Tobermory is the only distillery on the Scottish Ilse of Mull and is located in the middle of the eponymous capital of Mull. Tobermory is one of the oldest active distilleries in Scotland.
Two different lines of whisky are produced at Tobermory: on the one hand Tobermory whisky with just a hint of smokiness, on the other hand the peated Ledaig whisky. In the past a very heavily peated version called Iona was offered in small numbers.
The standard bottlings of both the Tobermory and Ledaig label are 10-year-old single malts, but there are also other original bottlings, such as Tobermory 15 and Ledaig 18.
Tobermory 10 years old is an intense and aromatic single malt with a fruity and floral character, spicy notes such as ginger and aniseed, slightly nutty aromas and a medium-long finish. It is non chill filtered and without artificial colouring.
Ledaig 10 years old combines peat smoke with malty aromas, citrus fruits, pepper and maritime notes. Its character is reminiscent of an Islay malt. It is also non chill filtered and without artificial colouring.
Beside these original bottlings from Burn Stewart Distillers, which was bought by the South African Distell Group in 2013, there are a lot of independent bottlings of Tobermory and Ledaig on the market.
Since the new South African owners took over, the annual production has been set to 750,000 litres of alcohol, which is split evenly between Tobermory and Ledaig. Tobermory doesn't operate at full capacity, which would be 1 million litres per year.
Mishnish Loch in the hills behind the distillery is the distillery’s water source. The Tobermory River carries the water past the distillery and was also used as its power supply in the past. The water is interspersed with peaty phenols that give Tobermory a slightly phenolic character although the malt used for Tobermory whisky is unpeated. The malting floors have been closed long ago.
Tobermory uses an old cast-iron mash tun with a capacity of 5 tons.
Fermentation takes place over a period of 50 to 90 hours in four wash backs made of Oregon pine wood, which have a total capacity of 92,000 litres.
The Tobermory Distillery uses two pairs of pot stills. One of the pairs was renewed in 2014. The two wash stills have a capacity of about 18,000 litres each; the spirit stills are just slightly smaller, with a capacity of about 16,000 litres.
Tobermory has only little storage space so the casks are stored in the sister distillery Deanston near Doune.
Having been established in 1798, Tobermory is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. Back then, John Sinclair named his distillery 'Ledaig', which is Gaelic for 'safe haven'. The small town that Sinclair had chosen for his distillery was a small fishing harbour in a quiet bay – a veritable 'safe haven'.
The distillery had ups and downs over the course of history. It was mothballed, reopened and sold again and again. The last long production halt lasted from 1930 until 1972. After thorough renovations the newly founded Ledaig Distillery Ltd. reopened the distillery. However, three years later it went bankrupt. But this time production wasn't halted for long, and in 1979 Tobermory Distillers Ltd., which was founded by the buyers, Kirkleavington Property, resumed production. But again, they couldn't last longer than three years.
When Burn Stewart Distillers, who also own Bunnahabhain and Deanston, took over Tobermory in 1993, a more stable era seemed to have begun. But the only constant thing in life is change, and Burn Stewart was bought by CL Financial for 50 million pounds in 2002.
The subsequent years were successful, and when Burn Stewart were again sold (this time to the South African Distell Group Ltd.), their value had already increased to 160 million pounds.
Isle of Mull
Monday - Friday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday/Sunday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Distillery tours start on the hour during opening hours.
Reservation is recommended: 0044 (0) 168 830 2647
Tobermory Tour: tour of the distillery including a farewell dram of Tobermory 10 years. Duration: 45 minutes, £8.00 per person.
Tobermory Classic Tour: tour of the distillery including tow farewell drams of Tobermory 10 years and Ledaig 10 years, duration: 45 minutes, £10.00 per person.