Yes, I am quoting Gerard Manley Hopkins, the immortal poet, in the title of this review. I could not resist. This dram is the achieve of, and the mastery of the thing we call olfactory and gustatory delight in the glass when it comes to the living waters we know as "whisky."
I opened my bottle of Tobermory 15 tonight and was not disappointed. It is everything I remember from the glass I bought at the Highland Stillhouse a month ago, and more.
Yes, it's a "sherry bomb" but the explosion is exquisitely refined on the tongue. This dram is worth the money, and it comes at a steep price, considering it is only a 15 year. T 15 costs the same in the USA as a 21 year Old Pultney! So I do not state this observation lightly. I own a bottle of 21 year Old Pultney. I find the 15 year Tobermory to be worth the money.
Now, as for the Sherry Bomb mention, I find that this dram is the perfect compliment to Aberlour A. How? The A'bunadh is fireworks to Tobermory's sophisticated understatement.
Boom! Hiss. . . .
Which is better? Well, it depends upon your mood, but the Tobermory is perhaps a little bit closer to perfection for me. The T 15 is utterly dependable, whereas the Aberlour A. depends upon the batch. . . .
Nose: Sherry, sherry of the highest sort, Exquisito Doble Capa cigar tobacco, cream. Would I smoke a Crown David cigar with this dram? Most definitely. The Exquisito Doble Capa is an excellent combination with this dram. I just finished the cigar with two glasses. Beautiful. Just beautiful. Why did I fetch this cigar from my humidor? Because the dram reminded me of it! It called for it! It "spoke" to me, so to speak, and told me to go get this precise cigar, and I answered the calling, fetching it, lighting, it, smoking it, with this dram. . . .
Palate: the finest sherry, Jaciva toffee, barley, Ecuadorian dark chocolate, the perfect "burn" with no water.
Finish: Long, deep, delightful, hint of cherries, the perfect "burn" not to much not to little, long long long, finally a hint of mocha and Stump Town House Blend coffee.
Color and appearance in the glass? Well, GM Hopkins' poem, "The Windhover," pretty much sums it all up:
"No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion."
This whisky is starting to seem overly sweet to me as time wears on. For instance, I just can't drink this in the same sitting with Ardmore Traditional Cask. I think it is over-priced for a 15 year. For instance, a bottle of Glenfarclas 21 year can be had for about the same price in Oregon, USA. The Farc 21 seems like a much better balanced sherry bomb to me than the Tobermory 15.
Also, the cork diameter in the T15 seems a bit small for the bottle. I have concerns that the whisky inside might go bad over a normally reasonable amount of time for whisky to sit on a shelf even if the level inside the bottle is well over half.
The nose on this whisky is extraordinary, however. One evening, I found myself smelling it as though the nose had some sort of intoxicating effect in and of itself. I just could not stop smelling the nose repeatedly. Delightful.
So, T15 is not the woman you'd marry, but the date was lovely and you won't be throwing out her number just yet.
I did some speed dating tonight, setting the bar high straight out with a dram of Talisker 18 to start, a very short Wasmund's Single Malt Whisky just to double-check my impressions from last night, then a very patient dram with the goddess Highland Park 18 and a circuitous ride home from my gal Longrow 7 Gaja Barolo. It was a good night, but, alas, it ends!