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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Ledaig 20 year old 1997 Alexander Murray & Company

Alexander Murray & Company's bottlings flooded the California whisky retail scene almost overnight in 2015, appearing in beloved specialty retailers as well as Costco. The distillery variety was impressive, the the 40%abvs were not. A year later a pair of cask strength bottlings (Dalmore and Highland Park) appeared but I wasn't particularly thrilled with either. Then I moved out to Ohio — whose liquor control department doesn't believe in independent bottlings — and promptly forgot about Alexander Murray. At some point the company reinvigorated their brand and began offering additional cask strength single malts from Laphroaig, Bunnahabhain and this Ledaig. Let's see if this is a step up from that Highland Park.

Distillery: Tobermory
Brand: Ledaig
Owner: Distell International Ltd.
Region: Isle of Mull
Independent Bottler: Alexander Murray & Company
Age: minimum 20 years (distilled 1997)
Maturation: "multiple refill Bourbon barrels" per the official site
Outturn: ???
Alcohol by Volume: 50%
Chillfiltered? ???
Colorant added? ???
(from a bottle split)

The nose begins very sugary, think circus peanuts and orange candy. Blue scented marker (a fave) and roasted corn. The peat reads toasted as opposed to outright smoke. The palate's sweetness is milder than the nose led on but the peat is heavier, starting off as dark industrial smoke, then tilting towards moss. Lots of salt in the foreground, though less than Monday's monster. Some mellow tropical fruit punch hints in the background. It finishes with tart and tangy fruit, ocean-y peat and a hint of tobacco.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or ½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Just this little bit of water does indeed bring change. Now the nose shows manure, black walnuts and chalk dust up front, grilled pear with fruity cinnamon in the back. The palate gets fruitier: apples and pears, as well as a lemony smoke. Then plenty of salt and a hint of those black walnuts. The finish mirrors the palate but with a little more herbal bitterness.

A few steps up, in fact! This is a proper peated drink, to my palate, that even lets some fruits sneak through. Because I'm a sucker for black walnuts (except for that damned tree in my backyard), I may have enjoyed the diluted version even more. As this was a mix of "multiple" casks, I think the blending did it a lot of favors, sanding down raggedy edges and providing structure, while also probably salvaging at least one very low ABV cask. The price was a bit steep and the whisky has sold out, so once again, you're welcome.

Availability - Sold out, I think
Pricing - $170-$190
Rating - 87