Tobermory Distillery has been around since 1823 but has been closed for nearly half that time, considering the number of spells it has been non-functional. The only distillery on the incredibly beautiful Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland, Tobermory is now owned by Burn Stewart Distillers.
The distillery, earlier known as Ledaig Distillery is located in Tobermory, the capital of Mull. Tobermory is a village of stunning beauty and the distillery is at the end of a road along the sea front with a number of quaint houses painted in different colors. It is located at the foot of a steep hill and is the first structure one sees as one enters the village
Tobermory or Ledaig (pronounced lay-check) began in 1798 when John Sinclair started Ledaig Distillery. The buildings that were erected during its first period of operation still exist today. Production continued until 1826. The distillery was operational and shut intermittently during the mid 1800s. In 1878 it was acquired by John Hopkins and Company. This company itself was acquired by Distillers Company Limited in1916. Production continued till 1930 when once again the distillery fell silent.
In 1972 the distillery was bought by a Ledaig Distillery Limited. Unfortunately this company went into receivership and production was halted three years later in1975. It was revived again in 1979 when it was bought over by Kirkleavington Property Company. The distillery functioned till 1985 when it fell silent yet again. Production was restarted in 1989.The distillery was bought by its current owners, Burn Stewart Distillers in 1993.
Running an island distillery can be difficult because of transportation problems. The malted barley comes from the mainland and when supplies do not reach, it has to be brought from the Isle of Islay. Unfortunately the original warehouse was sold off and converted into flats. The whisky is now matured at the mainland warehouse of Burn Stewart at Deanston outside Stirling. This has been done to make Tobermory economically viable but a visit to this distillery unfortunately, does not include the customary look at the casks with maturing whisky.
The distillery has some interesting features such as an iron mashtuns with traditional rakes and Oregon pine washbacks. The lyne arms at the top of the stills are not set at the normal shallow angle but at a 90 degree turn. This makes it difficult for the spirit to evaporate and escape out of the still. It repeatedly falls back into the still, resulting in a light clean spirit.
Tobermory's flagship product is their 10 year old Tobermory the Malt Scotch Whisky, unpeated malt presented in a bottle with an enameled label. They also produce Ledaig, peated malt. A bourbon wood matured bottling and a sherry wood matured bottling are also available. They also have a Tobermory blended Scotch whisky. Single malts from this distillery have been bottled by the independent bottlers under the older name, Ledaig.