Google Ledaig is on again

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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

May 2, 2018


Ledaig is on again

I won’t say a word about Tobermory’s Ledaig. It’s an insider’s whisky, you know, and few people seem to understand that it’s simply blowing many famous Islayers out of the water these days. Shh… Oh and let’s remain courteous and start this with a wee official, although, you know, those OBs…

Ledaig 1996/2015 (46.3%, OB, oloroso sherry finish)

Ledaig 1996/2015 (46.3%, OB, oloroso sherry finish) Two stars
Small batch, naturally. That’s well an owner’s term… And sadly, they felt the need to finish it… Colour: gold. Nose: mashed turnips, sour cream, ink, old fridge, feints, new leatherette, and only then a cleaner development involving some kind of pine smoke as well as old walnuts. Some mustard too, cooking Madeira… Very bizarre and bizarrely unclean. Mouth: this is rather a little better, peppery, smoky, salty… and mustardy/sulphury. Violet syrup, lavender, strawberry wine, leather, soot… Indeed, it’s all unlikely and kind of, well, what we call ‘dirty’. It’s not unlike some Longrows, after a brilliant start in the early 1970s, and then a few good ones in the mid-late 1980s, they have had their wacky period in the 1990s (sulphur anyone?) before they made their make one of the stars of the whisky world again. Okay, let’s just wait, or go to the indies… Finish: medium, leathery, oddly cigary, and sour/bitter/sweet. Comments: these bottlings are really hard to understand, from my own little POV. But criticizing is easy and art is difficult, I know.
SGP:554 - 72 points.

Ledaig 13 yo 2004/2017 (58.7%, Elixir Distillers, The Whisky Trail Dragon Series for Whisky-e Ltd, Japan, hogshead, cask #0036)

Ledaig 13 yo 2004/2017 (58.7%, Elixir Distillers, The Whisky Trail Dragon Series for Whisky-e Ltd, Japan, hogshead, cask #0036) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: crush fresh almonds, add ink, add barley water, add olive brine, add fish oil, add lemon juice, add gun oil, add asparagus water. There, you have it. With water: add green tea and add a little dill. Perhaps a teaspoonful of sour cream, which is pretty Tobermory indeed. Mouth (neat): pure lemon juice and engine oil. Some kind of oilier Caol Ila, if you will, and I’m afraid there isn’t much you can do against this. With water: please come in, herbs and green vegetables. Capers, samphires, olives, beans, chickpeas… And get all smoked! Finish: long, very ‘green’. Garden smoke (when that wasn’t forbidden yet in our civilised countries), walnut and apple peelings… Comments: it is actually a very dry and very ‘green’ one. It’s got an acridness that’s rather singular – and which I enjoy a lot. Isn’t Ledaig the most pleasantly un-commercial peater these days?
SGP:367 - 89 points.

Ledaig 2004/2017 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice)

Ledaig 2004/2017 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice) Four stars and a half
Not all Ledaigs by G&M have been great in my opinion, the early 1990s distillates having been particularly difficult… Sour butter, anyone? Colour: white wine. Nose: we’re out of the danger zone, this is pretty clean, even if a tad porridge-y and sour. Smoked bread or something, grass juice, ink, fern, pine needles… In short, still a malt unlike any other. Mouth: reminds me of G&M’s Ardbegs, really. Sour apples, smoke, seawater, olive brine, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, dry white wine, lemon juice… In truth I think this is excellent. Finish: medium, all on riesling, lemon juice, and lapsang souchong. Not a throwaway. Comments: gone are the unlikely Ledaigs, this is excellent. And very fairly priced at that, so I’m recommending it. There.
SGP:356 - 88 points.

Ledaig 10 yo 2007/2017 (53%, Claxton’s, oloroso octave)

Ledaig 10 yo 2007/2017 (53%, Claxton’s, oloroso octave) Three stars and a half
Well, I’ve been to Jerez several times, and never spotted any sherry octave, but there, they’re tiny and I could have missed them. Now they do have a few guys named Octavio… (gee, S.!) Colour: gold. Nose: sour apples, walnuts, cigars, cedar wood, brine, pine needles, coriander. This should go well with dim-sums (Chinese dumplings). With water: Stolle, gingerbread, Läckerlis, Alsatian anis bredala... Mouth (neat): feels re-crafted, whatever that means. New oak, spicy bread, pumpernickel, gingerbread… It is a style you’d rather associate with super-young American whiskeys, in truth. With water: and holey featherless crow, this works despite a few excessive greenish/spicy oaky touches. I mean, we love cardamom, but… Finish: long, spicy. Some sauce for Chinese food, really. Comments: some kind of take, I would say. It’s fun and it ain’t half-bad!
SGP:375 - 83 points.

