So there’s been quite a bit of talk on /r/Scotch about Ledaig and Tobermory. I believe the term “Great Ass Whisky” has been thrown about, with many felchers coming out of the woodwork to state their love for that booty-licious flavour.
I, of course, laughed it all off. I, a constant reviewer, must have reviewed multiple Tobermory and Ledaigs.
I checked, and yes, I’m the horrible person who doesn’t like Tobermory.
However my ego took a blow when I found I hadn’t reviewed as many Ledaig’s as I liked to pretend. Actually I had reviewed one. In UK. About a year ago.
So I’m an idiot. Decided to gather up some samples, and eventually do a
vertical gang-bang of reviews.
So here we are. After months of gathering, I have 5, in very little way through some of them. Only 1 OB.
So, what is Ledaig? Well Tobermory distillery, located on the Isle of Mull, has two different malts. One’s called Tobermory, and it and I have a rough relationship.
The other is Ledaig. Why Ledaig? Because that’s the name of the distillery before they named it after the local village, which I’m sure I’d love. Ledaig is made in smaller quantities and is peated, where as Tobermory is unpeated and there’s more of it.
Imagine if Jan and Marcia were different because Jan was peated. That’s the idea. Also the insane idea of a fan fiction, but let’s not get into my other hobbies.
Ledaig is used in blends, with the two prominent ones being Scottish Leader and Black Bottle.
None the less, you can still find Ledaig Single Malts out there. So let’s see how they taste, shall we?
Up first we start with the entry level malt of the peated dram from Mull, Ledaig 10. This is aged for 10 years in ex-bourbon casks, then watered down a bit, and non-chill filtered. All of those things sound good.
Ledaig is peated to 35ppm, about the same as Lagavulin. And I’m a sucker for Lagavulin, so I must love Ledaig, right?
With that kind of great logic, it’s no wonder I dropped out of Computer Science. Unlike Marcia. She did really well. Marcia Marcia Marcia!
Price: $67.60 (CAD) at the LCBO
Colour: 7.5Y 9/4
Nose: Peat, cocoa, white sugar, lemon pepper, chilli powder, vegetal, cream
Initially nothing but peat. Which I don’t mind. It’s young, and there’s some rough edges, however you can tell it’s starting to grow.
Decent complexity. Also didn’t take a football to the face. Ha!
Taste: Peat, brine, cherry, black pepper
Less complexity on the taste. There’s some nice brine to it, which I like. Reminds me of Laphroaig QC, however less going on. Like if I tried to pantomime the taste of an Islay whisky, and said fuck it part way through.
Unlike that bitch Marcia… always sucking up on pantomiming whisky notes.
Finish: Lemon, arugula, earth, brine, peach
Short finish on this one, and has more of a earth vibe to it. Gone is the smoke, and left is a really dirty finish that isn’t so fun to me.
Conclusion: All in all, I prefer this to Tobermory 10, however not by much. It’s a good start to showing what the malt can do.
If you have a friend that likes peat but wants a cheaper option, it can do it for you. Also if you love an earthy finish. All in all nice, but I probably won’t be going for a bottle. I hope the 18 year tastes better.
This took awhile to review. Thanks to the team that put this together.
If you were around 2 years-ish ago, you’d have noticed that /r/Scotchdid it’s own bottling. And we choose a peated one, because we’re nothing if not predictable.
At first I was afraid, I was petrified. I couldn’t stand the thought of having a special release by my side. But then I got to thinking about how Tobermory did me wrong, and decided not to base judging others on it, and I grew strong.
But I carry on. Ledaig 7 Peated Sherry Cask /r/Scotchpick is what came from that adventure. And I ordered some to friends of mine, and then waited to visit them in the UK and brought it back.
Then I ended up with a bunch of other Ledaig’s, tried a Ledaig while on holiday (see below), and now I’m back here with that same look on my review.
Because I’m a survivor.
So let’s see how this one tastes, shall we?
Price: N/A in Ontario
Cask Type: Peated Sherry Cask
Bottle No: 86/110
Colour: 7.5YR 6/8
Nose: Seared steak, cherry tobacco, sea air, lemon, grass, lime, fennel
Right off the bat I can see why this one was picked. It has this initial complexity that lingers beautifully.
Honestly think I’m having a steak with a cherry compote while eating it. It’s like it’s from outer space, it’s that odd and unique. I am blown away at the complexity on a young malt.
Taste: Peat, mushroom, anise, currant, caramel, rice pudding, straw, pear, dry
Not as complex as the nose, however based on the amount of notes I took, and the different types, it really does show itself off well. Kinda dry, but also quite tasty with those signature peat notes.
And I have to say, the sherry mixed with the Tobermory earthiness really makes for a nice dram. But I’ve said that before, so maybe I should go on now, out the door.
Finish: Anise, funk, grape, earth, grass, plum, peanut brittle, smoke
I’m noticing that this sweet and peanut flavour shows up in Ledaigs every so often. The earth is still there, however the peat hasn’t been toned down, so it all gang bangs your tongue to the point where you wonder how you’ll get along.
Conclusion: Oh well, I will survive.
This is a good bottle, and I’m glad I bought it. It tastes like barbecue and tasty red fruits and tons of other great flavours. The taste is the only “down side”, but that’s made up by an insane nose. Seriously, this is really, really worth buying. Super tasty.
Thanks to /u/devoz for the sample.
Originally was going to split a bottle with /u/devoz, however in the end he ended feeling it wasn’t up to my quality standards, so he opted to trade me a sample instead.
