This 17 years old Ledaig has an ABV of 65.8%... excuse me? One can only conclude that the spirit went into the cask at a much higher ABV than the industry standard of 63.5%, no? Just to be sure, I’ll have some water on hand, otherwise this might prove quite painful.
Well, on the nose the high ABV is not hurting me at all. It certainly does not burn. I do get an immediate smoke development with marzipan, pine nuts and chorizo! I do believe this is the first time that I get chorizo in a whisky. Next some smoked ham, some bicycle tires and a hint of apricots (which is a good thing, as it’s a sherry cask after all!). A teaspoon of water turns it a lot sweeter and a touch herbal. For the nose, it’s a good thing.
It’s quite powerful on the palate though… just shy of burning, but doable without water – if only just. Again a lot of peat smoke, a bucketful of brackish water and some medicinal notes. If you want to discover anything sweet, you’ve got your work cut out for you. An apple, maybe? Not much else. With water, it turns a lot sweeter, but not much more fruity. This is now more like sugar instead of fruit. But it does make it quite more palatable.
The finish is long – no surprise – and smoky and finally shows some sweetness in the form of vanilla and apple juice. With water, the finish is very sweet, like smoky sugar water, should such a thing exist.
This was a sherry cask? Could have fooled me! But it’s very good despite the high ABV. A very interesting bottling by Rattray.