Also read LEDAIG 10 ANS
When it comes to peat, you know that peatdream is always there. And when it comes to LEDAIG...., yours truly is off with his van to taste it.
So when I heard that a new series from the TOBERMORY-LEDAIG distillery was going to be launched, I went straight to the Isle of Mull (west of Scotland) to taste the first LEDAIG SINCLAIR SERIES - Rioja Cask Finish.
As always, the arrival in front of the coloured houses of the island of Mull is quite obvious. And here, no fuss, in front of the landing stage...the distillery.
But first we have to meet this famous Sinclair ???
Who are we talking about ? Sinclair the French singer ? No, certainly not. Lord Brett Sinclair, hero of the series Amicalement vôtre ? No, it's not him. In fact, it's John Sinclair (not the "babacool" manager of the MC5 band from the 70s), the one who started it all on the island.
Indeed, it is this seaweed merchant that we are talking about. The man who one fine day in 1797 decided to create a brewery on the island (because at the beginning he was not allowed to create a distillery). But the man insisted and in 1798 he opened LEDAIG (what a great man).
So it is in his honour that 224 years after this beautiful idea, the TOBERMORY distillery has decided to pay tribute to him through a first distillate (of a hopefully long series).
To do so, Julieann Fernandez (master blender of the distillery but who also works for Bunnahbhain and Deanston ...what a great job -NDLR-) was inspired by an even older story than the one of the distillery, through the sinking of a Spanish galleon off the island 400 years ago. It is said that it was loaded with jewels but also with rioja casks that ended up on the rocks of the island (is it this story that inspired Compton Mackenzie when he wrote Whisky Galore...nobody knows -NDLR-).
So it was to a Spanish inspiration that they turned through an ageing in rioja casks from the north of Spain.
For this first Sinclair series, the distillery first chose a distillate that was peaty to perfection (30-40 ppm) and slipped into first fill bourbon casks before finishing and colouring it in Rioja casks.
The result is a whisky with a magnificent peach colour, almost pink.
When the nose plunges into the glass, there is no mistaking it....it is a ledaig with its thick and dense peaty smell with a straw-like odour as we like it.
However, as if it had been charged with the sun of the Spanish Mancha, it will give off great warmth and already has a strong spicy presence. The first nose is sweet as a candy.
The second passage releases peppery spices which bring fresh floral notes.
The third passage will be more on ripe peach then on red and candied fruits and on a return to heat.
I love slipping a Ledaig into my hand. Close your eyes and you are entering a secluded bothy on the island of mull where an old man is tending his sheep and stoking his fire with a peat loaf! LEDAIG !
The entry in mouth is creamy and thick.
However, the spices and the warmth of the pepper quickly come through. Then comes a sweet strawberry tagada.
After a little spicy return comes the slightly pungent winey note of the Rioja cask. The distillate becomes softer and even more mellow and honeyed. Just before swallowing it a hint of liquorice makes a brief appearance.
It has a rather pleasant woody finish with a background of red fruits and marine hints in the mouth. Later on the red fruits disappear and are replaced by wisps of Ledaig smoke! (I love it!)
Frankly, given the rather "modest" price (often less than 50 €) compared to the quality of this distillate, I say why deprive yourself! And especially if Julieann wants to pay tribute to Sinclair again, let her do it !
Ok I know you may know one of my slogans ? "IN LEDAIG WE TRUST".