Okay, after an Armagnac, a Cognac, and a rum, let’s get back to whisky. This 11 yo whisky was released by the Whisky Exchange in a series they called Time. I’ve previously reviewed two of the other releases from this series: a Benrinnes 20 and a “Family Owned Distillery” 15 (probably a Glenfarclas). I was intrigued by the other releases as well but didn’t get around to ordering them before they sold out/TWE stopped shipping to Minnesota. Anyway, I liked both of the others I did buy a lot, and I can tell you the streak continued with this Ledaig. It took me a long time to get around to it—I eventually opened it as a sparring partner with a stupidly sherried Ledaig (also 11 years old and also from the Whisky Exchange). That one had the maximum sherry thing going on with the peat but this bourbon cask whisky held its own quite well. I drank it down quite quickly after opening it. Here now are the particulars. Continue reading
On Friday I had a review of a heavily sherried Ledaig, an 11 yo from 2005. Here now is another heavily sherried Ledaig, a 10 yo from 2004. It is from the same series of casks of sherried Ledaigs that emerged a couple of years ago. Interestingly, despite having been distilled the previous year this has a higher cask number 900170 to the 2005’s 900162. A while ago I’d reviewed another of these 10 yo casks from 2004—that one was 900176. Now, I know that distilleries usually restart their cask numbering every year but it seems very coincidental that casks filled a year later, and in turn bottled a year later, should have numbers in the same range. The more likely explanation may be that these are Signatory’s cask numbers. They may have acquired a parcel of sherried Ledaigs from 2004 and 2005 and re-numbered them in this 900xxx series. It does appear from Whiskybase that all the 90014x, 90015x, 90016x and 90017x casks were either released by Signatory or outfits Signatory is said to be the source for (van Wees, LMDW). And they all seem to date from 2004 or 2005. Well, this may not be a very interesting mystery but if you do know the answer or have a better theory, please write in below. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Yet another sherried Ledaig. Unlike all the others I’ve reviewed of late this one is from refill sherry and it’s from a hogshead not a butt. So there’s the prospect of both greater oak influence (from the smaller cask size) and lesser sherry influence. This is a Gordon & MacPhail exclusive for Binny’s and is the penultimate whisky from the eight bottle split I coordinated back in late-February.
I remember somebody making a cryptic comment earlier this month (I can’t remember on which post) about this being “different”. In Minnesota to call something “different” is not a good thing, but I don’t know if the person who made that comment is Minnesotan. Anyway, let’s find out if it’s Minnesotan different or just regular different or if, indeed, I don’t find it particularly different in any sense. Continue reading
Here is another teenaged, sherried Ledaig. This was distilled a year before Wednesday’s 17 yo, 1998 from Cooper’s choice and is a year younger. And where that one was from a sherry butt (fill type unspecified), this was matured by Gordon & MacPhail in a refill sherry hogshead (and bottled for The Whisky Exchange). I opened my bottle a couple of months ago and it was quite rough to start. I’ve been drinking it down slowly and while it has mellowed a bit it’s still pretty aggressive on the peat front. Time now to finally record my notes (this is from the last quarter of the bottle).
Ledaig 16, 1997 (56.8%; Gordon & MacPhail for TWE; refill sherry hogshead #465; from my own bottle)
I’ve had (and reviewed) quite a few high quality young, sherried Ledaigs of late (see here, here, here, here, here and here). Most, though not all, of those were distilled in the mid-2000s. The teenaged Ledaigs from the previous decade that I’ve had have not been sherried and have generally not reached the heights of their younger, sherried siblings. Here now is a 17 yo from 1998 from a sherry butt. Will it reverse this trend?
This was bottled by Cooper’s Choice. I don’t know much about this label—as per Malt Madness, this is a brand of the Vintage Malt Whisky Company, founded in 1992 by an ex-employee of Bowmore. Johannes notes that they offer good value. I’ve not had very many of their bottlings so I cannot comment on that, but they do seem to be more ubiquitous in the last year or two with both cask strength and non-cask strength releases. Well, let’s see what this is like. Continue reading
Here is another young Ledaig. This one is a year older and from a year earlier than yesterday’s bourbon cask from Maltbarn. I purchased this on spec after tasting the wonderful Signatory 9 yo from the same year and discovering that that one was sold out. This is from the same run of casks—900176 to the Signatory’s 900172—and my understanding is that Signatory is the source of van Wees’ casks as well. Odds were good, therefore, that it would be good as well; and if it’s even 80% as good I’ll be happy (it was cheaper than the Signatory was when it was available). Like the Signatory cask, this one has a very high abv (61.9%). I was reluctant at first to review the first pour—in my experience high abv whiskies can be quite “tight” when first opened, and particularly when from sherry casks)—but I did also want to follow the bottle over its full life and so decided to get some notes down: I compensated by airing it out for a long time. Continue reading
I’ve reviewed and praised a number of young, sherry cask Ledaigs (most recently this stunner from Signatory). Here now is a bourbon cask from the same vintage as most of those. This was bottled by the new’ish German outfit, Maltbarn. I guess it might have been more useful to review it while it was still available, but I’ve never really been a very useful person. Let’s get right to it.
