Don't Mull It Over
We've got a few new weird wonderful little malts from the beautiful Isle of Mull on the western coast of Scotland.
Tobermory 21 Year Old "Manzanilla Finish" Unfiltered Cask Strength Island Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($239.99)
A gorgeous example of Cask Strength fully aged unpeated malt from the Tobermory Distillery. It's been finished in one of the rarest casks in scotland, Manzanilla Fino Sherry. The Manzanilla cask is unusual not only because of their rarity, but also because of the unique flavor profile it provides. You'd expect that ultra dry salty sherry to turn the briny side of the Tobermory malt up to eleven, but instead we see more nuttiness than brine. There's tons of dried, maybe lightly salted stone fruits, and a dense, almost thick mouthfeel. I'm not sure if that comes from the sherry or simply the age of the whisky, but the oily texture and wild flavor profile make it one of the most unusual new whiskies this year. Considering the 15-year sells typically for an astonishing $140+, this cask strength full throttle and no holds barred version is a real treat for any adventurous drinker despite the price tag. While we've purchased every bottle we could, collectors have already cleaned out most of the east coast. With the lowest price in California by a healthy margins and no additional stock on the horizon this will be a fun yet fleeting experiment.
Another well aged Sherry finished peater from the Tobermory distillery. These guys have really turned up the quality in the last several years, taking good aged stock and filling them into ultra high-end Sherry barrels to give them that extra little something. For those wanting that peat and Sherry combo there's very little out there in the same range, particularly if you don't want the sappy sweetness added by PX (I'm thinking Lagavulin DE). Yet the Ledaig has a ton of the same dark nuttiness that you'd expect from a fine Oloroso cask and just the right amount of stewed fruit to keep it from feeling hard edged. The last vintage was an absolute sleeper and I've had several customers come back asking for it. Now we've got the whisky back one year older and just as delicious. One of the most unusual and distinct offerings from any distillery to date.
One of the most unusual and distinct offerings from any distillery to date. I can't remember the last time we saw peated Whisky in Marsala casks, but it may have been back in the good old days of Murray McDavid and their range of Ace'd malts. While I expected the Marsala to add tons of sweetness, we've actually moved much further into the sauvage quality that Ledaig is sometimes known for. Lamb drippings over smoking embers. Big smoldering spice sprinkled over a well aged gouda. Wild and structured on the palate with more of the savory stuff, green peppercorns, mulled wine, tart red fruit. This malt reminds me a bit of a Christmas dinner in London's West End, maybe one to save for cool weather, but this is undoubtedly one of the most interesting and most arresting malts of the year.