Consider something else entirely.
The distillery was founded in 1798. Says so right on the front of the bottle, in large font. Larger font actually than the brand, 'Tobermory'. If I must confess, it's not a brand I was terribly familiar with. It was given to me as a gift, as whiskies often are.
Would I have bought it, with my own money? No, absolutely not, what? Are you kidding me? No. At this price, a whisky has to be very special to me. Something I've heard of, at least. At the very least.
The nose is alcohol and coughing. And sultanas. It tastes like alcohol, it burns, it's an assault on the palate. The flavors come through so fast and so thick it's hard to catch them all. Smoke, dirt, fruits, (berries mostly), wood; old wet wood, like licking the inside of an old boat hull; wet rope, spices. chocolate... why can I taste chocolate? And why does it taste like cheap synthesized chocolate 'flavour' that has been added?
It's over-stuffed. It's heavy. For me, it's just too much. It swings big, heavy punches, with zero subtly or grace. I don't see how this is what impresses people these days. Really? This is what impresses people? "Woozle-Wuzzle"? This is showy, overdone, loud, obnoxious stuff... It's like Robin Williams. Each sip is like sitting through an entire Robin Williams concert. I mean, even if you LOVE Robin Williams...
But this doesn't fit with the image of the quaint little island shore-side village where it's distilled. Something didn't sit.
OK, so then we move onto the bit where I looked the company up and I read a bit about them.
The company has gone bust several times. Bankruptcy and what not. And wars. It has been re-opened with new owners again and again. I have to wonder what of the original originality of the brand remains after 200+ years of the company going bust, sitting boarded up for years, being re-bought, going bust again, over and over.
I mean, is it still that original Tobermory from 1798? It's the same distillery, sure. The same bricks. The same... casks and what have you, sure. And they say they still don't use peat or something? I don't know, it still tasted peaty to me. How much of the original method and tradition remains? How can tradition and methodology be handed down when the place is laying empty for a generation?
I think it's just a brand at this point. A carefully marketed brand, priced into that zone where 'Oh, it must be good'.
The distillery's current operations began in 1991. It had been sitting unused for some time at that point, and the warehouse (where the whisky is matured) had been sold off, leveled, and houses were built there. So now there's nowhere for the whisky to sit and mature, near the shores of the island, where it can take on the scent of the ocean, the salty spray of the sea mist, the squawking of gulls and, let's not forget, the laughter of lovers on the beach in the summer time. That's key in whisky making on the Isles.
So with no local warehouse these days the whisky is taken onto the mainland of Scotland, well-away from the shore, away from the distillery, where it's put in a warehouse in an industrial estate where one can gain reasonable prices on warehouses these days. There it sits and takes on diesel fumes and fluorescent lighting, and that beeping sound that forklifts make when they go in reverse. No lovers laughing. For 15 years. And somehow it's going UP in value as it sits there?? Please. Are you REALLY going to tell me that part of the reason you pay so much for fancy Scotch has nothing to do with the fact that it's made at the sea and it can hear gulls while it matures? OK man, fine, whatever, you pay top dollar for some stuff that's just been sitting in a factory in that part of Scotland where they filmed Trainspotting.
Look, there's a point to aging it. Things happen... and stuff, during that time. If you stick in a factory that's cheapening it, not enriching it. You sucker. That's all I'm saying.
It's all just rich businessmen capitalizing on a ruined distillery
31st January 2014