Ledaig 10, 2004 (Signatory)

Ledaig 10, 2004, Signatory
Tobermory’s peated malt Ledaig has not always had the best reputation. In recent years, however, a number of heavily sherried Ledaigs have been released that have been received very well indeed. I’m not talking only about ancient monsters like this Alambic Classique 40 yo from 1972 (the year the distillery was re-opened after being shuttered for more than four decades) but very young casks distilled in the 2000s. I’ve reviewed a few of these, giving very high scores (relative to age, and in general) to a 6 yo and a 7 yo from the Whisky Exchange and to another 6 yo from Blackadder. I’m hopeful that this cask, released by Signatory, may be up to those standards; especially since the price was not low for such a young whisky. As to why these heavily sherried casks are falling to the independents, while the distillery continues to release a very different profile for its own 10 yo and 18 yo releases, I don’t know.

By the way, if you know when the distillery’s name was changed to Tobermory, please write in below. As far as I know it was originally named Ledaig when founded in 1798 and reopened under that name in 1972.

Ledaig 10, 2004 (61.6%; sherry butt 900172; Signatory; from a bottle split)

Nose: A smouldering bonfire of leaves and twigs; some charred meat as well. After a minute or so there are sweeter notes: toffee, raisins, gingerbread, dried orange peel. Pencil lead peeps out now too. Very intense throughout and not closed despite the very high strength. Gets stickier and sweeter as it goes. Water pushes the smoke back a bit and pulls out more of the toffee.

Palate: Sweet arrival and then all that leafy smoke comes rushing in. Orange peel behind the smoke and the charred meat. Stays sweet throughout. Again, very drinkable despite the high strength. As on the nose it gets sweeter and stickier with time but here the smoke and some acid cut through the sweetness, keeping it from getting too cloying. With more time the orange turns to Cointreau. Much brighter on the palate with water, with the orange edging towards lemon, and less sticky.

Finish: Long. The smoke and the charred meat hang around, picking up some coarsely ground pepper; still sweet. As on the palate with water but there’s even more of the charred meat now.

Comments: Man, this was unexpectedly good. What the hell is it with young sherried Ledaig? This is the third or fourth I’ve liked a lot, and I like this one the most! In fact, I’d say that left alone for another a few decades this might well have turned into something close to that Alambic Classique 40 yo (and I really did score that one a bit low).

Rating: 90 points.

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