Ledaig 16yo 1997/2013 (56.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, for The Whisky Exchange, Refill Sherry Hogshead #465, AC/AEHI)

Third of October and right now the doors are opening for the 2015 Whisky Show in London, England. As many years before I’m attending this wonderful Whisky fest, the best few days of the year. Maybe not even the Whisky, but the people. I really can’t wait for it to begin. For those of you that are not there I’ll have a go here at a Ledaig (a.k.a. peated Tobermory) that was picked by The Whisky Exchange. This was a Whisky that was bottled a few weeks after the Whisky Show 2013, but luckily I got a chance to try from Gordon & MacPhail, before it was bottled. People from the Netherlands will know its sister cask #464 which was also excellent but much lighter in color.

Ledaig 16yo 1997/2013 (56.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, for The Whisky Exchange, Refill Sherry Hogshead #465)Color: Copper orange gold.

Nose: Fatty peat and candy sweetness. Animalesk and organic. Wild stuff. Hints of burnt cable. Unlit tobacco and dark chocolate powder. Very vegetal. Thick and full of itself. Big. Hints of vanilla and cream. Some dried grass and yes some wet grass from a muddy field in October as well. Funky fresh fungi. This never stops giving. Great peat that is balanced out nicely by the Sherry, but the former is the more dominant in this bottling.

Taste: Excellent entry. Sweet, mixed perfectly with licorice and lots of almonds. Even the wood is almondy. Utter and perfect balance. What a great integration of flavours. Red fruits and berries and hints of Gin. Fresh at times. Sea spray and hints of blobs of fresh fatty tar. Remember Lightning McQueen? Hints of stable (cow) and a bit of wood, but not much. Strange enough, with this amount of aroma and at almost 57% ABV., this only  has a medium finish, it gone sooner that you would want. Great aftertaste though. Almonds and red fruit. Salty lips!

If this would be older (tasting), had a longer finish and had even more added depth it would score well into the nineties. If it had more notes of curry and red peppers you could eat this dram. What a near-perfect modern dram this is. Excellent stuff can still be made. I’m happy I had some prior knowledge to snap this up when it was released.

Points: 90

Karuizawa 30yo 1983/2013 (55.8%, OB, Geisha Label, for The Whisky Exchange, Bourbon Cask #8606, 350 bottles)

Every time someone in the world dares to open a bottle like this, an earthquake occurs amongst collectors. Up ’till now lots of old bottles of Scottish Whiskies, particularly from closed or classic Speyside or Islay distilleries, fetched the highest prices. Today it may very well be Karuizawa, a Japanese Whisky, which is delicious and becoming extremely rare. These bottles are bottled, and hardly anyone opens them anymore. Well not Master Quill! I’m very happy to open my less than-half sample of this Karuizawa and share my thoughts with the world!

Karuizawa 30yo 1983/2013 (55.8%, OB, Geisha Label, for The Whisky Exchange, Bourbon Cask #8606, 350 bottles)Color: Vibrant full gold.

Nose: Wow, this emits heaps of aroma. Nice rubbery notes and extremely waxy. Fresh and vibrant and highly aromatic. It oozes a typical Japanese nutty kind of smell and cask toast. Fragrant green tea combined with the more obvious creamy vanilla note we know from casks made of American oak that once held Bourbon (or Tennessee Whiskey). There is some kind of sweet sensation underneath that reminds me a bit of hot sugar-water. The wood emits fresh oak and fresh tree sap, with whiffs of powdered coffee creamer. Quite floral and fruity. The fruity part are hints of fresh (thus not over-ripe) plums. The floral part is more about fruit trees in bloom rather than any kind of flowers. Elegant stuff.

Taste: Quite hot with ashes and an old oaky bitterness. Pencil shavings and some sort of hidden fruitiness. Lovely dusty nuttiness comes to the forefront too, making this a woody Whisky. Dark bitter chocolate and (ear) wax. If you can get past all the furniture and dark chocolate, there is some candied fruit behind all that.

Never owning a bottle myself I had some kind of luck having tried this one several times. Once from a freshly opened bottle, but also the last few drops from a bottle that had some time to let the Whisky breathe. I have to say that this particular Karuizawa is stellar when freshly opened, but with that the oxidation starts. Usually oxidation is not a bad this in Whisky, but sometimes oxidation changes or even ruins the Whisky. Here we have an example where oxidation really can change the Whisky. When this Karuizawa oxidizes the focus shifts more towards the (especially in the taste), whereas the freshly opened bottle is way more fruity. I don’t have a freshly opened bottle at hand, so this review is written tasting the last drops of the bottle, but I do remember the Whisky well when it was freshly opened. The score is for the freshly opened bottle. The last drops would score around 87 points so beware!

Points: 95