Over to Mull, and Tobermory distillery for some of their peated whisky – Ledaig. This one has been matured for 9 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead before being transferred in to a customised cask – A charred 1st fill wine barrique fitted with heavily toasted heads. Peated profile.
Nose: There’s something very unLedaig about this Ledaig, and yet it also seems right at home immediately. Yellow corns, sweetcorn and popcorn mixed up with maple smoked bacon and meat pan juices. Then, sharpness – gooseberries and young ‘green’ white wine. Finally, vegetation….and plastic. The addition of water is transformative, moving us from meatiness over to a vegetarian dinner – celery, onions and nettles. Thought-provoking, but frankly a little bit odd.
Taste: The intrigue continues with a very textural arrival that is part oily, part chalky – its certainly got some weight to it. Sweetness to begin – honey and juicy sugar filled oranges, then the meat – pork ribs and BBQ burnt ends. Smoke follows, but it’s muted and very unphenolic – chalk and dust – a little farmy. The back palate brings florals (as if we’ve not had enough different styles already) – grasses and roots. Water once again adds vegetables – sweet onions in this case, along with sugary lemon juice and a few hints of toffee.
Finish: Medium, quite drying and quite chalky.
This Ledaig is quite fascinating, but at the same time rather strange. In a way that should not surprise me as Ledaig is a bit of an odd one at the best of times, but this custom wine cask ups the weirdness another notch. All the flavours are well-defined, interesting and work with the underlying Ledaig spirit – but do they all work together? and do we need them all at the same time? Hmmmm. Tough call. There’s so much going on here that I spent a good 15 minutes thinking about it – so if you’re looking for complexity, this whisky has more than enough to spare. But, if you’re looking for simple deliciousness, this might not be for you. It’s multifaceted, a bit muddled and not particularly accessible. For thinking rather than drinking.