Having set the world afire with a week of Edradour—by which I mean that absolutely no one was interested—let’s do a non-distillery-themed week. Three different distilleries this week but the malts will all have one thing in common: peat. Let’s start with the oldest. This is a 23 yo Ledaig bottled by one of the Laing outfits for my old pals K&L in California. Yes, this means the return of the EW! Rating (patent pending). This was part of their parcel of exclusive casks from late last year. As with many in that parcel this cask was teaspooned, which is to say it had a small bit of malt from some other distillery added to it. Hence also the silly name. It can’t officially be a Ledaig— but for all intents and purposes it is. Well, let’s hope this one turns out well. I’ve had an up and down run with the others from this parcel of K&L exclusives I’ve reviewed so far. I’ve liked most of them but none have hit it out of the park for me. And indeed, two of the 20+ year olds were among those that disappointed. Where will this one land? Let’s see.
Hebridean Mulligan/Ledaig 23, 1997 (59%; OMC for K&L; refill hogshead HL18069; from a bottle split)
Nose: A mellow incarnation of the usual farmy-phenolic, rubbery Ledaig peat, run through with salt, preserved lemon and ham. Very nice indeed. Sweeter as it sits with a bit of vanilla popping out to join the ham cure; some pepper too now. Water knocks back the farmy-rubbery complex and pulls out a lot of white pepper, salt and citronella. The savoury notes are still here too.
Palate: Very much as indicated by the nose in general but there’s a lot more salt here and it’s more coastal on the whole. Very approachable at full strength despite the high abv. A lot of pepper here too with time. Some sweeter fruit in there somewhere but hard to pick what it is. Let’s see if water brings it out more fully. Hmm no (maybe a bit of plum?) but it mellows and integrates the smoke and the sweeter and coastal notes nicely. Less peppery now.
Finish: Long. The pepper and the peat go on for a while, the smoke picking up more char and more ash. As on the palate with water at first and then meatier (charred pork rather than ham).
Comments: I really liked the nose on this, both neat and with water. The palate was less interesting neat but came on nicely with water. This was $120, I believe on release. Not sure if it’s still available but that’s a very good price for a 23 yo peated malt of this quality. At the same time it’s also close to the price of two bottles of Laphroaig 10 CS and if good, high octane peated whisky is what you’re after and not a big age number per se then that might be a better way to spend the money.
Rating: 88 points.
EW! Rating: 130/100 points.