...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Ledaig 13 year old 2005 Single Cask Nation, cask 900165

Single Cask Nation hit the big time last year as round after round of their single casks appeared then disappeared at many popular whisky retailers. The first of these releases I'll review is also the third 13-year-old Ledaig of this week.

This whisky is part of the ever expanding 900000 series of 2005 Ledaig casks that found their way to a number of independent bottlers. The cask numbers started with a pair of Berry Bros releases (900008 and 900012), then bounced around to a few random indies, then to Sansibar for several casks, then stayed with Signatory for 16 consecutive casks and then hopped over to Elixir Distillers. This SCN cask number (900165) sits in the middle of the Elixirs. Most, if not all, of the 900000s are sherry casks and many have very good reputations, especially the Siggies. Did the distillery sell or trade off this massive parcel? If so, I hope they held onto a few for official releases.

Cask 900165 is a second fill sherry butt, but the whisky is very dark, the reddest of this week's Ledaigs. I've a had few recent "refill" casks that were outrageously sherried, leaving me wondering if they were all re-seasoned and/or recharred.

This 13-year-old hit the market at $140, a price point that disincentivized me from getting a bottle. It didn't stop other folks, so I went in on a bottle split and set my expectations high.

Distillery: Tobermory
Brand: Ledaig
Owner: Distell International Ltd.
Region: Isle of Mull
Age: 13 years (Oct 2005 - March 2019)
Maturation: Second fill sherry butt
Cask: 900165
Outturn: 575 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 57.1%
Chillfiltered? No
Colorant Added? No
(from a bottle split)

The nose is......yep. Need more than that? A muscular herbal peat meets moderate nutty sherry in perfect balance. There's rotting kelp, charred veg, almond extract, pound cake, one cherry lollipop and a squeeze of lemon. The palate matches the nose very well, with a lovely nuttiness and dark chocolate pairing with salty seaweed peat. Mild sweetness, a little bit of citrus and big herbal bitterness. It finishes with toasted seaweed, sooty smoke, almonds, bright bitterness and a hint of sweetness.

It pains me to reduce this. But for science:

DILUTED TO ~46.3%abv, or 1⅓ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose has cotton candy(?!), tar, old rye spiciness, cherry shisha and baked pears. The palate doesn't have the nose's candy shop, rather it's an intensely bitter herbal thing with some sweet white fruits providing some balance. Plenty of tar as well. White fruits, bitter herbs and tar in the finish.

This excellent whisky from the Single Cask Nation crew leveled the other two Ledaigs in the big matchup. It was all over in the opening moments. The cask's weight and the spirit's intensity stay well-balanced (and delicious) throughout, something I don't find that often with sherry + peat. I have nothing but more hyperbole to spill about this. Expectations surpassed.

Availability - Sold out, or almost thus
Pricing - $140
Rating - 90