Today we’re looking at two indie releases from an underrated highland distillery…
Thompson Brothers Ledaig 1995 26yo
First up today we have a 26yo unpeated Ledaig. It’s classified as unpeated Ledaig and not Tobermory because the distillation process (cut points, fermentation times, etc) was the same as the distillery would use for Ledaig, just without the peating of the barley. The whisky spent its life in a refill bourbon hogshead.
Initially we’re getting lots of pineapple, vanilla sponge, lemon peel and tangerine. There’s a nice rounded character, showing off the spirit and cask well. It’s got an old, worn out wood aroma, slight mustiness but this is brightened by some citrus coming through. As expected there’s no smoke from this, instead we’re getting an oiliness, freshly turned earth and a little sea salt. Lovely.
The palate opens with more tropical fruits, mango pudding, some vanilla fondant and a nice hint of mellow oak backed up with a warming, peppery finish. The mouthfeel follows suit with the oily, viscous texture bringing a hint of ginger and white pepper spice. It’s a little drier than we’d like, but going back we’re getting some peach and green apple, with a hint of candlewax. The finish holds for a good length and the alcohol is well balanced making this dangerously drinkable.
Nose (with water)
We’re now getting more herbal aromas, mainly thyme sprigs and freshly cut grass. We’re also getting some old leather, dusty books and apple peel. It’s light and refreshing, but has a nice cocktail of fruity aromas making it one to nose over and over.
Palate (with water)
Dehydrated apple chips, peach and nectarine. It maintains the mouth coating oiliness whilst loosing some of the spicy pepperiness it had before. It’s warming with a little white wine acidity and melon. The finish still has a good length but we feel it’s been shortened somewhat with the additional water.
Unpeated Ledaig isn’t something we’ve had much experience with, but we’d happily explore further after trying this dram. Age doesn’t always matter with whisky, but in this case it’s been left long enough to give it a good amount of cask influence while still maintaining the integrity of the spirit. The natural strength of 45% had us a little worried initially, but it’s still got a good oily, mouth coating texture and maintains a good length finish. We do think it is a little drying on the palate and is missing a little depth. However, saying that, it’s great quality whisky, has lots of complexity, is well balanced, and is at a good price to boot.
Lady of the Glen Ledaig 10yo cask #7006
This particular release had a a finishing period in a refill Ex-Tawny Port Barrique. There was an outturn of 339 bottles.
An instant whiff of smoke as it was poured into the glass, followed by an intense meatiness when nosing it for the first time. It’s got an artificial beef aroma, similar to an oxo cube or packet of monster munch snacks. It’s got a lot of rosemary and thyme coming through too, it’s like a full Sunday roast in a glass. Going back (and pushing past the meatiness), we’re getting some red currants, treacle syrup and a little strawberry puree. The smoke blends in with the meaty, herbal aromas quite nicely.
We’re getting a lot more of the smoke on the palate, it’s intense, heavy and earthy. There’s a saltiness here, alongside some sweeter fruits like strawberry, raspberry and red grapes. The finish has an okay length, and ends sweeter than we expected. It’s like an intensely smoked strawberry daiquiri cocktail. The mouthfeel is good, it’s got a nice viscous texture, but is slightly astringent with a drying spice and burnt firewood. Going back after some air we can get a little dark chocolate, cinnamon bark, dry crumbly soil and clove. The alcohol is present but not overpowering, it leaves a pleasant warmth. Weirdly after a little while and a mouthful of water, we’re left with a smokey raw potato flavour in our mouth.. we’ve never experienced that before.
Nose (with water)
We’re not finding too many differences with water, it’s maintaining a meatiness, perhaps cured ham instead of beef this time. There’s still a good amount of smoke, a touch of the red fruit and the alcohol has receded somewhat.
Palate (with water)
Water reduces some of the intense meaty flavours, bringing out the strawberries, but also slightly ruining the mouthfeel. It feels a little disjointed now, we’ve lost some of the oiliness we enjoyed before. It’s sweeter than before, less of a warming alcohol feeling, but maintaining the drying oak and earthy smoke.
A big, powerful dram that shows the heavy, meaty Ledaig spirit well, adding some sweeter, fruitier flavours from the tawny port cask. We appreciate the use of refill port, as we think a first fill cask would have really overpowered the spirit. It’s a good dram, we’d happily go for another, but maybe spread them out across a few weeks as we could only have one of these a night. Avoid water, it impacts the dram in a negative way for us.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
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