Ledaig 13, 2000 (G&M for Binny’s)

Ledaig 13, 2000, G&M for Binny's
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.)

10 thoughts on “Ledaig 13, 2000 (G&M for Binny’s)

  1. I confess to that comment. I would have been more open about my unpleasant experience but I didn’t want to taint yours. It seems you knew what I was getting at but you liked it anyway so that makes me happy. Not a Minnesotan but I am from Illinois.

    I have had it only two times since opening but that butyric note is stronger than in any Bruichladdich. I hope you’re right and it does weaken through oxidization.


    • Since taking these notes I took the bottle to my local group’s most recent tasting. All of us remarked the strong and persistent puke note at first; a couple adjusted to it pretty quickly; some said it went away slowly; a couple (me among them) had trouble shaking it on the nose till we added water. We all really liked the palate from the get-go. An oddball to be sure, and very atypical for Ledaig (not just on the puke front but on the lack of vegetal peat and rough sherry character fronts as well).


  2. Reading the review, I was a bit afraid opening this bottle, but in the end, while I do agree that there is a somewhat strange buytric nose, I find the whisky very interesting and also very drinkable. Granted, it is slightly strange, but I don’t think the “baby vomit” stands out so much, as to mask everything else. In fact, it seems to me that this buytric note vanishes rather quickly when leaving the whisky for 1-2 minutes in the glass.


  3. Yeah, I quite liked it despite that note, even though I found it to linger quite a bit on the nose: as I said in the review, it would seem to disappear but then would come back again, which made it seem as though it was my nose getting used to it and then discovering it again later. Still have some left—I’ll see where it’s at now. Palate and finish were a different story: much cleaner there.


  4. After a year of oxidization I must say that puke note has become a salty, smoked hard cheese which is preferable to say the least. Drier than I remember and less fruity. Everything else is as you describe.


  5. I wonder whether Ledaig/Tobermory ever had a greater level of appreciation among whisky fans than it is enjoying right now. I remember that, when the old green dumpy bottles of Tobermory 10yo at 40% abv were everywhere (and very cheap), they used to be the laughing stock of the whisky world. Even among the current generation of whisky fans and writers the appreciation has come gradually and slowly, but now it seems to be firmly established.


    • I think the appreciation has grown for sherried Ledaig in particular. And it probably has something to do with the climbing prices for sherried, peated Islay malts.

      I don’t think the reputation of the Tobermory malt is any higher than it used to be.


  6. So, I finished the last of my bottle tonight. The sour note was more parmesan than puke, yes, but still quite strong at first. But I still liked it a lot on the palate: at times it seemed very Caol Ila’ish with minerally peat and lemon; at other times it seemed like a cross between Caol Ila and Clynelish (with more limestone). A very atypical Ledaig to the end.


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