The procession of Cadenhead’s Small Batch reviews goes on. This is the oldest modern era Ledaig I’ve had (the very oldest I’ve had, a senior citizen from 1972, was my favourite whisky bottled in 2013). I doubt this will approach those heights but am hoping that it will be good nonetheless. Despite Ledaig’s general iffy recent reputation some very good stuff has been available from indies of late.
Ledaig 16, 1998 (56%; Cadenhead’s Small Batch, bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split with friends)
Nose: A dense fog of farmy peat; lots of rotting organic material–pungent, almost sweet. Gets increasingly rubbery (bicycle inner tube). With a little more time there’s a fair bit of salt. Not much change after 15-20 minutes. Okay, let’s take another sip and add some water. Water brings out a minerally sweetness and then some lemon begins to emerge behind some ashy smoke.
Palate: Sweetness first and then a huge hit of dry, acidic smoke, turning leafy and then rather ashy. Rather massive smoke. Gets salty as it goes. With time the sweetness trumps that initial leafy/ashy blast and it gets much saltier, and fast. Ah yes, much better with water. The minerally sweetness and lemon from the nose are here as well and get quite intense.
Finish: Long. Ashy smoke and salt at first; after a while it’s intensely salty. The salt is dialed back with water and the lemon hangs around for a very long time.
Comments: This was rather one-dimensional neat but became rounded with water as the dry smoke and intense salt were joined by lemon and a minerally sweetness. Still, not terribly interesting on the whole and I think I’m fine I don’t have a full bottle of this one.
Rating: 85 points.