This Tobermory 15 Year – Spanish Oak was part of the rarities collection: six releases with colourful boxes and rather unique maturation. In this case the whisky was matured in ex-bourbon casks and given a second maturation of almost 4 years in Spanish brandy casks.
Spanish brandy can go in different directions. Different areas have different traditions, from spirity to deeply sherried when talking about Brandy de Jerez. In any case, the high ABV of this spirit means the casks are seasoned in a significantly different way than with wine or sherry.
Roughly speaking, a high ABV brandy will play in the same league as the whisky that comes after it: it will filter out components from the wood that would hardly be touched by a lower strength wine (and that would normally be absorbed by the whisky). At the same time a brandy has a limited additive effect compared to sherry for instance. In short a brandy finish is often less complementary to the whisky in my experience.
Tobermory 15 yo – Spanish Oak (46,3%, OB 2018)
Nose: not bad, but much lighter than a typical sherry finish. Boozy cake, walnuts, marmalade and orange peel. Sour grapes and maritime notes. Moist grasses and hints of musty wood.
Mouth: lemony, leathery and spicy (pepper, nutmeg), quickly showing the typical quirky Tobermory notes. Earthy notes, some bitter oranges. A beer-like note. Also mineral / coastal touches and wax.
Finish: fairly long, quite fresh with lemons and herbal tea.
Not a classic whisky, and supposedly more typical of a brandy finish than Spanish oak in general. That said, it’s quite an interesting experiment, not without its merits. Still available from Master of Malt.