Drink Magazine

Malt Nuts: Ledaig Tasting Part 2

By Josh Peters @TheWhiskeyJug

Malt Nuts Ledaig Tasting Part 2 - 1

On the eve of its closing the Malt Nuts rallied to eat, drink and conquer Ledaig… again. This time we focused on older expressions and sherried expressions of Ledaig this evening. We’d already tasted a bunch of young cask strength Tobermory and Ledaig so we had to move it up a notch.

We also thought that now was the time to strike to get these older expressions for “cheap”. With the distillery closing for two years to do extensive renovations, including all new stills, the prices might jump and make a future meeting less… fulfilling.

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For those who aren’t aware, Tobermory makes both an unpeated malt (Tobermory) and a peated malt (Ledaig). It’s also the only distillery on the Isle of Mull, but the whisky they make doesn’t stay there for long.

After being distilled on Mull the whisky gets put into tankers and shipped to Deanston (also owned by Burn Stewart Distillers) to get put into casks. Those casks are then shipped to Bunnahabhain (again, owned by Burn Stewart) where it’s aged. Though I believe some of the Ledaig gets aged there on Mull as you can see in the history below.

Tobermory Distillery (Ledaig) History via Malt Madness

  • 1798 – Found by John Sinclair as the Ledaig distillery (pre Excise Act – 1823)
  • 1837 – Closed
  • 1878 – Reopened as Tobermory
  • 1890 – Bought by John Hopkins & Co
  • 1916 – Bought by DCL
  • 1930 – Closed again and turned into a power station
  • 1940 – Turned into a canteen for soldiers during WW2
  • 1972 – Reopened as Ledaig Distillery Ltd
  • 1975 – Filed for bankruptcy and closed again
  • 1978 – Bought by Kirkleavington Property Co and re-opened as Tobermory
  • 1978 – Some buildings turned into flats and others rented out for cheese storage
  • 1982 – Closed again
  • 1989 – Purchased and re-opened by Burn Stewart Distillers
  • 2007 – Old tun room converted into a warehouse for Ledaig
  • 2008 – Ledaig 15 (OB) is introduced
  • 2013 – Temporarily halted production due to draught
  • 2017 – Closed again for upgrades on March 31st
  • 2019 – Open again?

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Quite the tumultuous history for this little distillery. It’s been closed about as much as its been open; it’s a wonder it’s even around today. Though the Malt Nuts are glad it is, otherwise we couldn’t have gathered at our gracious host’s place to enjoy each other’s company and these interesting malts. As usual it was all blinded, but here’s how they were grouped by our illustrious, and deeply patient, leader.

Malt Nuts Ledaig Tasting Part 2 Rounds

  1. Ledaig distilled on 04/06/09
  2. Ledaig 10 Years OB
  3. Ledaig Cask Strength Distilled 11/08/05
  4. Ledaig Cask Strength
  5. Ledaig Cask Strength (young)

And here we go!

Ledaig distilled on 04/06/09

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1A: Signatory Ledaig 7 years (09-16): 46% – Hogshead

  • Nose: Peat, honey, orchard fruit, waxy licorice, cinnamon.
  • Palate: Peat, wax, honey, orchard fruit, anise, malty sweetness, ash.
  • Finish: Long -> Peat, honey, licorice, anise, char.
  • Overall: B (83-86) Decent, but uninspiring. Not super complex, but definitely drinkable.

1B: The Ultimate Ledaig 7 years (09-16): 46% – Hogshead

  • Nose: Orchard fruit, honey, vanilla, wax, citrus, peat and a wee bit of spirit.
  • Palate: Waxy fruit, peat, honey, spirit, citrus, anise, ash.
  • Finish: Long -> Waxy fruit, peat, anise, char.
  • Overall: B (83-86) A touch sweeter than 1A, but not by much.

1C: The Ultimate Ledaig 7 years (09-16): 60.1% – Hogshead

  • Nose: Orchard fruit, wax, ash, honey, citrus, peat.
  • Palate: Waxy fruit, peat, honey, citrus, anise, oily spice.
  • Finish: Long -> Waxy, fruit, peat, anise, ash.
  • Overall: B (83-86) Finding out these were al 7 years, distilled on the same day and bottled relatively close to each other was no surprise. They were all very similar and even after sitting out through the night they didn’t open much except to get a bit ashier.

Ledaig 10 Years OB

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2A: Ledaig 10 years (Current): 46.3%

  • Nose: Rich orchard fruit, Twizzlers, spice, smoke, caramel, malty sweet.
  • Palate: Rich fruit, spice, smoke, caramel, Twizzlers, cinnamon oil.
  • Finish: Long -> Fruit, spice, cinnamon oil, wax and smoke.
  • Overall: B (83-86) Pretty good, I’m enjoying what’s going on here. Not enough to give it a B+, but nearly… it’s like an 86.9

2B: NDP Ledaig 10 years (old): 43%

  • Nose: Fruit, smoke, wax, ash, spirit, citrus, Twizzlers.
  • Palate: Fruit, smoke, wax, ash, spirity vanilla, citrus, Twizzlers, soap.
  • Finish: Long -> fruit, wax, ash, soap.
  • Overall: B- (80-82) Closer to the first round, but ashier and soapier… I really dislike soap notes in whisk(e)y.