Ledaig 10 yo 2007/2017 (55.2%, Claxton’s, for Van Zuylen 50th Anniversary, sherry octave finish, cask # 1716VZ-700815)

Ledaig 10 yo 2007/2017 (55.2%, Claxton’s, for Van Zuylen 50th Anniversary, sherry octave finish, cask # 1716VZ-700815) Four stars and a half
Love Van Zuylen, great people, great shop, true passion. Been there around 10 years ago but I doubt anything has changed. Colour: gold. Nose: cleaner, less ‘octave-y’, more ‘Ledaig-y’, without this feeling of concentrated gingerbread. Well, there is some gingerbread, but there’ also brine, smoked tea, seashells, leather, cigars… With water: old copper coins, old samovar, cigars, dried mussels, more cigars. Mouth (neat): oh very good! Aniseed and gingerbread over lemon juice, lapsang souchong and kippers. All is well in the best of worlds. With water: my this rocks! Spicy bread, cloves big time, pastis, pine liqueur… They may pour this with Alsatian foie gras! Finish: very long, pine-y, a tad syrupy, jam-packed with spicy flavours. Salty aftertaste. Comments: there is this feeling of some whisky having been reworked, but I think it was all for the better, for once. Yes, Serge speaking.
SGP:376 - 88 points.

Ledaig 8 yo 2007/2017 (51.5%, The Whisky Mercenary for Whisky Troef)

Ledaig 8 yo 2007/2017 (51.5%, The Whisky Mercenary for Whisky Troef) Four stars and a half
Love the obsessiveness in these wee bottlings. Between Johnnie Red and this there is a whole world, and that world would be different without either edges. Let’s cherish these little club bottlings, for they reek of true passion. Excuse me? Passion in Johnnie Red? Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s an oily Ledaig, it’s got paraffin, it’s got cod oil, it’s got ink, it’s got almond milk, it’s got lamp oil… With water: a beach at low tide. And at sunset. Mouth (neat): an Ardbeg beater! Oily, fat young peat, brine, tapenade, olive oil, Maryland crab cake… With water: quaffing smoked lemon juice blended with brine and tar. Finish: extremely long, very tarry and smoky. Comments: without these wee bottlings, whisky’s dead. Or just another commodity, like tinned chickpeas, Nutella, or Coca-Cola.
SGP:367 - 89 points.

Ledaig 20 yo 1997/2018 (52.8%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, Single Cask)

Ledaig 20 yo 1997/2018 (52.8%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, Single Cask) Five stars
Cadenhead’s? That name rings a bell… Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s the word ‘purity’ that springs to my mind just now, but it’s followed with wackier monikers, such as ‘new plastic pouch’, ‘new Renault’, or ‘Marks & Spencer’s mashed potatoes’. Some curious rum aromas too. With water: new tweed, oysters, newspaper of the day, moss. Mouth (neat): oh sweet Vishnu, this is good. It’s another Ardbeggian Ledaig, with everything tarry that would be needed. Including your old uncle’s pipes. With water: yep. A bottle to buy. It’s raw stuff but it’s a good conversationalist. Finish: long, very tarry and smoky. Comments: it’s actually full of flaws, and first of all, it’s very ill-mannered, but we ought to love these anti-Macallans, oughtn’t we? A great wee bottle that one should keep for later (like, for the year 2040).
SGP:378 - 90 points.

Oh by the way, that man at Cadenhead’s, whom I just hate (largely because I’d have loved to do his job, had I been 30 years younger), named Mark W., wrote something pretty smart on Thee Zinternet the other day. They call that a ‘blog’. WM Cadenhead's new blog, actually, you'll easily find it. I would recommend you read it if you haven’t already done so, unless there’s a lost episode of Inspektor Derrick on TV just now.

Good, this has lasted far too long, but we were talking about the 1970s just a few minutes ago, weren’t we… So, as this session’s signature, let us have…

Ledaig (Tobermory) 23 yo 1972/1996 (53.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

Ledaig (Tobermory) 23 yo 1972/1996 (53.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Five stars
Vorsicht, these early Ledaigs are legendary, so you may expect a little maltoporn now… And by the way, some of them have been labelled as ‘Tobermory’ in the past, so careful if you’re just expecting liquid muesli… Colour: gold. Nose: ah. Smoked marzipan, Cuban cigars, pollen, thuja wood, olive oil, figs… Still the best ones, truly. I don’t think they ever managed to replicate those 1972/1973 Ledaigs… Provided they ever tried to do so. With water: shoe polish! Love shoe polish in my whisky… Mouth (neat): sweet Vishnu! Luminous whisky, resinous, fruity (mangos and green pears), with notes of propolis, grapefruits, coriander, Thai basil, almond paste, lemongrass, salted lemon juice, even mezcal, pinesap, cannabis resin… With water: there, it does the peacock’s tale (although just like all Ledaigs, it wouldn’t take too much water or it would get kind of stale). Fantastic dry lemony unfolding (with just a drop of water). Finish: long, incredibly austere and straight, as if it would tell you ‘don’t play with me, I am the boss’. Green apple juice, smoked cider… Comments: incredibly fresh, you would believe this was distilled just yesterday. I had a sister cask at WF 92 (at 51.3%) but I had tried that one in 2006. That’s quite a long time ago, but sine as stubborn as a mule...
SGP:366 - 92 points.

Shouldn’t we call this ‘a proper tasting session’? Peace! And let’s say this again, the indies remain the true guardians of the distilleries’ styles, the owners being too busy with toying with rejuvenated oak, cheap wine, and tasteless flavourings. Folks, wake up, you’re killing your distilleries on the long run!

(Merci Emmanuel!)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Ledaig we've tasted so far






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