...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Ledaig 19 year old Marsala Cask Finish

Though missing a standard official 18 year old, Ledaig has rolled out twelve small batch releases in four years in the 18-21 year old age range. I took part in a bottle split of three of the 19 year old releases. On Monday I reviewed the Oloroso cask finish, and on Friday I'll review the Pedro Ximenez cask finish. I bring thee the Marsala cask finish today.

That "Marsala" part does not inspire optimism. In my humble opinion, Ardbeg shit the bed with their Marsala cask Galileo release in 2012 and haven't successfully washed the stain out since. While I don't have an issue with wine casks in general, the combination of sweet wine and peat and a brief finish indeed leaves me with a weird taste in my mouth. From what I've read today's whisky spent less than a year in these casks. How will that work with Ledaig's fierce spirit?

Distillery: Tobermory
Brand: Ledaig
Owner: Distell International Ltd.
Region: Isle of Mull
Age: minimum 19 years
Maturation: bourbon casks for 19 years, Marsala casks for ? months
Outturn: ????
Alcohol by Volume: 51%
Chillfiltered? No
Colorant Added? No

The nose has more classic peat than that of the Oloroso cask release. Salty seaweed. A boat dock in the summer heat. Hint of apple. But that's it. This is the flattest of the three neat noses. The palate leads with a baking spice note that ramps up with time. Make that a pumpkin spice note. It's hot and salty, though palatable. Tangy and sweet peat. Hint of metal. It gets much sweeter with time. It finishes warm, tangy and peppery, with some cigarettes and metal.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or ⅔ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
A messy nose. Butter, butterscotch, brine, wood smoke and flat peat. The palate's also out of whack. Metal, cinnamon candy, mixed nuts. Very burnt and bitter. The woody burnt bitterness takes over the finish.

40%abv worked for the Oloroso expression so...

DILUTED TO ~40%abv, or 1⅔ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Citrus peel, brown sugar and pickle brine(!) enter the nose, and somehow work together. The palate softens up. It's less bitter, burnt and metallic. There's a neatness to the peatness, sweetness, tanginess and nuttiness. The finish matches the palate.

Huh, 40%abv works best for the nose. The palate is fine at 51%abv and 40%abv, but not fine at 46%abv. It's not winey, but there does seem to be something quirky going on with the casks. It's also not really Ledaig-ish.

Since this seems to be a face-off at 40%abv, I'd take the Oloroso version over this one. But this Marsala cask finish is no FAIL. It's more of a WHY? Why the Marsala finish? Why not an 18 year old bourbon cask Ledaig at cask strength? Why do I bother to ask?

Availability - A couple dozen retailers on the Western Hemisphere
Pricing - $150-$190 (ex-VAT)
Rating - 81 (diluted only, but careful with the water!)

No comments:

Post a Comment