42 is either Tobermory, or Ledaig – this one is definitely Ledaig. Its spent 8 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead and then was transferred to in to a new oak barrique for a final year of finishing. Peated profile.
Nose: Ashy! Steeped black tea, beef stock, BBQ sauce and pork scratchings make for a meaty opener. This is all wrapped up in a huge sense of ashiness – burnt out fires, coal dust, cinders in the bottom of the oven – it’s fairly pervasive. Additional flavours of cola, pine and slight salty sweatiness add interesting layers. Water brings out a touch of rubber tyres and also adds some herbalness – rosemary.
Taste: A great arrival and offering a grippy mouthfeel – This is deep, strong and heavy. Immediate liquorice and seriously big aniseed start things rolling. Then, its BBQ and ash again – pork, demi-glace, stock and gravy – all smoked of course. There’s sweetness here in amongst the ash and meat – root beer, cola and anise. It’s all quite odd, but fascinating at the same time. The addition of water improves overall integration and adds yet more ash and a touch of chalkiness.
Finish: Long, sticky and still grippy on the back of the palate.
Hugely idiosyncratic Ledaig. Whilst one could argue that SMWS missed a trick with the naming of 42.42 (‘Life the universe and everything’ - seems oh so appropriate), you can’t deny the massive ashy flavour of this whisky. I found it supremely complicated, and so meaty that it was almost a meal in one. Worryingly drinkable at 61.2%, though improved with a little dilution – I can see this one (like many Ledaigs) dividing the audience. Currently I’m rather fond of deep, sooty and savoury things, so this scores highly to my taste.