This year’s Limited Release Ledaig is once again sherry finished, but rather than the PX and oloroso of 2018, this time around we have manzanilla. Manzanilla sherry is very similar to fino in that they are made the same way. Both are ‘flor’ sherries, where a thin layer of yeast (Saccharomyces – an abundant airborne yeast strain) forms on top of the sherry wine in the ‘head room’ of the barrel. The flor layer encases the liquid protecting it from oxidisation. Fino and manzanilla are both biologically aged under this layer of flor, whereas oxidative sherries (such as amontillado, oloroso and PX) may spend some, or even none of their time protected by flor. The manzanilla variety is made around the port of Sanlucar de Barrameda in Cadiz, Spain.
The bottling was initially matured in refill ex-bourbon hogsheads before being re-racked into manzanilla hogsheads for an unspecified finishing period. 1602 bottles have been produced at an ABV of 52.9% and an RRP of £160.
Nose: Intense ashiness – dry, crystalline and pungent with coastal nuances. Lobster baskets, crab shacks and buttered scallops sit with tart green apples and redcurrant jelly. Minerality is never far away – seashells, limestone and quartz-y sharpness. Smoked fish (not quite kipper level of intensity) and spent cigarettes sit with beef dripping and farmyard haylofts. Reduction introduces petrichor, ozone and room ioniser - an interesting mix of fresh breeze and muggy fustiness.
Taste: Rich and oily with ash now joined by a tarry sherry influence – brown sugars, balsamic, burnt toffee and bitumen. The sweetest of road surfacing projects. Over-reduced honeycomb and crusted pan sugars are joined by burnt ends, beef brisket and smoked fish. The mid-palate delivers new fruit elements – redcurrant and raspberry jams, whilst slate and pebbles reinforce the natural minerality of the underlying spirit. Dilution adds orange juice and lemon-drizzled oysters as well as emphasising chalkiness and hewn limestone.
Finish: Very long , quite tarry and with medicinal qualities pushing through – wipes, bandages and antiseptic creams.
Two-worlds collide with this manzanilla finished Ledaig. Take the underlying coastalness and minerality of the spirit, add layers of sticky sweetness and fruit – then smoke the lot over fatty meats and tobacco leaves. Whilst that might sound like a typically weird Ledaig, actually, the length of maturation has resulted in a rather more restrained and civilised eventual composition. Less aberrant, but no less delicious - and with some aroma and flavour complexities which are well-worth spending time unpicking.
But don't take our word for it..
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