Ledaig Cask Strength Distilled 11/08/05

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3A: Exclusive Malts Ledaig 10 years (05-15): 56.6% – Hogshead

  • Nose: Honey, butterscotch, peat, ash, Twizzlers.
  • Palate: Smoke, citrus, toffee, ash, candy, malt, char, fruit and a touch of nuts.
  • Finish: Long -> Fruit, citrus, smoke, ash, candy.
  • Overall: B+ (87-89) Darn good… really darn good.

3B: Elements of Islay (Ardbeg?) NAS: 59.3%

  • Nose: Honey, fruit, malt, caramel, nuts, cinnamon oil.
  • Palate: Honey, fruit, malt, nuts, citrus oil, cinnamon sticks, Twizzlers and wax.
  • Finish: Long -> Citric acid, honey, fruit, malt, soap.
  • Overall: B (83-86) Sharp and acidic with lots of tasty and aromatic qualities, but it’s not super complex or dynamic in the overall delivery.

3C: Exclusive Malts Ledaig 8 years (05-14): 56.7%

  • Nose: Vanilla, peat, malt, honied nuts, toffee, Twizzlers, citrus candy, a quick blip of spirit.
  • Palate: Peat, cinnamon, malt, honey, melon, toffee, candy, ash.
  • Finish: Long -> Peat, cinnamon, malt, honey, fruit.
  • Overall: B (83-86) On the higher end of the B scale for sure, this whisky was tasty and I was hoping it would open by the end of the night to get more depth but it just didn’t. Maybe with a bit more time it will.

Ledaig Cask Strength

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4A: Dram Collection Ledaig 17 years (97-15): 50.9% – Hogshead

  • Nose: Peat, brown sugar, honied fruit, toffee, citrus, nuts, nutmeg and fruit.
  • Palate: Peat, cinnamon, soap, caramel, vanilla, citric acid, sulfur.
  • Finish: Long -> Soap, peat, ash, malt, caramel.
  • Overall: B (83-86) This is a weirdly spicy and slightly confusing dram… interesting though. It turned out to be mine so I’ll get to see if it opens and becomes any better, or more interesting, in a couple months.

4B: Exclusive Casks Ledaig 18 years (97-15): 50.2% – ex-Sherry

  • Nose: Brown sugar, peat, spice, mint, candy and malt.
  • Palate: Brown sugar, dark fruit, spearmint, wax, oil, nuts and butterscotch.
  • Finish: Medium -> Brown sugar, dark fruit, caramel, wax.
  • Overall: B+ (87-89) This has a nice peat n’ sweet combo going on. Completely enjoying what’s happening in this glass.

4C: Signatory Ledaig 9 years (05-15): 56% – ex-Sherry

  • Nose: Dark fruit, sherry, brown sugar, peat, mint, graham and candy sweetness.
  • Palate: Sherry sweetness, brown sugar, spice, graham, oil, candied nuts, honey.
  • Finish: Long -> Dark fruit, sweetness, touch of Canadian mints.
  • Overall: B+ (87-89) Enjoyed this one a lot. Even now I’m considering an A- because of how nicely done that peat n’ sweet combo was.

Ledaig Cask Strength (young)

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5A: First Cask Ledaig 7 years (08-15): 60.7% – Refill Sherry Butt

  • Nose: Big dollop of fruit, honey, peat, wax, graham, cinnamon oil, wax.
  • Palate: Fruit, wax, honey, peat, graham, marshmallow, anise.
  • Finish: Long -> Fruit, spice, honey, graham.
  • Overall: A- (90-92) Woah… the 7 years old was my favorite of the night! This thing was awesome… just awesome.

5B: Pearls Of Scotland Ledaig 8 years (08-16): 57.4%

  • Nose: Marshmallow, wax, graham, oil nuts, honey candy, toffee.
  • Palate: Peat, dark sweets, wax, graham, honey, toffee, malt.
  • Finish: Long -> Peat, dark sweets, fruit, graham.
  • Overall: B+ (87-89) Lovely whisky with far more depth than I would have imagined from its age.

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And there it is: The Malt Nuts Ledaig Tasting Part 2. A huge thanks to Barry for organizing and putting up with us and our shenanigans. It was a great night and a fitting send off to a distillery that won’t be operational for at least another 2 years.

Till next time, cheers!

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Malt Nuts: Ledaig Tasting Part
Malt Nuts: Ledaig Tasting Part
Malt Nuts: Ledaig Tasting Part
Malt Nuts: Ledaig Tasting Part
Malt Nuts: Ledaig Tasting Part
Malt Nuts: Ledaig Tasting Part
Malt Nuts: Ledaig Tasting Part
Malt Nuts: Ledaig Tasting Part

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