Ledaig 1996 Olorso cask
It's tricky to write another Ledaig intro after recently reviewing the excellent release from Cadenheads here. Ledaig, or Tobermory, does not enjoy a high profile or aims to seek out the limelight. Instead it's much like its Deanston stable mate content to let the whisky do the talking. This means for enthusiasts exciting whiskies are appearing and still within the realms of affordability.
It is a distillery I've yet to visit. I've been scoring off the Scottish islands annually with Lewis and Harris booked for later this year. I expect thereafter it'll be Mull before I try and attempt another crossing to Arran - third time lucky? For those unaware at Tobermory distillery they produce 2 different single malt styles with the first 6 months given over to production of the unpeated spirit (Tobermory) and the remainder of the year to their peated (Ledaig) expression.
Confidence is a key thing in whisky which I've come to appreciate over the years. You realise when a distillery has the right team, attitude and form. Ledaig has a new found confidence about it, demonstrated by the releasing of new expressions - see the photograph above.
This includes this 20 year old example bottled at 46.3% and primarily aimed at the UK, selected foreign markets and travel retail. It features some of the first spirit from the stills when Tobermory started producing its peated whisky in 1996, which the marketeers are now referring to as a distinct Hebridean style. As always the whisky is natural colouring and un-chill filtered. This sample was kindly provided by Deanston distillery and I also have the 18 year old Oloroso finish Ledaig to review shortly, which will provide an interesting comparison.
Colour: a pale Highland toffee
Nose: familiar vegetative peat initially as expected but then it goes all fruit salad mad on the palate. Oranges, apples, pineapples especially and barley sweets, with some cranberries thrown in for good measure. White pepper, Highland heather and honey round off the Hebridean style.
Taste: more crispy fried bacon with an oily aspect as well. Followed by peated smoked barley that moves into Lapsang Souchong with ease. More vegetative notes and that dirty vanilla aspect I find so agreeable.
Overall: my opinion here is one of unison. The cask has worked with the spirit in harmony. It's punchy and strong at 46.3% than anticipated, shunning the sherry monster route thereby giving us more. It gives the Cadenhead 23 year old Ledaig a run for its money, in what is a close contest.