Tasting Notes: The Scalasaig – Island Hopper (Tobermory 2013)

A couple of years ago we wrote about the launch of an exciting new brand of whisky: The Scalasaig. Their first bottling was a blended malt scotch whisky and that marriage of malts celebrated all that the Scottish isles and coastal distilleries had to offer – blending 10 distilleries’ wares in total – all contributing to their “Maiden Voyage.” That nautical theme was enhanced by some stunning artwork depicting the “Island Hopper” boat in vintage poster/postcard style.

Island Hopper

In 2022, Keith Bonnington (with his Colonsay Beverages hat on) and team launched 2x single malts under the Scalasaig Island Hopper banner, both continuing that fantastic artwork and theme of island exploration. The two malts are an 8 year old Tobermory from the Isle of Mull, and a 29 year old Jura. Here we are looking at the first entry into the single distillery series: Tobermory 2013 Vintage.

This single malt contains a vatting of 4x Sherry hogsheads of unpeated Tobermory spirit from the same vintage. These casks were then collected together and finished in the same Oloroso Sherry casks as the Maiden Voyage for their final 18 months. The run is limited to 1,450 bottles, and they have been captured in 2021 at 46.5% ABV, without chill-filtration or colouring, available at an RRP of £67.00.

The Scalasaig – Island Hopper – Tobermory 2013


Quite a distinct waxy initial smell that makes me think of rubber stamps. Thats accompanied by perfume-like sherbet sweetness and barley sugars. Then there are some herbal and spicy notes underneath it all. Some dark chocolate bitterness. A little citrus poking through. Lots going on and each set of experiences revealing themselves in little waves (containing the nautical theme).


That sherbet flavour hits straight away with a sweetness and fizzle that reminds me of distinctly of Double Dip swizzle sticks! There are then little influences popping out: A little tartness. A little citrus zest. Think cut apples and lemon rind. A traditional cider style tang to it along with smoother, sweeter vanilla.


The finish is punctuated with warming and lasting stem ginger heat and a little coastal salinity. It all trails off nicely with a tantalising peppery tingle.


A really layered dram. There were just lots of flavours peeling away and revealing others beneath on both the nose and the tongue. All balanced and complementing one another too – that’s impressive considering that it is not an old dram either – there were big apple and citrus flavours and then a collection of herbs and spices that would give Colonel Sanders a run for his money. So many little facets tucked away in those 4 initial barrels and then ticked off one by one when tasting.

Lovely and intriguing dram in its own right and I love the story behind The Scalasaig Island Hopper – the concept of taking that initial imagery from the Maiden Voyage Blended malt and then individually exploring and discovering the elements/ingredients of the original blend.

I am also going to have to explore my bottle of Tobermory 12 some more, as well as other expressions of theirs. One more feather in Mr Bonnington’s already bedecked hat, and another to keep a keen eye on.


Island Hopper moors up at Mull

Sample disclosure: This sample was received as part of a tweet tasting event hosted by The Whisky Wire. The evening featured Keith Bonnington talking through various whiskies that he has curated and releases under various brands, including The Whisky Cellar, The Scalasaig, and his reimagined Brig O’ Perth release. All notes are intended as an honest, fair, and independent review of the whisky, and not as a promotion. Please drink responsibly. Please drink wisely.

Bonnington Tweet Tasting Pack

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