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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Single Malt Report: Ledaig 13 year old 2000 Gordon & MacPhail for Binny's

Ledaig won my heart when I first tried one of its older bottlings, five years ago. It was a peated whisky, yet so different than all the Islays. Very quirky, very weird. When I described it to people (including whisky fans), I witnessed a lot of scrunched up noses. It wasn't hip to like Ledaig five years ago. Now it's totally cool. Cask after cask of full strength young Ledaig has been winning over even the snootiest of whisky snoots. The sherry butts have drawn super duper reviews. And now young Ledaig costs as much as Kilchoman. I can't wait until Ledaig sucks again, so I can afford it. Maybe if I write three negative reviews about it this week, I can start the ball rolling on getting those prices down.

Gordon & MacPhail remains possibly the only major independent bottler that prices Ledaig reasonably. Meanwhile, Binny's exclusive casks are also often competitively priced. So when Binny's gets exclusive G&M casks and then puts them on sale, that's how a person can get a 13 year old single cask of Ledaig for $69.99. And that's probably the only way on this planet to do so right now.

Distillery: Tobermory
Brand: Ledaig
Region: Isle of Mull
Independent Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Age: September 2000 - July 2014
Maturation: ex-sherry cask (allegedly?)
Cask number: 69
Exclusively for: Binny's
Alcohol by Volume: 56.9%
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? No
Sample obtained in a swap with MAO (Maneschewitz ACE'd Octomore). Thank you!

The nose has a remarkable lack of ethyl heat. So there's no hiding the toasted seaweed and the mossy, earthy, grungy peat. Got some funky stank on it, like someone smoke-infused some Jamaican rum dunder. Smaller notes of Meyer lemons and peaches. The palate leads off with a pure earthy peppery peat. Then a slice of parmesan cheese and maybe some extra extra sharp white cheddar. Brown sugar. Again, no heat. With time it picks up more lime juice and mineral notes. There's even a clean barley note in there. The finish has a sharp peppery edge, the seaweedy peat and the super dry cheese. Very earthy, with a citrus sweetness.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
The nose is much calmer, quieter. Fruitier. Less smoke and peat. A hint of anise. The palate remains pretty sharp, peppery and mineral. It's a little sweeter. It finishes more acidic and fruity. Mild peat. Mild bitterness.

Damn it. It's great.

Trending more along the Islay-side of Ledaig, this whisky shows absolutely no hint of its cask. So if you're looking for another richly sherried Ledaig, this isn't it. One word of warning, water nearly kills the whole thing. This might have been a 90+ whisky had it been able to swim at all. It doesn't show a whole lot of complexity, but, man, does it hit the right peat spot.

MAO, the source of this sample, found a sizable butyric pukey note in the nose which he understandably didn't find very appealing, though he still gave this Ledaig a very good rating. While I didn't nose any baby barf, there was a hell of a stank floating about it. To me it was smoked dunder. Perhaps on another day, it could have smelled like a infant had vomited up last night's cigarettes, Smith & Cross and breastmilk. A 95-point nose if there ever was one.

Availability - Binny's only, though they're running short so you may have to get it at one of their brick-and-mortar stores
Pricing - $90, though sometimes it's on sale for $70
Rating - 89 (neat only!) (please also note my disgusting Ledaig bias)


  1. You and MAO have very tolerant noses and palates. Straight up puke and bad cheese to me but it has settled down since I purchased it though it is still noticeable. I thought it took water well and gets super cloudy besides. Quite fruity and somewhat coastal with the butyric acid it reminds me of Bruichladdich.

    With this and all the sulfured Springbank you enjoy makes this whisky review blog truly singular.

    And that very large sale that Binny's put on at the beginning of last year ended. They are now doing Whisky of the Week sales.

    1. Thanks! I did make sure to reference my disgusting Ledaig bias at the end. You're right about this whisky getting very cloudy when water's added. In fact all three of the Ledaigs I'm reviewing this week instantly went cloudy when diluted.