Friday, January 31, 2014

Experimental Whisky: Bunnahahbain 12 Year/Ledaig 10 Year Blend

After trying both Bunnahabhain 12 Year and Ledaig 10 Year, I was very curious to see how they would work together. Bunnahabhain has rich sherry and some maritime influence, while Ledaig is robustly peaty with strong bourbon barrel notes. That sounded like an attractive combination.

Bunnahabhain 12 Year/Ledaig 10 Year 1:1 Blend

Nose: Rich, earthy peat undergirded by dry sherry and malt, a bit farmy and meaty, slightly floral, cacao nibs, salty/maritime, seaweed. After adding a few drops of water, it becomes maltier with less aggressive (and more integrated) peat and very little sherry, big salted caramels come out, barely perceptible oak, a bit of vanilla.

Taste: mildly sweet and salty malt/bourbon barrel notes up front, earthy peat and dank sherry come in behind, then a slightly sharp oak note comes in near the back, with some new make vegetal notes drifting throughout. After dilution, there are strong salted caramel notes up front, flowing into more vegetal peat notes, less oak, sherry undertones (more with time), and floral overtones.

Finish: rich bourbon barrel notes (caramel, vanilla, oak) and peat residue

While this is pretty good and almost what I was aiming for, I'm hampered by only having access to the finished, blended products, rather than a warehouse full of single casks to work with. To begin with, it'd be great to amp up the sherried Bunnahabhain component. It'd also be nice to have some older Ledaig to work with, to give the peat more dimensions.

Ultimately I'd be really happy if Burn Stewart decided to put out some blended malts alongside Black Bottle, their bread & butter blended whisky. The common island character of their malts from Bunnahabhain and Tobermory give them a core to build around, while each could bring its own unique flavors to a blended malt. The closest thing on the market right now is actually Bunnahabhain's Toiteach, which combines younger peated whisky with older sherry casks. But Bunnahabhain and Ledaig's peat have different characteristics, so it'd be fascinating to see how they played together. This is definitely a concept I'll be continuing to pursue, because I think the results could be very, very tasty.

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