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This is a review of a 6 (and a half) year old Ledaig malt from Signatory. It's the combination of two first fill bourbon barrels - NCF, natural colour and at 46% - about a third gone and open almost three weeks.
I'll start by explaining why I took the gamble on this: I've had a bottle of the 10 and was very impressed (probably in retrospect would have given it 88-89), I've also tried a Claxon's IB 9 year old at CS which was excellent and the 18 year old which was decent but not really my thing. Would happily give it another go though - it was towards the end of a festival so wont be too judgmental about it!
The cold is starting to set in here in England (very late in the year it must be said) and sitting here after a long day with a little peaty morsel is just what the doctor ordered - well they would, wouldn't they?
On the nose it's just that at first - peaty. Lots of very medicinal, TCP like peat aromas but with a definite oilyness and slight minerality like sea shells, that kind of thing. There is something very unique about Ledaig (or should I say Mull's?) peat. It has a kind of farmyard almost 'muck spreading' quality to it which sounds, well, not great, but is actually very pleasant to me and unique. It's fresh and clearly youthful but there is no unpleasant alcohol harshness here, none at all. There's also a definite lemony note, a little spicyness and a touch of vanilla. With time (about 30 mins or more) and no water the vanilla and spice smells really start to emerge and combine beautifully with the peat notes and make the most enticing licorice note.
Taste wise the peat is immediately noticeable but you get more of a charcoal, ash tray smokiness coming through. With time that develops into a very pleasing licorice note that is sweet and burnt all at the same time - there's also a bitter lemon flavour. It's, again, youthful but that being said is still best with no water, imo. There isn't loads going on, it's fairly one dimensional as you would expect, but what is there is quality. It's a sour and dry whisky although a slight creaminess comes in as it develops and the vanilla notes start to emerge more over time.
The finish is medium at best; there is some wood spice, some fresh and agreeable tannins, a slight burnt note that I can't quite put my finger on and with time the licorice note lingers more and more.
It probably goes without saying that this whisky needs time! I also think the fresh bourbon barrels add a lot of sweetness to what seems like quite a dry, 'mineralic' raw spirit. I like this and wanted to review it sooner but felt I needed to give this one a bit more . . . time. That has paid dividends as it is getting better and better. It surprises me just how enjoyable this is and whilst it's not that complex it does 'what it says on the tin' - that is, offers a very peaty, island style dram that has a very unique character. It was also very reasonable at just over £30.
My partner, who detests the smell of peat, thinks it smells of toilet cleaner so if you're a peat head draw your own conclusions here ha ha!
Dear Father Christmas, please may I have a watch for xmas . . . ;)