Ledaig 9, 2005 (48.1%; Maltbarn; bourbon cask; from a purchased sample)
Nose: Rubbery peat at first but it takes a very quick, sweet turn: sort of a simple syrup sweetness sitting on top of the rubber and vegetal and floral notes. Altogether, somewhat mezcal’ish. With a bit of air there’s some vanilla and also some pepper. With more time the floral/rubbery notes recede and the vanilla is joined by some fruit (apple, lemon) and faint cereally notes. The citrus expands further as it sits. (The peat is present throughout.) As so often happens, the citrus gets muskier with water; more salt too now. Continue reading
Tobermory’s peated malt Ledaig has not always had the best reputation. In recent years, however, a number of heavily sherried Ledaigs have been released that have been received very well indeed. I’m not talking only about ancient monsters like this Alambic Classique 40 yo from 1972 (the year the distillery was re-opened after being shuttered for more than four decades) but very young casks distilled in the 2000s. I’ve reviewed a few of these, giving very high scores (relative to age, and in general) to a 6 yo and a 7 yo from the Whisky Exchange and to another 6 yo from Blackadder. I’m hopeful that this cask, released by Signatory, may be up to those standards; especially since the price was not low for such a young whisky. As to why these heavily sherried casks are falling to the independents, while the distillery continues to release a very different profile for its own 10 yo and 18 yo releases, I don’t know. Continue reading
This is the old Ledaig 15 at 43% (probably chillfiltered and maybe even coloured, though it’s not particularly tanned in appearance). I don’t think there’s been an updated version of this since Tobermory/Ledaig’s lineups got rebooted/upgraded with higher abv’s and more bespoke presentation some years ago—as to why that is, I’m not sure; there is a Tobermory 15, after all.
Anyway, this review is again going up simultaneously with that of Michael K. and Jordan D. (links to come in the morning once all the posts are up and I’m awake) and they will certainly have far more useful information. I can tell you that Michael’s incredibly conventional sample label says this was bottled in 2001 and that it’s probably actually 19 years old once you factor the distillery’s closures in.
Okay, let’s do one more young Ledaig to bring the run of reviews of peated whiskies to a close. This one, like the 6 yo from Blackadder that I liked so much, is also from a sherry cask. It was bottled by the Whisky Exchange for the 2013 iteration of their annual whisky show. Oddly, they don’t note a vintage. As to whether this means that this was a vatting or that it’s merely in keeping with the “retro label” that this bottle (and others released at the show) sported, I don’t know. And frankly I’m not so very interested to find out.
Ledaig 7 (59.4%; sherry matured; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: You’re never going to believe it but there’s farmy, organic peat notes in this! No rotting rodents though, just a lot of partially composted leaves. Quite a bit of salt too and some pipe tobacco. It’s not as clearly sherried as the Blackadder 6 yo but there are sweet fruit notes here too: plums, a little bit of orange peel, some raisins. More pastry/baked notes with time. The vegetal peat and the fruit marry surprisingly well with time. With water the citrus comes out in front but there’s still a lot of smoke (with more charred meat now). Continue reading
The run of reviews of smoky whiskies is threatening to become a run of reviews of Ledaig. Well, this one from David Stirk’s Exclusive Malts at least doesn’t say Ledaig on the bottle. It says “Island Distillery” but it has all but explicitly been confirmed that this is a Ledaig. This was an exclusive bottling for my old pals at K&L. Let’s see what it does to my fairly positive streak with Ledaig.
Island Distillery/ Ledaig 7, 2005 (57.2%. Exclusive Malts for K&L; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Ah yes, the familiar farmy/organic peat. There’s a fair bit of vanilla sweetness with it though along with some salt and lemon and a bit of rubber/vinyl. After a few minutes the vanilla sweetness eases into a creamier, butter-pastry kind of thing, and I’m getting some sort of baked fruit as well (apple maybe?). With even more time (10-15 minutes in) the farmy/organic peat is still there but more muted and in better balance with the other notes. Water pushes back the smoke and accentuates the lemon and the sweetness (stony now as it was on the palate). Continue reading
Hot on the heels of my review of the Ledaig 10, and picking back up the run of reviews of smoky whiskies, here is an even younger Ledaig, this from a single sherry cask and released by the indie outfit, Blackadder. I’ve previously reviewed another Ledaig 6 that I rather liked and I’m interested to see how this one compares.
Ledaig 6, 2005 (64%; Blackadder; sherry cask #9011; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: The usual Ledaig farmy peat but it’s shot through with orange peel, raisins and dark honey; some caramel too. Rather expressive despite the high (!) strength. After a minute or so there’s quite a lot of salt and there’s an inky quality to the smoke too and just a hint of struck matches. After a while it’s all about the citrus (now joined by some apricot) with some savoury notes (cured pork) and briny smoke playing above. Water wakes the farmy notes back up but only for a flash–after that it’s pretty much as it was neat, with maybe a little more apricot sweetness and a little bit of leather. Continue reading