Thanks to /u/xile_ and /u/devoz for giving me these samples.
Somehow, without falling over and turning into a puddle of alcohol, I’ve hit 1,500 whisky reviews. It’s an odd moment. I started out with the mentality that people only read my reviews because they were funny, I mentioned pop culture moments, and I made dick jokes. Especially the dick jokes. If I learned anything from Shakespeare, it’s that the people want and love Dick Jokes.
Now there’re people who read these and are fans, which is odd. I’m not the next coming of Michael Jackson (either one), nor do I think everything I write is a gospel of some sort. I hold myself to some level of quality and realize after my attempt at making a video that people read these for actual information, and from my friends that people expect me to be correct.
It’s odd, to say the least.
So the question comes down: What whisky, or whiskies, does one do for ones 1,500th whisky review. I considered a standard Bourbon that I’ve missed, however, the numerical gods (we call them actuaries) weren’t kind, leaving me in the midst of a whole bunch of whiskies that I had reviewed lately, not many of which you’d call “legendary”. It became hard to pick out what or where I should be posting.
So I reflected on the past few years and looked over what I had and what I’ve done. Ledaig kept popping up as a distillery (well, a release from the Tobermory distillery) that was consistently reviewed, enjoyed, and surprising.
As I said in a recent Tobermory review, Ledaig was a surprise for me. I wasn’t kind to Tobermory when I first (and even second, and third) reviewed it. Then I tried Ledaigs, and I loved it. My peat head tendencies came back, bringing with them a love of funk shared by our local tasting group.
To put it in perspective, at the time of writing this, My whisky average is roughly 77 (it will change as I post more, and these are written in advance). My average of Ledaig whiskies is 81.
But how did I build up four Ledaig samples of independent bottlers? Well turns out that Ledaig is a favourite in our group, and we split up bottles at tastings. Also turns out that when the planned tasting is done, we start into what’s within reaching distance. After being called out too many times on reviews for “not reviewing right” or for “having notes that I, someone who has never tried this whisky don’t think are possible”, I tend to cut myself off after 6 whiskies for reviews. Thus I grab some sample bottles and end up with four Ledaigs to be reviewed at a future time.
So yes, these may be difficult to find. And I apologize if that is annoying to read, as you may want these. However these were well praised from xile_ and devoz (save one) and I want this to be epic, so I’m reviewing them.
Let’s see how these taste, shall we?
Ledaig 10 2005 Wilson & Morgan
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Cask Number: 800069-72/75/76
Number of Bottles: 2184
Cask Type: Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Campfire, fresh bread, soil, mineral, grassy
Initial nose is a big old campfire. Wow, this nose is quite the crackerjack. However, it takes the funk and makes it into bread. Which was a great step forward for humanity, and not so much one of this dram.
Water brings out more soil, grass, and general things you get from gardening. Simpler.
Taste: Cereal, anise, butterscotch, strawberry, lemon pulp
Any peat here has gone the way of anise. It’s fruitier than the nose would ever let one. And that grassiness is drier now, more cereal based.
Lovely rich butterscotch, however, I’m still looking for that firecracker, like that one friend with three fingers and an explosive personality on national holidays.
Finish: Anise, brine, caramel, thyme, peat
More anise. That’s what hits you first and foremost. Any butter is now caramel here, though if you’ve eaten as much caramel as I have, you know those flavours are buddies.
Yes, I’m spending the day eating fruit and veggies, how did you know?
Here the vegetal peat is the least developed.
Conclusion: Unique butter and anise heavy. If you’re a fan of caramel then this will suck you in. And each aspect is different. The cereal and anise try to tie it all together.
That all said, as the guy who was weird in high school, it only takes you so far. This dram needs more to it, like a good personality, social skills, a skill, or at least some good looks. The more I dug deeper, the more shallow holes I dug. Wait, what does that mean? I mean that it had a big flavour at first to hide a lack of complexity.
Is it an impressive 10-year-old dram? Hell yes. Is it impressive compared to other Ledaigs I’ve had? Not so much. Glad I had it, but there’s better.
Ledaig 17 1998 Cooper’s Choice Sherry Cask Matured
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Cask Type: Sherry butt
Cask Number: 0035
Number of Bottles: 540
Colour: 10YR 4/6
Nose: Strawberry, herbal, cherry, funk, pineapple, buttered toast, peach jam
Amazing nose. Initial obvious sherry cask is obvious. Much wow. Then it smacks you down with a funky tropical combo.
Water brings more funk like that good friend who has good taste in music, albeit a few decades late. This keeps the funk while giving you more yeast. Guess seven years do make a difference, eh?
