Ledaig, 11yo 2005 Single Malts of Scotland
(Distilled 5/6/05, bottled 6/7/16, sherry butt #900161, 564 bottles, 56.8%)
Ledaig is everywhere these days (if someone wants to sell me a cask then *makes phone-me gesture*) and pretty much uniformly superb. It’s funny that I don’t really get on with Tobermory, but the peated spirit that flows from the same stills I find to be exemplary. Most of the casks being bottled are ex-bourbon, but here’s a fairly heavily-sherried one for contrast.
Nose: Big, coastal, peaty with a bit more of an iodine tang than most Ledaigs. Fragrant pipe tobacco, and a sort of dark smouldering quality. Behind that there is a similarly dark fruitiness, with an acidic edge to it – something like pickled Morello cherries perhaps. With a splash of water more sweetness comes out – in fact it’s like poking your nose into an old-fashioned sweetshop.
Taste: Huge, with chunky peat and masses of fruit. I’m imagining some sort of expensive fruit jellies: orange, quince, mango. More smouldering, but this time cedar wood. Liquorice. Carbolic soap. There’s a slightly chalky edge to the sweetness, like Edinburgh Rock.
Finish: Sweet and deep and dark. Chocolate with a cherry jelly centre. Stays sweet right to the end, but with a slightly dry pineapple quality and a little bag of spices. Lovely long aftertaste of bonfire, salty treacle toffee and a faint TCP waft.
A massive whisky this, and perfectly drinkable neat assuming you’re of sound health and a robust frame of mind. Consult your family physician if you’re not sure. The sherry is nicely judged, and you still get the blade-like Ledaig spirit showing through, but balanced by prodigious amounts of fruit and smoke. The sweetness is there right through it too. It’s just hugely enjoyable to drink, although not subtle.
But, for those times when you’d like to be figuratively smacked around the chops, it is highly recommended.
(Incidentally, when adding water to this dram it goes incredibly cloudy – not so much the normal Scotch mist as a Scotch peasouper! Presumably all those lovely lipids and oils and fatty acids are playing a part in how big and hefty this whisky is on the palate…)
(Incidentally #2, it took me ages to drag Edinburgh Rock from the crannies of my memory. The taste was utterly distinct and familiar and yet I couldn’t connect it up to the actual real-world object. It’s funny how smell and taste can do that. Very concrete and very abstract simultaneously…)