On a blustery, chilly day like today, pouring a glass of peated whisky, closing your eyes and letting the imagination run wild, you can almost feel yourself on a remote part of some windswept island in the Hebrides. Well, you can if you have an overly vivid imagination and, perhaps, may have read one too many whisky marketing blurbs! Still, there is wee bit of truth to the idea that a peated whisky conjures up the images of the rugged, raw nature of a remote Scottish island and which further translates into a truly distinct nosing and tasting experience. And speaking of distinct, in this next step in my closet clean-out project, today we’re looking at the Ledaig 10 year old, a peated single malt whisky from the Tobermory Distillery. (How’s that for a segue!)
Very quickly, a little about the distillery! The Tobermory Distillery, located on the picturesque Isle of Mull, has a long, albeit sporadic, history of whisky production, suffering long periods of inactivity, and even a decades long closure that saw most of the buildings dismantled and left to ruin. Thankfully, the distillery was reopened in 1989, and then purchased in 1991 by Burn Stewart Distillers who have expanded the availability of their malts. Tobermory produces regularly produces two distinct style of whiskies: Tobermory, which is their unpeated version, and Ledaig, a peated malt.
Review: Ledaig 10 year old, Single Malt Scotch, Bottled 2015, P029220 L5 08:46 1306, 46.3% abv
Color: Chardonnay gold.
Nose: (N) Ah, yes, bring on the funk! A dirty, grimy, earthy, oily, diesel-y, smoked fishy, rubbery peat smoke greets you from the start. There are no apologies in this nose, it is what it is! Big, audacious, abrupt, and, that’s the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it, uh huh, uh huh! But it really is more than a one-trick pony. Behind the peat there are notes of cut grass, a subtle vanilla, some herbal spices, tropical fruits, lime zest, and green apples. (W) With a couple drops of water, this changes fairly significantly, bringing out a more vanilla-focused profile. Sure, the peat and smoke are still there, but they are no longer so dominating.
Taste: (N) Vanilla is more evident on the palate, showing up early and staying late. Yet there is also a slight saltiness in this one. There are the tropical fruits – pineapple and banana; green apples and lime zest, a buttery/bready note (think flour tortilla), and a more subtle rubbery, earthy peat, with a drop of iodine and some smoked fish. (W) Water also brings out more vanilla, with the palate becoming quite a bit sweeter. But beyond the increase in vanilla, this remains fairly consistent. Lime and the tropical fruits; salty, delicate smoke, the saltiness, and a little more vanilla.
Finish: As the peat sort of picks up late in the palate, it carries over into the finish where it is a prominent note. There is that soft saltiness, the smoke, lime and vanilla, ending with a sooty and dry aspect.
Overall: Ledaig has this wonderfully odd quality that I really enjoy. Similar to some of the Port Charlotte, Springbank, and Ben Nevis, the peaty notes in the Ledaig 10 are quirky, grimy, weird, and probably not for the novice. But if you’re a fan of those traits, you’ll enjoy this one. Sure, this is not the most complex whisky out there, but it has a character that is fun, there is plenty of peat influence if you enjoy peat, and it also represents a fairly good value-to-quality ratio.
Distillery: Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Scotland
Type: Single Malt
Age: 10 years
Maturation: Not disclosed, but likely prominently ex-bourbon casks
Price: $50 (Specs)
Availability: Usually available
Sample Source: My own bottle