Taste: Cinnamon, apricot jam, mint, dulce de leche, caramelized ginger, kombucha peach
Initial jammy and spicy mixture. It’s like having one of those jams that go with meat, and at first, you’re all like “What the heck is this?” and then you try it and really get it.
Water makes it more of a sweet, funkier dram. That fruit funk from the nose pops up again.
Finish: Bacon, caramel, brine, peach, smoked pork chops, funk
Bacon is so powerful that it is one of two slices of meat that I have personally seen vegetarians and Kosher/Halal adherents break the rules for. Add in smoked pork chops, a dark horse in the temptation Olympics, and this finish could cause some changes if it was more popular.
Less funk here. It sticks to the meaty, salty finish here, with just a bit coming out with water.
Conclusion: Lots of funky flavours. I love funk as a flavour. I’m one of those hipsters who like fermenting his own bread, and the thick glasses kombucha devil on my shoulder is tempting me daily.
So this is right up my alley. Fruit and funky. Followed by a brine pork finish. Is there anything super complex? No super, but it’s got some big flavours. Overall a solid dram.
Ledaig 8 2008 Archives
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Cask Type: Sherry Butt
Cask Number: 700712
Number of Bottles: 609
Colour: 7.5Y 9/8
Nose: Grapefruit, popcorn, orange chocolate chip cookies, brown sugar oatmeal, banana
Lots of citruses here. But there’s something else. It’s all quite intertwined.
So my mom used to make these orange chocolate chip cookies. She was the only one who liked them in the family. However, they looked like normal orange chocolate chip cookies. Basically the equivalent of cult members in cookie forms. They sneak in and cause havoc. So it’s an interesting flavour, but it’s not bringing up happy memories for this cult-fearing person.
Taste: Lemongrass, caramel, apple, ginger, peach juice, warmth
More subdued citrus here. Grassier, more fruit and this feeling of warmth. Just constant warmth. think a warm apple cider. It builds slowly.
Actually, after having some warm apple cider a week later, I have to say it’s exactly that.
Finish: Algae, lime, Tobasco sauce, butter, floral, nectarine, vanilla, ginger warmth
There’s a thick mouthfeel mixed with a watery vegetal note here. It starts out like lighter fruity summer cocktail followed by that warmth again. And it’s hard to tell where it switches gears on this.
Conclusion: Lots of warmth. Perhaps it just does ginger that well. Or maybe somehow the alcohol chilled out at some point. Or maybe I’m hallucinating (always a possibility).
This is again a unique dram. It does a winter heat in a very interesting way. There’s quite a few notes up here that you can find in other drams, however put together in a combo with the other flavours, the ginger warmth, and even with the complex nose, this stands alone. It is the cheese of this review batch.
The only thing I will hold against it is my own bias. I can’t get past those rough orange cookie notes. So add some extra points if you’re an orange baked goods fan. I’ll silently judge you because of my past, which shouldn’t bother you, as I’m some schmuck on the internet.
Ledaig 19 Cadenhead’s Single Cask
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Cask Type: Bourbon hogshead
Number of Bottles: 252
Colour: 7.5Y 9/8
Nose: Mango lassie, chocolate, cassia buds, apple pie, cardamon coffee
Gentle. Really gentle. This amps up with time. I was expecting a brash dram based on previous reviews and conversations with xile_ and devoz, however here we are, slowly building in power.
That chocolate is evident, though water brings out a coffee note that I’m digging.
Taste: Caramel, hibiscus flower, milk chocolate, fresh lemonade, ginger oatmeal cookies, smoke
Interesting. More chocolate, but also some floral element, and even a nice flower that you’re expected to drink. You know, as opposed to violets you usually get from whisky.
Big flavours too. Fresh lemonade, not that typical crud you get from a bottle. Big ginger oatmeal flavours.
Finish: Caramilk, ginger tea, peach, basil, dark roast coffee
Bonkers flavours here. Chocolate and caramel in harmony, spiced tannins, herbal elements, and with water? The best dark roast coffee.
And yes, I know over roasting beans in coffee leads to a coffee without nuance, but I like it. I like big flavours and I cannot lie.
Conclusion: Wow. Just wow. I went into this expecting to be the one of us who didn’t love this, and that the hype was going to not live up to reality, yet here we are. A chocolate coffee filled dessert with complexity coming out its ying yang. And as someone who used to talk about his own ying yang all the time, I think I know something about things coming out of it.
Beyond the chocolate and caramel playing off each other, this just keeps giving. Floral, gin like aspects, stone fruits and citrus that are pulling everything up, and even some herbal to really trip you up.
I know it’s not around anymore, but if you see this, buy it. It’s worth it.
Scotch reviews #945-948, Island reviews #105-108, Whisky Network reviews #1498-1501
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