This Cadenhead’s cask sample was purchased at the same time as Monday’s Caol Ila, in Cadenhead’s Edinburgh shop in June. It was not purchased by me though. I was there with my friend Mike and while we both grabbed a 200 ml bottle each of the Caol Ila, he took the last Ledaig, the bastard. Later in more gentlemanly fashion he saved me a good size sample from the bottle. I think Mike liked this better than the Caol Ila. Let’s see if that holds true for me as well.
Ledaig 19 (53.7%; Cadenhead’s Manager’s Cask Sample; single bourbon barrel; from a friend’s bottle)
Nose: Big rubbery smoke mixed with that very Ledaig smell of death (a rodent in wet undergrowth). Some fruit struggles to make its way past the big notes (citrus, maybe plum). With more time the overpowering notes burn off (or maybe my nostrils adjust) and the fruit is more apparent, along with sweeter notes (vanilla). Brighter, sharper, ashier with a drop of water and the fruit’s more pronounced now.
Palate: Neither the rubber nor the dead rat, not at first anyway. Instead it’s ashier smoke, charred oak and pepper. Very drinkable at full strength. With a bit of time and air the rubber and the organic rot are back but they make for a nice savoury mix with the charred notes (some meat too now with the oak) and the pepper. The fruit from the nose doesn’t quite make it here. Let’s see if water pulls them out. Nope, but it gets more resinous and the whole is better integrated (and is that black coffee?).
Finish: Long. Massive waves of smoke, getting inkier and more phenolic with each wave. Quite a bit of cracked black pepper at the end. As on the palate with water, and sweeter now.
Comments: A big blunt, peaty beast. You could make or lose friends with this. I liked this a lot but I do have a ceiling for this funkier flavour of peat; I generally prefer it when it’s been rounded off a bit in a good sherry cask. Still, I’d buy a full 200 ml sample of this if I could (I can’t).
Rating: 86 points.
Thanks to Mike for the sample!