Phil and Simon Thomson, the founders of Dornoch Distillery, are well known in the whisky industry. Independent bottlers, they’re also the owners of the famous Dornoch Castle Hotel Bar, which boasts a fantastic selection of bottles. The Thomson Brothers have already released more than 370 bottles and are known for their indy bottling branch, which usually releases whiskies through a ballot as they are highly sought after. In 2017, they started producing their own whisky at Dornoch Distillery, which has already gained a reputation for producing an already internationally acclaimed single malt whisky. The Thomson Brothers have recently been granted permission to build a new distillery in Dornoch South, which will be carbon-neutral and sustainable. But it’s their indy bottling branch that interests us today, as we try an Islay Blended Malt 2009 that the Thomson Brothers released in 2021.
Islay Blended Malt 2009 Thomson Brothers Review
This Blended Malt Scotch Whisky is distilled on the Isle of Islay. It was distilled in 2009 and matured for 12 years, with the last four or five years in a Miguel Martin Oloroso Butt since 10/11/2016, before being bottled in 2021. The finishing butt gave an outturn of 661 bottles, filled at 55.7% ABV, without chill filtration nor fake colouring. The label features the Kilarrow Parish Church, located in Bowmore, the Kildalton Cross, located near Ardbeg, and a ferry (which could arrive either in Port Ellen or Port Askaig). The whisky is still available in Germany and Italy, from €150, which is a significant markup from the original €80 recommended retail price. On a Facebook post, Thomson Bros tagged Lagavulin and Caol Ila, so the winks to Bowmore and Ardbeg might have been traps!
Neat: The nose of Islay Blended Malt 2009 Thomson Bros is quite intense on the first sniff. You can guess from the colour that the Oloroso butt was quite active, and it is on the nose as well. I noticed the scent of rancio, blackcurrant jam, cherry liqueur, chimney soot, orange peel, freshly tanned leather, and wine gums.
With water: The peat goes a step forward, with more smoke and soot, cured meat, and maybe the slightest touch of sulphur.
Neat: The palate has a thick and creamy texture. The heavily peated character is prominent, complemented by a significant influence of Oloroso. I found blackberries, wood spices, ginger, clove, nutmeg, along with quince jam, Demerara sugar, strong espresso, ash, and burnt wood. It’s lovely but not for the faint of heart.
With water: The flavour profile intensifies with added spice and saltiness, leaning towards raw wood, while the fruit notes tend to fade away.
Notes of espresso, dark chocolate, raw oak, a touch of salt, and dark cherries. Whilst most flavours have a relatively short duration, the lingering sootiness persists for an extended period.
This Islay Blended Malt 2009 from Thomson Brothers showcases distinct characteristics. It’s heavily peated, moderately sherried (though not overwhelmingly so), and really good. I find it most enjoyable neat, as the addition of a few drops of water subtly introduced a note of sulphur on the nose and diminished its fruity undertones on the palate. While I would have liked to own a bottle of this Islay Blended Malt, the price listed by some shops, nearly twice the RRP, dissuades me from actively seeking it out.