Ledaig 10, 2008 (Archives)

Here is the third of the five Archives bottles recently released in the US. I’ve previously reviewed the Glentauchers 21 and the Orkney 15 in the series and liked them both a lot. This Ledaig is much younger and much peatier than those two and like them is from a bourbon cask. The last 10 yo Ledaig I had was from a red wine cask but I still liked it a lot. Will this be as good as that or its Archives stablemates? Let’s see.

Ledaig 10, 2008 (54.9%; Archives; hogshead; from a bottle split)

Nose: Holy burning rubber! And below that there’s some of the usual Ledaig rotting rodent. It takes a few minutes but the rubber mostly burns off and the dead rat funk subsides a bit as well. Below that is some vanilla, some malt and some milky cocoa; and after a bit there’s expanding lime. A somewhat unlikely combination/progression but it works. A few drops of water—after almost any hour—pull out more of the citrus along with muskier fruit (melon, pineapple). The rubber and funk are distant memories now.

Palate: Not much rubber here, thank god but there’s a lot of smoke and char with an inky rather than a straight-up medicinal edge; a lot of salt too (the sweet notes from the nose aren’t really in evidence). The char gets quite bitter as I swallow. Very approachable at full strength and has a nice, thick texture. Saltier on the second sip. With time some of that lime from the nose makes an appearance and the smoke moves in the direction of damp campfires and leaves. As on the nose with water: the rougher notes are mostly gone and now it’s about the citrus and the musky fruit—it’s sweeter here with water and much better balanced on the whole.

Finish: Long. The smoke keeps expanding and then takes over completely. Salt around the edges at first and then in the middle with time. As on the palate with water.

Comments: At first this was a bruising heavily peated malt but not very much more. Time and especially water brought out more complexity. $100 is a lot for a 10 yo malt—especially given the existence of the Laphroaig 10 CS—but if it were available near me I’d seriously consider pulling the trigger.

Rating: 88 points.

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