Ledaig 11yo 2005/2017 (61.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, Butt, 450 bottles)

As already mentioned in the last review of a Ledaig; Springbank is one of my favourite distilleries. I love the output of it, Springbank, Longrow and Hazelburn, all very good. However, the last few years Springbank has become excessively popular, and apart from the 10yo expression, I can’t really buy any of the other expressions normally in my country. Some shops also mark up according to demand, and thus are asking silly money, so my only chance is the secondary market, which is also a pretty expensive these days. When looking at alternatives, Ledaig comes to mind. In the previous review of Ledaig, a 12yo G&M bottling, which was finished for three years in a Wine cask, so may not hove been the best of expressions to check out if this would be a contender to reach out for when Springbank is not available. Ledaig is not really more of the same, it is quite different, however, when you have a craving for something Springbank-y and you don’t have it, or can’t have it, this might come in handy. Tobermory (the distillery that produces a peated expression calling it Ledaig) used to have quite a wonky reputation, and I do have tasted some dodgy Tobermory’s and Ledaigs in the past. But the last two decades or so, they seem to have bumped into their muse and are making some pretty good stuff. Just have a look this official 18yo or the G&M Reserve and G&M Cask Strength I reviewed earlier.

In 2017 Cadenhead had it’s 175th Anniversary, and I believe, Mark W. bottled some of their best stock at the time, recognizable by the extra added copper plate hanging from the neck of the bottle. A thing to look out for IMHO. Just like the 10th Anniversary Port Askaig, this is an almost empty bottle. Low level, because it is just so damn good, and drams like these just don’t stay around on my lectern for all too long…

Color: Gold.

Nose: Ashy peat yet more smoky and sooty than peaty alone. Distant smoked fruits and medicinal, lots of iodine, just perfect. Nice sweet spicy and chewy warm wood note, as well as a faint industrial rubbery and oily note. It’s like the smell of an old steam locomotive, or any other old well-oiled (steam) machine, standing around for ages in a museum. Paint (sometimes borderline polyester), old Martinique Rhum, perfumy (at times fresh and soapy, in a good way) and floral as well. Salty? Dry garden waste, including grass (dry as well) so not the wet or moist rotting stuff. December bonfire and crushed beetle, nutty and milk chocolate. A blend of dried kitchen spices and pencil shavings. No way to contain this. I just put the glass far away from me and still this reaches my nose easily. A nice fruity acidity combines with bold fruity notes. Hints of ripe and sweet black berries. Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts. Clean, chewy and big. After some breathing, hints of oak emerge, as well as some hot oil emanating from a sowing machine. A much cleaner smelling oil than the oil coming from old machines. This one has it all. One of the best balanced noses I’ve come to smell in a long time. This is special stuff with seemingly endless layers of aroma’s. As said earlier, just perfect if you are into this kind of stuff. And this one also works very well smelling it outside in clean fresh air. Amazing stuff.

Taste: Prickly smoke and peat upfront. Dry. Wow. Sweet nutty wax, crushed beetle again, with a rather strange red fruit acidity bubbling up, in part artificial, yet soon to be overpowered by the soot and ashes. Some plastics and polyester pop up, aiding the artificial red fruit feel, or maybe causing it? Medium red fruits and again quite some soot and ashes. Hints of latex paint. Toffee sweetness and chewy as well. The peat and smoke combo remain omnipresent throughout this dram. Simpler than the amazing nose, yet with a nice long and lingering finish and warm bonfiery aftertaste. Wonderful dram. Amazing 11yo. Tobermory distillery is killing it with Ledaig recently.

Yup, here we have an another Ledaig-belter on our hands. The nose is perfect, and the palate, and even though this is somewhat simpler, it is most definitely “not bad” as well, just not in the same league, close though, don’t you worry. In the end, this is pure joy (especially when combined with some great avant-garde live performances of Frank Zappa and the Mothers from the sixties). Big and busy band, big and busy Whisky.

Points: 91

Bowmore Week – Day 5: Bowmore 14yo 1992/2006 (54.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 294 bottles)

Bowmore WeekAfter the new Small Batch Bowmore by Cadenhead’s, here is another 14yo, older, Cadenhead’s bottling but this time from the Authentic Collection. This is an older version distilled in 1992 and bottled in 2006. This is a single cask Whisky, bottled at cask strength as opposed to the newer Small Batch reviewed earlier that was from multiple (two) Bourbon Hogsheads.

Bowmore 14yo 1992-2006 (54.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 294 bottles)Color: Light gold.

Nose: Überclean Bowmore. Malty, buttery and spicy. Lots of green leaves, vegetal freshness and licorice (with ashes). Very interesting nose. Again a Bowmore that has a perfumy note. It’s typical even though this isn’t a FWP-whisky, but it ís from the times a lot of Bowmores suffered from this phenomenon. Still this is a fine, rather clean and citrussy nose. Not a lot of smoke and peat come to think of it.

Taste: Sweet, some notes from white wine (very nice), quite spicy, but mostly sweet, or half-sweet as they say. Wood influence a small hints of soap. It almost tastes like a Fino Sherry cask matured whisky. Nice balance between the sweetness and the (white wine) acidity (lemon). Nice and it has good drinkability. I don’t want to scare you away, but even the texture is a bit soapy. Still not a FWP- Whisky though. A little bit hot, but not peppery as other Bowmores.

As said before, this is not a FWP-Whisky but it is from the feared era, and it does have some soapy and perfumy traits. It was on the wrong path but finally didn’t go astray. Hardly peaty nor smoky. There is some peat here, but that is a bit flowery and elegant. A Bowmore on the precipice I would say.

Cleaning my glass, it started foaming a bit 🙂

Points: 86

Thanks go out to Andre Z. who loaned me the bottle.