Last week the Malts Nuts gathered once again for our monthly malt meeting where we explore the depths of a single distillery and for this particular meeting we had the Isle of Mull in our malthairs (like crosshairs, but less snipery). Of course the only distillery on the Isle of Mull is Tobermory and if you’re wondering why there’s apparently two distilleries listed in the title allow me to explain.
All Ledaig (pronounced le-CHIG or LE-chig) is Tobermory, but not all Tobermory is Ledaig. During the last 3 weeks of their distilling season, before the “quite season”, Tobermory produces a peated distillate which they call Ledaig. The quite season is when the distillery shuts down production to thoroughly clean the stills, make repairs, paint, polish, etc. which is why it’s the perfect time to produce a peated whisky at a traditionally un-peated distillery. It gives the staff the time it needs to “decontaminate” the stills and ready them for the next season of un-peated distillation.
Being Malt Nuts we of course toasted our gracious host for letting a bunch of unruly whisky nerds invade his patio for a night of whisky exploration. It also means that all the bottles were blinded and broken down into the following flights.
- Single Cask Nation round (not blinded)
- Cask Strength Ledaig & Tobermory head to head
- Cask Strength Ledaig – ex-Bourbon hogsheads
- Cask Strength Ledaig – Refill bourbon hogsheads
- Cask Strength Ledaig – Refill sherry butts
And now… on to the Cask Strength Tobermory and Ledaig notes / reviews! (after the SCN bottles that is).
New Single Cask Nation Releases
Single Cask Nation MGP Rye – 8 years (60.9%)
- Nose: Grain, dark fruit, dilly spice, caramel, vanilla, oak and popcorn.
- Palate: Grain, dark fruit, dilly spice, caramel, oak, vanilla, toffee, light bit of anise.
- Finish: Dilly rye, dark sweets, vanilla, dark fruit and a touch soapy.
- Overall: B+ (87-89) When that 95/5 MGP rye is on, it is ON! This is an awesome bottle of MGP rye.
Single Cask Nation Catoctin Creek Rye – 3 years (62.4%)
- Nose: Young saw-dusty wood, butterscotch, Smarties, spice, dried apricots and watery caramel.
- Palate: Fruit, young saw-dusty wood, butterscotch, smarties, spice, dried apricots, caramel and vanilla.
- Finish: Fruit, wood (see above), butterscotch and Smarties.
- Overall: B (83-86) I could easily get into a glass of this. Not something that’d be a daily drinker for me, but I dig it.
Single Cask Nation Westland Single Malt – 3 years (62.6%)
- Nose: Banana taffy, hay, dried red fruit, spice and a touch of toasted grain.
- Palate: Banana taffy, hay, toasted grain, dried fruit, caramel and light notes of baking spice and cocoa.
- Finish: Cocoa, fruit and hay.
- Overall: B (83-86) Like the one above it this is a nice tasty whiskey that I could get into. A decent bottling for sure.
Single Cask Nation Amrut Single Malt – 5 years (62.8%)
- Nose: Caramel, toffee, butterscotch, malt, buttery fruit and a bit of cinnamon.
- Palate: Fruit, caramel, toffee, malt, spice and a touch of char and mint.
- Finish: Fruit, dark sweets, spice and mint.
- Overall: B+ (87-89) I like Amrut and this was no exception. A darn good single cask selection right here.
Round 1: Cask Strength Ledaig & Tobermory head to head
1A: Ledaig 17 years – Exclusive Malts (54.9%)
- Nose: Peat, iodine, band-aids, fruit, char and vanilla.
- Palate: Meaty, smoky bbq, fruit, char, vanilla and a soda-like sweetness.
- Finish: Meaty, peaty, sweet and fruity.
- Overall: B (83-86) Pretty good. I enjoyed the sweet and smoky combo.
1B: Tobermory 15 years – Blackadder (59.8%)
- Nose: Fruity, fresh apricot, malt, caramel, vanilla and a touch of darker earthy notes.
- Palate: Fruity, fresh apricot, malt, char, vanilla and a light spice.
- Finish: Fruit, malt, caramel and dried fruit.
- Overall: B (83-86) Decent whisky all around. Definitely something that would be fun to have a glass of now and then.
Round 2: Cask Strength Ledaig – ex-Bourbon Hogsheads
2A: Ledaig 10 years – Single Cask Nation (56.7%)
- Nose: Smoke, smoked meat, fruit and vanilla salt water taffy.
- Palate: Smoke, citrus candy, citric acid and vanilla salt water taffy.
- Finish: Smoke, candy sweetness, fruit, beef jerky and saline.
- Overall: C+ (77-79) / B- (80-82) Tasted and smelled incredibly young. Was shocked to find out it’s a 10 year.
2B: Ledaig 9 years – Single Malt Whisky Society 42.16 (59.6%)
- Nose: Vanilla frosting, saline and red fruit.
