Whisky to Mull Over
A Seaside Single Cask Bottling from Ledaig
So far we’ve managed to review whisky from several different regions of Scotland in addition to single cask bottlings from different independent bottlers. This week we’ll be focusing on another independent bottler release, this time from a distillery with a character that we haven’t yet discussed. Our review takes us to the island of Mull off the west coast of the Highlands. We will explore a full powered expression of whisky with a strong maritime ethos.
Like the other islands in the Hebrides group of western Scotland, Mull has a long history of whisky production concentrated in a single distillery. Tobermory, currently the only distillery on the island, was founded as the Ledaig distillery in 1798. Following a familiar narrative for our regular readers, the distillery changed hands and was closed and reopened several times. Currently Tobermory produces an unpeated single malt that is marketed in several different expressions and is also used in blends. In addition Tobermory proces a peated single malt under the Ledaig name, harkening to the origins of the distillery.
Last week we reviewed limited edition bottling from Benromach. We noted how the distillery had been purchased by Gordon & MacPhail. While the company has been producing Benromach for over 20 years, Gordon & MacPhail has been in the business of independent bottling for over a century. For half of that time, the company has marketed a number of bottlings under the Connoisseur's Choice label.
Gordon and MacPhail Ledaig
Along with flagship ten year old bottlings, Tobermory has released several limited edition expressions finished in all manner of casks and age ranges. Regardless of the peat content, Tobermory whisky has a very maritime character. Similar to other Hebridean island whiskies, such as Talisker, the flavor profile is often dominated by seaside influences. We’re interested to see how the casks chosen by Gordon & MacPhail’s compares to the Ledaig house style. This particular bottling is 16 years old and has been aged in ex-Bourbon hogsheads.
On the Eyes: The Ledaig is pale straw color with long lasting legs and an overall viscous feel in the glass. The light color and thicker texture seem in opposition to one another.
On the Nose: The nose has elements of a cool beach after a rainstorm. Underneath the salt and wood are aromas of fresh cut cured meats and and cinnamon.
To the Taste: The initial flavor is a mix of cereal grain and black pepper. After the pepper wave we tasted a combination of wood grain and peat smoke.
And the Finish: The finish was very complex, with the peat smoke fading into a mix of vanilla, sea salt, and well charred meat.
Overall, the Gordon & MacPhail’s 2015 Ledaig was both reminiscent of the Tobermory Ledaig house style as well as young expressions from other island distilleries. The initial aromas and flavors reminded us of a young peated Islay whiskey, brash with sea salt and peat yet not without an underlying sweetness. The finish was more reminiscent of an older Highland whisky, full of Bourbon elements and smoke. Overall this bottle showcases the skill and range that an independent bottler can achieve. Although it might be difficult to find this exact bottle, we were able to find Gordon & MacPhail bottles at our local retailer and we encourage you to try one to see how it compares to the whisky you know from a particular distiller.