Review Stub: Ledaig 10

I have heard mixed things about the Ledaig 10, though the darts have mainly been directed at the older 43% ABV version. I had the pleasure of trying the 46.03% ABV (yes, 0.03% above 46%) just a couple nights ago with the strapping young lad who introduced me to the Laphroaig QC, and I have to say that there aren’t too many darts I’d direct at this version.

Nose: Light coal smoke, a waxy honey with some salt and pepper (in the vein of the Laddie 10, but with a little Caol Ila).

Palate: Briny, medicinal peat (something like you’d imagine a lemon oil polish might taste like), sweet honey and icing sugar, vanilla.

Finish: Medium. White pepper and sweet vanilla.

Grade: B

I liked this one. Though the polish note is slightly off, it adds an interesting complexity that makes me come back for more. In many ways, it’s like the Bowmore 10 Tempest lite; a bit more straightforward, less complex, but tasty.

Note: I do tend to refer to other drams when reviewing whiskies, but that’s not without good purpose. My hope is that it helps fellow enthusiasts pair future purchases to profiles that they may have previously enjoyed. It also helps me properly rank drams into their grade bins.

The Cherry Bomb: Glenfarclas 10yo `105`

After my let-down with Glenfarclas 15 at the bar, I decided to give them another go when the ‘105’ recently returned to the LCBO. I mean, I haven’t really been let down by a cask-strength to date, so why not try and extend the streak? I mean, I really did love the nose of the Glenfarclas 15. The mark was almost entirely based on that nose, truth be told.

Nose: Christmas cake and spice with sherry. Honey, toffee. Many of your sherry bomb characteristics (think Aberlour a’Bunadh) but this one is a bit more straight-forward and balanced. A bit of red cough syrup, but in the strangest pleasant way. And that’s saying something, as cherry cough syrup sends me running for the hills.

Palate: Rich, and sweet in a big way. Huge on the intro with the dark maraschino cherry chocolates. This flavour is the lead singer of this band. But this one’s no prima donna. Instead, this one shares the stage with every other flavour in an excellent balance. Coffee, raisins, and a bit of a mustiness. Honey on toast. Hints of smoke, but not your blackened, dark and stormy ‘burning fires of hell’ smoke like you’d get with a really strong Islay. Instead, it’s a quiet fire in a wood-stove where you’ve likely been baking. Add a dollop of water more than your usual teaspoon, and it’s a bowl of mixed nuts. Beautiful.

Finish: A flash of the cherry chocolates, quickly going tart into some of that cough-syrupyness. Hints of delicious Turkish delight and woody undertones. When the sweetness is all gone, it’s a drying pipe-tobacco finish—so mature and beautiful. It’s a very long, warming, perfect-for-winter finish.

Grade: A-

Didn’t think it’d happen, but I can officially say I’m in the Glenfarclas ‘105’ camp in the 105 vs. a’Bunadh sherry-bomb debate. While they’re similar enough in quality, there is something about the ‘105’ profile, and how it all comes together, that really wins me. Perhaps it’s the ‘cookie-like’ profile. It’s nice and baked, but a mix of savoury and sweet. Not your overly-sweet store-bought fluffy cake, but rather a soft cookie or a more dense coffee cake (on that note, it pairs really well with chewy white chocolate and craisin cookies!). In any case, I can see why maltmanics rave about Glenfarclas. Rest assured, I’m going to track down a bottle of the Glenfarclas 15 and give it it’s fair shake. The nose was spectacular, so I’m assuming I either over-watered it, or something else threw me off.

Peat in the Highlands: Ardmore Traditional Cask

Finally getting around to reviewing the Ardmore Traditional Cask. Like Laphroaig’s Quarter Cask, this one, too, is aged for a short period in traditional quarter casks. Like Laphroiag, it is a good’un, but not that good. For the price, it pretty much can’t be beat, though. It has taken me so long to write up a review because this bottle became my office bottle, and as I’m not in my office until the late dramming hours all too often, I rarely afford myself the chance to open the bottle. Each time I do, however, I am reminded about what a great bang-for-your-buck this really is. Given the data of 2 QC whiskies being so good, I’m guaranteed to try the next cost-effective QC whisky that makes it to our shores.

Nose: Sweet barley. Honeyed pears, and oak. Peat (of the Ardbeg variety). A bit salty too. Cinnamon hearts. Reminds me of that Simpson’s moment where Homer says “Look boy! I’m in Australia! Now I’m America. Australia! America!”. I find myself saying “I’m drinking a Glenfiddich! Now I’m drinking Auchentoshan! Glenfiddich! Auchentoshan! …Bruichladdich?”

Palate: Reasonably smooth for such youth. Oily. Sweet cinnamon red hots, baby. Fruit, sweetness, some cinnamon and pepper. It, again, reminds me of Auchentoshan, but not so bright and vibrant. The peat and rich Speyside characteristics take it down a few shades, and that’s alright!  It’s interesting to have a dessert whisky be peated so well. I was worried that a $44 peated whisky would turn out like Dun Bheagan’s 8yo Islay: fruit with peat sprinkles. No, this one is well married together. The peat is a compliment, not the goal itself.

Finish: Tart fruit and smoky peat. This is the end you’d expect, and love.

Grade: B-

I had this at a B upon opening, but it’s a tad rougher than my B should be. It’s by no means bad, however. A few years in the cask (get it up to 10yo and we’ll talk) would make the peat a little more “sexy” as I’ve heard others describe aged peat. Of course you’ll ask, “if the notes are so kind, why is the mark so poor”? Well, the notes are as kind as those of Highland Park 12, Oban 14, and others in it’s range. Nothing sticks out as being bad, but nothing makes me want to buy a case and sit on it with a sling-shot in fear that it’ll never come back. It’s just a good whisky, and in the end, for $44 in Ontario, that’s damn fine. We can’t all be drinking Uigeadail every week. If you’re a peat fan, this is a must-try. In fact, it’s a must-own.