- Palate: Touch peat, vanilla, saline, 7-UP like citrus and acidic fruit.
- Finish: Smoke, fruit, saline and seaweed.
- Overall: C+ (77-79) / B- (80-82) Had the same feelings about this one as the one before it. Just didn’t hit the spot for me.
2C: Ledaig 13 years – Gordon & Macphail (56.9%)
- Nose: Butterscotch foot (sweet & earthy), malt, caramel, fruit, touch saline and savor spice.
- Palate: Peat, feet and malty sweet. Additional notes of caramel, savory spices and herbal licorice.
- Finish: Dirty caramel, toffee and herbal.
- Overall: B- (80-82) / B (83-86) While I can’t say I loved this whisky I can say that it was the most interesting whisky of the night. So many weird an interesting characteristics in it that I kept coming back to it over and over.
Round 3: Cask Strength Ledaig – Refill Bourbon Hogshead
3A: Caol Ila 7 years – Single Cask Nation (57.8%)
- Nose: Caramel, butterscotch, malt, fruit, Necco wafers, dried fruit, spice, smoke and light citrus.
- Palate: Malt, char, dark sweets, apples, smoke and a light spice and bit of acidic fruit.
- Finish: Smoky, meaty, malty, sweet and salty.
- Overall: B (83-86) / B+ (87-89) It says ‘Undisclosed’, but we have a strong inkling where it came from and Barry threw this one in to see what happened for that reason. This was hands down my favorite whisky of the night and stood out like a sore thumb. It was the only one that I ever had it at a B+, but for reasons listed at the end of this event recounting I wavered and gave it a B, but then went back up to a B+, but then back to a B… it’ll all make sense when you get to the end of the post.
3B: Ledaig 8 years – Hepburn’s Choice (60.7%)
- Nose: Malt, fruit, peat, salt, char, citrus, smoke and… something. A haunted unconnected something.
- Palate: Smoke, malt, fruit, salt, leather, pepper and light bits of apricot and cotton balls.
- Finish: Canadian mints, pepper and Pepto-Bismol.
- Overall: B- (80-82) / B (83-86) This one was also weird and funky. I enjoyed its funky character almost as much as I did 2C’s.
3C: Ledaig 8 years – Exclusive Malts (56.7%)
- Nose: Thin and light -> Vanilla, malt, minerally herbal and sweet smoke.
- Palate: Hot and harsh -> Malt, mineral water, vanilla, smoke and a spirity clay-like flavor that reminded me of mezcal.
- Finish: Vanilla, malt, minerals, spirity and smoky.
- Overall: C- (70-72) / C (73-76) I had a difficult time believing that this wasn’t new make. I thought for sure that Barry had pulled one over on us, got the guys at Tobermory to send him some Ledaig new make and threw it into the tasting.
3D: Ledaig 8 years – Kintra Whisky (51.7%)
- Nose: Vanilla heavy new-maky quality, smoke, grain, citric acid and muted fruit.
- Palate: Vanilla heavy new-maky quality, smoke, grain, citric acid and muted fruit.
- Finish: Peat, new make and smoke
- Overall: C (73-76) / C+ (77-79) Kinda “meh”. Not really “flawed”, but tasted on the young side and didn’t really get me excited.
Round 4: Cask Strength Ledaig – Refill Sherry Butts
4A: Ledaig 7 years – Dram Collection (60.6%)
- Nose: Smoky jerky, malt, vanilla, spice, toasted bread, candy and ashy vanilla.
- Palate: Peat, malt, fruit, alkaline, acidic fruit and citrus peels.
- Finish: Peat, vanilla, fruit and citric acid.
- Overall: C (73-76) / C+ (77-79) Like the last few this one also tasted really young.
4B: Ledaig 6 years – Archives (50.5%)
- Nose: Fruit, vanilla, smoke, malt, ash, spice and a touch of dark sweets.
- Palate: Fruit, ash, vanilla, smoke, malt, spice and a touch of dark sweets and cocoa.
- Finish: Ash, peat, fruit and cocoa
- Overall: C+ (77-79) This one ended up being my whisky and so I poured myself a glass of it to sip on while writing these up and it’s an ashy little bugger. I don’t hate it, but I’m not a fan of it either. Oh well, you can’t always pick a winner 🙂
You might notice something a bit different about the scores above. The SCN and round 1 notes are the typical letter based scores I use at tastings, but rounds 2-4 I gave a double scores to. The reason for that is where I was sitting there was some, lets call it interference, happing with my olfactory.
I was having troubles picking up the more delicate and nuanced notes and in my notebook I was adding, removing and scribbling out scores as I kept revisiting whiskies to try and overcome the sensory deadening effect of rapidly oxidizing desiccated plant matter (cigars). Regardless I had a great time as always and am already excited for the next event and the next and the next and the next…
Till next time, cheers!