On Wednesday I had a review of an excellent heavily peated, heavily sherried malt released in 2012 (the Elements of Islay Pl1); today I have a review of another heavily peated, heavily sherried malt, this one released in 2017. This was also bottled, under the Single Malts of Scotland label, by an outfit in the Whisky Exchange portfolio, the erstwhile Speciality Drinks, who are now known as Elixir Distillers. Apparently this is an autonomous entity; I think the Whisky Exchange shop may have its own releases as well that are not from Speciality Drinks/Elixir Distillers—please correct me if I’m wrong. I am a simple man and find all this hard to keep straight, which is why in my “categories” listing on the blog I just bung them all together under “The Whisky Exchange”. Technically, I suppose this is wrong as Speciality Drinks/Elixir Distillers are independent bottlers who supply to more stores than just the Whisky Exchange.
Anyway, this has been a fascinating introduction to this review, hasn’t it? I bet you could read a lot more about it, but it’s time to get to the whisky itself.
Ledaig 11, 2005 (56.4%; Single Malts of Scotland; sherry butt 900162; from my own bottle)
Nose: Earthy peat with mushrooms and reduced beef stock along with orange peel and dried cherries and hoisin sauce. On the second sniff there’s pencil lead and brighter citrus. Not much meaningful change with time. Let’s see what water does. It makes it sticky again and pulls out some plum and some leather.
Palate: As promised by the nose at first but then there’s a big whack of ashy smoke. The texture is just a bit flat. It gets smokier and saltier with every sip but a sour note also begins to emerge. With time the smoke moves in the direction of sweet pipe tobacco and the citrus is closer to lemon than orange here too. Water pushes the sour notes back, adds depth to the texture and generally integrates everything much more fully. But as it sits it gets more acidic again.
Finish: Long. The ashy smoke billows for a while and salt crystals begin to pop behind it. The tobacco sticks around here to after appearing on the palate. Less smoky with water.
Comments: The bottom half of the bottle is not as rich as the top half was. There’s less sweetness now, less apricot, and more pencil lead and sour sherry cask flavours. If you have an unopened bottle I’d suggest drinking it down quicker than I did when you open it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very good and even in its current state would not disappoint anybody who likes the mix of big peat and big sherry. Just missing some complexity under the bigness. I liked it better with a touch of water.
Rating: 88 points.