It’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed a distillery release of Ledaig. Almost 7 years, in fact: I reviewed the Ledaig 15 in 2015, which was not exactly a current release at the time. In fact, I’ve only ever reviewed one other official Ledaig and that was the 2014 release of the Ledaig 10 which was then already the version in the new updated lineup from the distillery, bottled at 46.3% and not chill-filtered and so forth. I liked the palate on that one but found too much rubbery smoke on the nose. Since then I’ve reviewed a lot of independent releases of Ledaigs of that general age—there have been a lot of them about, especially from sherry casks and especially from Signatory. Some of those indie releases have been rather good indeed. I can’t say I had an active curiosity about the official releases—which now also include an 18 yo and an inevitable NAS bottle—but when the opportunity presented itself to try a relatively recent release (this is from 2018) I went for it anyway. Let’s see if I like it more than the previous.
Ledaig 10, 2018 Release (46.3%; from a bottle split)
Nose: A big wave of peat smoke, both farmy and phenolic. Some lemon in there too along with some salt. As it sits the farmy notes gain the upper hand on the phenolic and the smoke becomes drier. After a few minutes it begins to pick up some sweetness: brown sugar turning to light caramel. A few drops of water push back the smoke and soften it on the whole. There’s some milky cocoa in there now.
Palate: Lead with dry wood smoke here with the sweet notes popping out as I swallow. Nice texture and drinking strength. On the second sip the oak is quite palpable, with a good char on it. Some coffee grinds heading to the finish. Sweeter here too with time but the oak remains prominent—thankfully, it doesn’t become tannic. Okay, let’s add some water. Softer here too with water and the lemon gets emphasized
Finish: Long. The wood smoke and the oak continue with the coffee grinds mixing with some dark chocolate at the end. The coffee and dark chocolate turn to milky cocoa here too with water.
Comments: I’m happy to say that I liked this quite a bit more than the 2014 release. No sign of rubber here and more of what appears to be light sherry influence but might just be charred oak. Is the current profile close to this? If so, I might have to consider a bottle for casual sipping (assuming the price has not become too foolish).
Rating: 86 points.