OB or IB? There are pros and cons to each, really.
You end up paying more for OBs. However, you can take a picture of it and people on the internet will adore the picture. Or perhaps will just be jealous. IBs don’t get that love, and I don’t really get it, but here we are.
You buy the IB. Can’t post it online. Not everyone recognizes it. There’s no consistency. Post a picture of something people have seen behind glass at their local for beaucoup bucks and watch the likes/upvotes stream in. Post an IB that’s cask strength, half the price, and maybe not with a kick-ass picture on it? People are snoring unless maybe it’s an HK exclusive.
What if I told you there was more to the whisky than the bottle and likes? You’d be shocked. No one is opening these, right?
Alright, enough mocking and ranting. Today I’m trying two independently bottled Ledaig. Up first we have Ledaig 17 Blackadder Raw Cask, a 17-year-old Ledaig aged in a Hogshead, and we’ll be comparing it to Ledaig 19 Pedro Ximenez Cask Finish, a 19-year-old Ledaig that was aged in a hogshead and finished in a sherry cask.
Which did I prefer? Let’s see, shall we?
Starting with Ledaig 17 Blackadder Raw Cask
Thanks to xile_ for sharing this dram
Price: € 119
Cask Type: Hogshead
Cask Number 800134
Number of bottles: 297
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Cigarette, lemon, cocoa, brown sugar, grass, almond
Initial ash is a bit off-putting unless you’re one of those lucky ones who got addicted to those things in your teens. And by lucky I mean cancerous.
Mellows out, gives you some nice grass/almond/sweet notes. Never gets too sweet. Think a good balanced double chocolate cookie. Or don’t if you’re trying to lose weight. Whatever, I’m not your mother.
Taste: Passionfruit, smoke/ash, lemongrass, bubblegum, brown sugar
Funky and tropical. Smoke/ash is less in your face, smells closer to a charcoal grill now. Gets oddly sweet with water. Smoke and funk and fruit, all in a unique way, with a clump of molasses. Colour me crazy, it’s a Tuesday all over again.
Finish: Cocoa, banana, funk, caramel, grain, lime, smoke
Chocolate banana smoke finish. Why am I still writing, that speaks for itself! Damn tasty, if simpler, at the end.
Conclusion: Given how hard it is to find these quintessential Ledaigs, this is very nice. And has a really cool finish that shows off the variability of this one. They’ve added good sherry notes to a good ex-bourbon cask. It’s not a finish to hide a shitty dram, but rather a good mixture of casks that elevates it up.
In other words, it’ll be hard for the OB to fight against it.
Now onto Ledaig 19 Pedro Ximenez Cask Finish
Thanks to devoz for sharing this dram
Price: € 160
Cask Type: Pedro Ximenez Cask Finish
Colour: 5YR 5/10
Nose: Butter, mesquite smoke, clementine, hazelnut, chocolate chip banana bread
Buttery, smoke, orange, lots of sherry influence. Water brings out that much-beloved funk, fruit, and chocolate notes.
All big notes, very distinct. Funk is what this is about.
Taste: Passionfruit, banana, cereal, black licorice, tobacco (Cinnamon, buttery, herbal)
Ah, my hatred of tobacco strikes again! Joking aside I really like the funk again, and enjoy the development on the peat/spice, however, my anger at a plant that kills people but has distinct flavours and should be used in moderation is showing here.
In a less word salad way, me no likely tobacco.
Finish: Bacon, currant, anise, banana, salt, oak, lemon/lime
Bacon and funk? And less tobacco? Alright, I’m back in baby! Sweety! Something? I don’t know, I wrote it, seems creepy, should I delete? Nah.
Conclusion: Funk Heaven. Pure and simple this is a fun dram. I both love it due to my bias for PX casked whiskies and don’t like that tobacco note.
Does it win over the IB? Just barely. If I liked tobacco? By a lot more. This shouldn’t happen, because it makes my original point hard to prove, and therefore I’m a sad monkey.
Joking aside, it’s nice to see this happen, and I think that speaks volumes to Ledaig in this case rather than being a one-off point in a drum I beat as if it owed me money.
In the end? Both very, very good Ledaigs, and neither should be turned down, unless you don’t like peat or funk or happiness.
Scotch review #1288-9, Island review #142-143, Whisky Network review #1941-2