...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Mathilda Malt: Ledaig 16 year old 1973 Gordon & MacPhail

My failures as a father are legion. Just ask my father, children, ex-wife, neighbors, random passersby. Actually don't ask them. Please.

But my daughter, Mathilda, already has a palate more sophisticated than mine when I was 25. And she is eight years old as of yesterday. Her birthday breakfast request? A scramble with black beans, zucchini and feta cheese, along with kombucha and Japanese senbei. Those are things I didn't eat, or know about, let alone request, until I was nearly twenty years older than her. She will seemingly try anything, and wants to know about every culture everywhere. While that is not 100% my doing, my influence has been enough to allow for one Father Flex today. 

I often celebrate her birthday with a bunch of Littlemill reviews, but since I'm nearing the end of my Littlemill sample supply, I will be fortifying this week's selection with potential gems from other distilleries.

The whisky anorak generation that preceded mine has waxed romantic about the first few vintages of Tobermory's peated Ledaig malt. Thanks to generous whisky friends, I've had a chance to try two 1972s and they were both wonderful pours indeed. Today's whisky is from a bottle split of a 1973 Ledaig that was distributed solely in America more than 30 years ago. Gordon & MacPhail tragically bottled it at 40%abv, as they did with hundreds of other Connoisseurs Choice single malts in their early years.

But still, it's 1973 Ledaig.

Distillery: Tobermory
Brand: Ledaig
Owner: Distell International Ltd.
Region: Isle of Mull
Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Range: Connoisseurs Choice
Age: at least 16 years old
Vintage: 1973
Maturation: "Oak Casks" 🤔
Alcohol by Volume: 40%
Chillfiltered? ???
e150a? ???
(from a bottle split)


Forget the abv, the intense, nuanced nose arrives gorgeously. A variety of phenols appear (barbecue, pine smoke, pipe smoke, antiseptic, and kiln), merging seamlessly with the fruit (mango, citron, baked apple). Maybe some fruity shisha too. The peat retreats to a secondary role, letting the fruit expand, offering notes reminiscent of old Laphroaig. It continues to roar after 90 minutes, focusing on the citron, mango, kiln, and naan fresh off the tandoor.

The palate has the nose's balance but comes in a bit light. Tropical fruit punch, salt, bitter herbs, lemon, and seaweed-y smoke sound as one. It gets sweeter with time, holding on to the bitterness, and gaining an antiseptic note.

The finish sticks around for a decent amount of time, offering the seaweed smoke, honey, tart lemons and kiln.


My Gourd, that nose is an All-Timer. I don't know how it was done, nor how that process was lost, nor if it can be replicated, but the fact that this sensory experience came from a max-diluted teenage whisky is staggering (if noses can stagger). The water shows its influence in the palate, though, limiting my superlatives here. Everything works in the mouth, but it's hushed and thinned. Despite that, I held onto this pour for nearly two hours, relishing the moment, knowing this experience may never be repeated.

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - I ain't looking
Rating - 91 (the nose, tho)