From early fall to Christmas, not very many days went by that I didn't have a least two gins—and sometimes five. And before you stage an intervention, please know that I was judging the Canadian Artisan Spirits Competition and, yes, I was spitting. Mostly.
But it underscores just what a key role gin plays in both our local and national craft spirits scene. No other craft distillers have achieved so much, so quickly, as those making small batch gin. There's almost no style of gin that we don't make. Love the elegant perfumed citrus of Tanqueray No. 10? The balanced, slight savouriness of Hendrick's? There's a craft gin that walks the same walk. I say almost, because even through all that craft gin tasting, I didn't come across a gin that mirrored the new offering from Tobermory.
Single malt fans will need no introduction to the brand, which has been around in various guises since 1798. It's on the Isle of Mull, which is way off the beaten track even by Scottish standards. And their whisky always enjoyed a major cult following (I for one have a bottle of the rare 15-year-old I bought at Willow Park about a dozen years ago that has about three ounces in the bottom that I refuse to finish, knowing I can never get them back). So when they announce they were making gin, it was sort of a big deal, especially because The Botanist, the gin produced from Bruichladdich on the somewhat neighbouring island of Islay, is one of the few imports I'll still pay $50 for.
Tobermory gin has even personality. In addition to the expected dominant juniper and citrus peel, there's an unexpected round mouthfeel that you sometime get in a well-made potato vodka—almost creamy and soft, with very few edges. Here it comes from using a dose of the new make spirit that in 12 years will become Tobermory Whisky.
It's solidly unique—I wouldn't use it in a negroni, but it could be part of a majorly complex martini?
It's available at Legacy Liquor as well as other private stores.