Ledaig, SMWS 42.18 Purple Relaxation 9yo
(Distilled 5/10/06, refill ex-bourbon barrel, 234 bottles, 59.3%)
People seems to be catching on to the quality of modern Ledaig, possibly only hindered by confusion over how it should be pronounced. Google and you’ll be confronted with confident assertions that it’s “led-chig”, “lay-dayg”, “let-chick” or several other possibilities. No wonder the distillery where this whisky is produced changed their name to Tobermory…
Nose: For a young, peaty and very strong whisky this is amazingly gentle. It’s sweetly herbal, with thyme, lavender and hops; plus a few Love Hearts and Parma Violets. There’s a definite maritime edge too, with some seaside pebbles, chalk and driftwood. A minute or two in the glass brings out an increasing musky melon-type fruitiness.
Taste: Sweet, smoky and mellow – even at nearly 60%. There’s a bit of ale, and then pretty much everything from the nose. The fruitiness is more pronounced, however, and almost jammy with plums, peach and cherry. There’s a slightly fizzy Parma Violet / Flying Saucer thing happening too.
Finish: Long. Sweet and slightly salty. You’re left with an aftertaste of lavender, rooibos and chamomile tea.
I ordinarily wouldn’t even think of drinking a whisky of this strength neat – let alone one that’s peated and fairly young – but it’s somehow entirely approachable and even, as the label suggests, calming. You can chuck in loads of water if you like and it hardly makes a difference. It must be the spirit talking, as there’s barely any cask influence here after nine years in a refill barrel.
However it’s done this – like most of the similar Ledaigs I’ve tried – is a great whisky, and very solid value for money at the moment. Let’s not pretend we’re wafting in rarified airs where that isn’t a consideration! If you’re a fan of peaty whiskies you really should give this a try.