Yet another sherried Ledaig. Unlike all the others I’ve reviewed of late this one is from refill sherry and it’s from a hogshead not a butt. So there’s the prospect of both greater oak influence (from the smaller cask size) and lesser sherry influence. This is a Gordon & MacPhail exclusive for Binny’s and is the penultimate whisky from the eight bottle split I coordinated back in late-February.
I remember somebody making a cryptic comment earlier this month (I can’t remember on which post) about this being “different”. In Minnesota to call something “different” is not a good thing, but I don’t know if the person who made that comment is Minnesotan. Anyway, let’s find out if it’s Minnesotan different or just regular different or if, indeed, I don’t find it particularly different in any sense.
Ledaig 13, 2000 (56.9%; refill sherry hogshead #69; G&M for Binny’s; from a bottle split)
Nose: Very buytric to start (sour milk/parmesan cheese, baby vomit); lemon and sharp, clean smoke below that—none of the usual Ledaig vegetal character. As the pukey note slowly begins to recede some tart-sweet apple begins to rise to the surface and the smoke gets a little diesel fume’ish kick. The pukey note never quite recedes consistently though—it’s more like my nose adjusts to it and then it comes back strong again. After a long time—almost an hour—it has finally backed off but it’s still not completely gone. With water (and I added a big splash), the lemon gets muskier and it’s much fruitier on the whole.
Palate: Leads with clean smoke here, turning ashy as I swallow. A nice sweet mineral quality to it too: wet stones in a clear mountain stream. Sweeter heading to the finish. With more time it gets more medicinal (iodine, gauze bandages) and coastal (brine, seashells). With a lot of time the sweeter notes are a little more pronounced. With water it’s a little less smoky but still quite intense.
Finish: Long. The smoke lingers a good while, picking up some pepper and a bit of lemon but it’s also quite sweet. Less peppery with water.
Comments: This may be the most un-Ledaig Ledaig I’ve had and it’s certainly the most atypical sherry cask Ledaig I’ve had. There’s none of the usual vegetal, “organic”/rotting quality in the peat and smoke here and there’s no hint of sulphur or any other bite from the sherry. It’s also the case that there’s none of the dark fruit that’s there in the other sherry cask Ledaigs I’ve reviewed—in fact, blind, I might well have guessed this was a bourbon cask Caol Ila, albeit not a typical one. It’s also two very different experiences at first: I really liked it on the palate and finish from the get-go but the pukey notes on the nose hung around a very long time; with time, and especially with water, the nose was much improved. If you have a freshly opened bottle and were discouraged by your first pour I’d suggest giving it a lot of time and more water than you usually might.
Rating: 87 points. (Would have been lower if I’d been reviewing quickly.)