Ledaig 18 Years

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Distillery/Brand: Ledaig | Region: Isle of Mull | ABV: 46.3% | Colour: Old Gold
Nose: 21 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 87

I recently attended a lovely tasting for Burn Stewart Distillery where they served samples from both their whiskies. The unpeated Tobermory and the lightly peated Ledaig.

The evening was conducted by their Master Blender Ian MacMillan who was there to not only educate us but share with us two exclusive firsts.

The first of those firsts was the much awaited Ledaig 42 which has been piquing curiosity around the whisky world. We were very much privileged to have tasted that.

The other, which seemingly flew by beneath the radar, was also a first for Ledaig; their 18 year old. This is the first 18 year old released by the distillery and is quite an accomplished little whisky.

Finished off for eighteen months in Oloroso casks my sample is from a brand new bottle and served un-chill filtered with no coloring at 46.3% ABV

Nose: A little musty. Apples. Cigar leaf. Jaggery. Quite earthy. Dry leaves. Caramel. Touch of smoke. Dark chocolate. Oak. Gets sweeter over time. Butterscotch. Cinnamon. Black pepper. Maybe even some red chili. Touch of salt. This is a nice enough nose. Needs to time to sit and breathe in order to lose the mustiness which I’m not very fond of. Hadn’t dissipated completely by the time I was done with it but I knew it was on the way out.

Palate: Dark honey. Caramel. Black peppers. Cinnamon. Red berries. Salt. Brown chocolate. Spiced coffee. Quite nice on the palate. The spices arrive soon after the sweetness with a touch of oak. Goes back to being sweet then spicy again. Interesting.

Finish: Peat smoke. Oily. Mild spices. Hint of oak.

Overall Comments: My least favorite dram of the evening but still a fine whisky which should say a lot about the skills of Ian MacMillan.

Rating: 87


Ledaig 42 Years

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Distillery/Brand: Ledaig | Region: Isle of Mull | ABV: 46.3% | Colour: Oloroso Sherry
Nose: 24 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 92

Living in Dubai has it’s up side when it comes to whiskies. With the enormous amount of wealth and buying power this little city has there is little discussion on where luxury spirits need to be unveiled to maximize their full sales value.

I say this because I attended two back-to-back events which were quite possibly the two most exclusive launches this year. The first one was the unveiling of the Chivas Regal Icon – a $3500 blend put together by Sir Colin Scot – available only in Dubai for the next few months.

And literally the next day was the launch of the Ledaig 42 year old. Yes, a 42 year old Ledaig which has been in the news not only for it’s hefty price tag – 3,500 GBP – but the fact that it has been quite well crafted and, surprisingly for something this old, still manages to retain it’s peaty aromas.

Our host for the evening was Master Blender Ian MacMillan of Burn Stewart Distilleries and the man behind this whisky. Ian is not only an affable and likeable person he is an extremely accomplished whisky maker as was evident from all the expressions on the menu. We tasted the Tobermory 10 & 15, the Ledaig 10 and the newly introduced Ledaig 18 and finally the whisky of the evening the 42 year old.

I have to admit after last night I am now a huge fan of this distillery from Mull.

OK. Now on to why you’re really reading this review.

Distilled in 1972 there is little or no official literature on the life of this whisky other than it has been housed in various casks until in 2001 Ian transferred the remaining spirit into some high-quality Gonzales Byass oloroso sherry cask.

After five years of close supervision the casks were transferred back to Tobermory until it was time to bottle the spirit.

With only 500 bottles released my sample is from a brand new bottle with a strength of 46.3%. Un-chill filtered and all natural color.

Nose: Hint of peat. Touch of smoke. Wonderfully balanced with dark chocolate and ginger. Dry dates. Dried fruits. Dark strawberry jam. Black currant. Dried rose. Touch of mint. A dab of salt. I really really like this nose. Beautifully layered. Nothing tired about the oak. And the peat plays beautiful support to the Oloroso dry sweetness.

Palate: Cinnamon. Salt. Black pepper. Warm honey. Caramel. Solid oak. The same dark jams. Ginger. Hint of balsamic. Treacle. With an after-taste of betel leaf. Nice crisp flavors on point. Again the balance of flavors reign supreme. The spices, the smoke and the sweetness work quite nicely with each other.

Finish: Red apples. Ginger. Oak. Spices

It was indeed a privilege to be able to taste what so few people in the world will be able to try thanks to it’s rarity and premium price tag.

However, it wouldn’t be a Malt Activist post without a signature pompous opinion.

Granted the whisky is rare and quite wonderfully crafted the real question you have to ask your self is whether or not it’s worth the 3,500 GBP price tag. It’s great for discussions and to parade in front of your jealous friends but to drink I’ve had many a better. Which, of course, given the thousands out there is hardly surprising.

However, what did make me smile in ironic satisfaction was the fact that we were served the Ledaig 10 as a welcome drink to appease us before the big show. That whisky, in my inflated opinion, is hands down a much much better single malt than the one that was being paraded atop a pedestal.

Don’t get me wrong. The Ledaig 42 is a beautiful drink but if you truly want to experience an essay in simplicity and good craftsmanship try the 10.

It’s at times like these I love the fact that I write about whisky. When pre-conceived notions and slick marketing and suggested opinions come crashing down in the face of honest comparisons.

When it’s perfectly legitimate to pit a 35 GBP whisky against a 3500 GBP whisky. And the satisfaction you get when the cheaper one wins!

Love it…

Rating: 92