Hot on the heels of my review of the Ledaig 10, and picking back up the run of reviews of smoky whiskies, here is an even younger Ledaig, this from a single sherry cask and released by the indie outfit, Blackadder. I’ve previously reviewed another Ledaig 6 that I rather liked and I’m interested to see how this one compares.
Ledaig 6, 2005 (64%; Blackadder; sherry cask #9011; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: The usual Ledaig farmy peat but it’s shot through with orange peel, raisins and dark honey; some caramel too. Rather expressive despite the high (!) strength. After a minute or so there’s quite a lot of salt and there’s an inky quality to the smoke too and just a hint of struck matches. After a while it’s all about the citrus (now joined by some apricot) with some savoury notes (cured pork) and briny smoke playing above. Water wakes the farmy notes back up but only for a flash–after that it’s pretty much as it was neat, with maybe a little more apricot sweetness and a little bit of leather.
Palate: Leads with the sherried notes–orange peel, light caramel, gunpowder–and then the salt and the smoke arrive. The smoke is far less dry/farmy here. The mouthfeel is very mellow for the strength. Sweeter notes emerge on the second sip along with some pepper. Very drinkable at full strength but I expect water will open it up even more. But I’m in no hurry. Fifteen to twenty minutes later it’s all of the above but the salt is more intense. Okay, let’s add some water. Water makes it sweeter with apricot jam, dried orange peel and a bit of marmalade; lots of salt crystals still. The mouthfeel is very soft now, even though I can’t have taken it very far below 60%. More gunpowder mixed in with the smoke now but it’s very complementary.
Finish: Long. The salt and the citrus and the gunpowder hang around for a long while. Well after the swallow there’s a soft ashiness on my palate. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This was very nice–in many ways it made me think of Highland Park (though much smokier, of course, than most Highland Parks). And my notes indicate that this is quite close to the Single Malts of Scotland Ledaig 6 I reviewed almost a year ago. I like this one even more though. And after last week’s too-sulphurous-even-for-me Caol Ila 10, this is an example of how sulphur can enhance a whisky when in balance with smoke and fruitier notes. Not sure if the out-and-out sulphur-phobe would agree though.
Rating: 89 points.
Thanks to Michael K. for the sample. (And boy, did Michael have a very different take!)