Island Malt
Ledaig, unlike Tobermory, is distilled from heavily peated
malted barley. During the malting process, burning peat
is used to dry the barley in a kiln. The reek from the burning
peat is absorbed by the barley through the husk of the grain,
and the reek remains through the mashing, fermentation and
distillation processes, eventually leading to a superior
single malt with a highly distinctive peaty, smoky taste.
That malt is Ledaig, a superb, intricate Island malt Scotch
In February of 1998, the highly regarded American spirits
magazine Wine Spectator featured the results of
a "blind" tasting during which 39 of the most
popular and established single malt Scotch whiskies were
compared. Of the 39 malts tasted, 5 were deemed to be so
good that they merited Classic status, while the rest were
divided into the categories "Outstanding", "Very
Good" and "Others". Both malts from the Tobermory
Distillery, Tobermory and Ledaig, were awarded "Classic"
status, with the following judges comments:
Tobermory: "Spicy and exciting. A malt with hay, salt
and butter and hints of earth and wood. Concentrated and
full of flavour. Superlong aftertaste. Got to love this."
Ledaig: "Beautifully balanced and poised. From Tobermory.
Lovely, fresh aromas of honey, cereal, peat and hay. Summery
and beautiful. Medium to full-bodied, with gorgeous floral
flavours. Dry finish."