Which was nice, but then it made me wonder: Do I have quality standards? I mean, I do, but I also review goddamn everything as well. So why shouldn’t I review Ledaig SMWS 42.15 “Oscillations of light and shade”?
I mean, the silly name aside, I’m really interested in this one. It’s a 19 year old whisky. Older than the oldest OB Ledaig you can buy. That’s something right there.
So here we are. Trying something I was told was “much too hot”. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: N/A in Ontario
Age: 19 years
Date Distilled: May 1995
Cask type: Refill hogshead
Colour: 5Y 9/6
Nose: Grapefruit, smoke, violet, passionfruit, very salty, orange, candied lemon rind
Not what I was expecting. At all. This is like a peated Lowland that has written too many books of poetry. All over the place.
Lots of citrus on the nose. Also quite briny. Maybe reminds me of the cocktail “salty dog”, but… not 100%.
Taste: Butter, smoke, floral, orange, anise, lemonade, Tabasco
I can see why /u/devoz said this was quite hot. There’s a lot of heat on the taste, and as time goes on it just gets hotter.
That said, it also has that lovely citrus and floral notes, albeit less structured and more basic. Kinda buttery too, which is nice.
Finish: Light brown sugar, mangosteen, lemon, rosemary, tangerine
Odd finish. More fruit, and some of the Ledaig/Tobermory earth is there, granted with a more herbal bent to it. Really reminds me of Rums I’ve had in the past.
Conclusion: I think I liked this one more than /u/xile_ and /u/devoz. It’s certainly really hot and less complex than a 19 year old dram should be. That said, there’s enough craziness going on that I’m sad I didn’t end up with a bottle.
This is unique. Not great, but unique. It needs some work, however I’m guessing that it started taking on too much oak with time, so they pulled it to keep it from going over the cliff. All in all, nice dram.
I’m in the UK a year ago, having a great time in Bath. Not in the Bath, in the city of Bath. Yes, that Bath, not the bath.
And we go into a store, and they have minis, so I’m already half erect. I go through and find two such minis to go with the Ledaig I’m bringing home.
The first one? Ledaig 1998 Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice . This one is aged in refill sherry hogsheads, so it differs from others that have a mix of ex-sherry and ex-bourbon. It is not cask strength, and I believe it is chill filtered.
That said, I didn’t know the difference between this one and the 1994 at the time, so I thought it’d be interesting to see how 4 years made a difference. Turns out it’s 4 years and two different types of casks, but who cares.
I’m going to drink it and review it, and you’re going to read it, and we’re all going to hope this fucking migraine I have dies in a hole.
Price: N/A in Ontario
Cask Type: Refill Sherry hogsheads
Colour: 5Y 9/4
Nose: Peach, smoke, butter, pear, hoppy funk, straw, lemon
If you like beer, then this whisky is for you. It’s buttery, kinda acidic, and hoppy.
Now do I like beer? Not really. I like porters and stouts with less hops. So for me this is a little rough on the hops. And the straw portion really takes over after awhile.
Taste: Peat, lemon, funk, anise, custard, cassia buds, sarsaparilla
More funk, like a men’s locker room after a rough game. That said, it eventually has this really good root beer flavour that I love. And as I normally can’t have custard due to allergies, I’m loving the creamy, eggy side to it too.
Finish: Smoke, apple, cumin, pop rocks, peanut brittle, cashew
Here’s more peanut brittle. The finish is rather short, poppy, and kinda meh. I think watering it down cut away a lot of the potential here.
Conclusion: I didn’t know this was a sherry casked whisky until after reading up on it. After I drank the whisky.
I’m assuming it was a lighter sherry in a much loved cask. I don’t mind it, however there’s a funk in there that can get a little ornery. As well, the nose put me off a little too much. I like the finish, but it was short and left me wanting this to be cask strength.
All in all, a good dram for the price, a good dram to try, and could be a hidden gem for some people. Just not for me.
So now we have Ledaig 1994 Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice. What’s the difference? Well this was aged in remade refill ex-bourbon hogsheads. And it was made 4 years earlier.
Otherwise it’s the same dram. You know how all those things have no effect, right?
Oh wait, they have tons of effects. I guess I should just drink it and see the difference.
Price: N/A in Ontario
Cask Type: Remade refill ex-bourbon hogsheads
Colour: 5Y 9/4
Nose: Chilli powder (fades after a few seconds), peach, straw, pear, butter, floral, vanilla
Starts out hot, however that goes away quick. This reminds me of the last one, however there’s more vanilla.
Oh and no hoppy funk either. More subtle than the last one.
Taste: Vanilla ice cream, pear, honey, Tabasco, balsamic vinegar, lime
And now we really change things up. I think it was a mix of sherry and the dram that gave the root beer, because now it’s more vanilla and honey.
Kinda hot, so if that’s not your thing, skip this one. But it works somehow with a lime and honey flavour, like a Tex-Mex grilled chicken.
Finish: Pear, oak, sesame, jalapeno, dough, mesquite
Like a young Irish whiskey or maybe a young American Single Malt. Odd way to finish. The earth from Ledaig strikes again.
I like the mesquite aspect though. And sesame.
Conclusion: Better than the last one as there’s less pain throughout. Don’t get me wrong: This can be a hot dram, though that doesn’t really dominate too much. It’s subtle in the right way.
I’d say that whatever franken-cask they used may have thrown some curve balls, however this ended up being a nice dram. Definitely worth the price.
Scotch reviews #452-456, Island reviews #38-42, Whisky Network reviews #729-733