What Ledaig say:
Distilled in 1972 and filled into various types of cask, In 2001 Ian MacMillan, the master blender for Ledaig transferred what liquid was left into high-quality Gonzales Byass oloroso sherry casks to add a further layer of flavour.
After five years of close supervision, the casks were transferred back to Tobermory distillery. Ian has since claimed that this Ledaig is “the smokiest whisky of its age he has ever encountered.”
Released to commemorate the retirement of stills, and includes a handcrafted copper memento, crafted from the now retired stills, the last run of spirit has already been laid down into to first fill bourbon casks and in 2024 is able to be claimed by producing the copper token. One of only 500 bottles and bottled at 46.3% ABV and with a price tag of £3,500, available from The Whisky Shop (@TheWhiskyShop) this is not on for the faint of heart, or budget. .
What I say
It’s not every day you get to sample a 42yo whisky and I would be lying if I pretended I wasn’t excited to try this. I’m intrigued to see if something so old can keep such smoky flavours intact and to see how much complexity has remained.
The intensity of the smoke combines with freshly laid tar and hessian sacks. There’s a slight rubber note, which always reminds me of new plimsolls on old wooden assembly hall floors. The hemp takes you back to standing in front of the rope and the aroma left on your hands once you’ve attempted to climb it.
The sherry notes are there on the nose, with rich stewed stoned fruits, plums, nectarines and raisins with blackcurrant jam with a distinct sea spray saltiness and warm caramel which add a perfectly pitched sweet note, which tails off with fresh mint and eucalyptus.
Sweet, sticky jam notes, with blackcurrants, wild strawberries and dried rose buds. The caramel from the nose finds its way on to the palate, there’s malted milk biscuits smothered in honey, and fresh heather, keeping this rich and sweet, far sweeter then you might have expected.
The jammy notes keep on coming, blackberries, wild rhubarb and plums all combine, bringing the rich fruitiness from the sherry with a little ginger, cinnamon sticks, cloves and a touch of sweeter nutmeg.
Whilst your tongue is recovering from the enormity of the fruity and spice complexity, the smoke suddenly takes over, there’s a sweetness reminiscent of incense, before wood spice combine with damp ashes from beach fire, the saltiness perfectly entwined and more than a match for the woodier smoke note.
Long and rich, the fruits continue to roll around the palate whilst the smoke keeps on puffing away, there’s a hint of black pepper and strawberries with a balsamic reduction.
Deep oak and leather armchairs around the fireside bring a sophisticated complexity that is perfectly placed to balance out the big fruity flavours.
There’s a fleeting return of the eucalyptus found on the nose and some fresh sage, continuing the wood theme. The tannins from the oak combined with the sweet yet salty edge provided by the constant smokiness make this whisky well rounded, perfectly balanced, and quite frankly sublime.
Kirsty Clarke (@KirstyClake29)