Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Whisky Review: Blackadder Ledaig 6 Year 2005/2012

Ledaig doesn't get a lot of love. The heavily peated malt from Tobermory, the Isle of Mull's single distillery, it has only one official bottling, a 10 Year that I quite like. Even independent bottlers don't seem to get casks of Ledaig too often, so options are thin here in the States.

So when Michael Kravitz offered me a sample of a very young, sherried Ledaig, I jumped at the opportunity. Then he dropped a review, which was, to put it mildly, less than flattering. It sounded like a hot mess, so I was a bit scared to try it, but my curiosity won out in the end.

This whisky is bottled at a volcanic 64% ABV after maturing briefly in a sherry cask from September 14, 2005 - July 2012, without chill filtration or color.

© Michael Kravitz
Blackadder Ledaig 6 Year 2005/2012

Nose: beautiful dry mossy peat with a smoky edge that makes me remember the smell of peat fires in Port Ellen, meaty/sulfury (in a good way), farmy notes, bittersweet chocolate, malt and wood integrate to form one warm whole, light fruity sherry (more with time), salty/maritime. After adding a few drops of water, the nose is almost overwhelmed by rich earthy notes like freshly turned soil, the peat becomes even mossier and retreats a bit, there is more pronounced saltiness/maritime influence, some kirschwasser notes pop out, and the meatiness becomes salted bacon.

Taste: the high proof gives the flavors and almost ethereal quality, significant amounts of cask strength sweetness throughout, shifting into dry peat, a big thump of sherry, then leaving with moderate amounts of sawdust-y oak, some farmy/sulfur-y notes, and more peat. After dilution, the flavors are less ethereal, the sweetness is somewhat tempered up front, but comes back with vigor near the back, the sherry is less obvious, while alcoholic heat is, if anything, even more pronounced, and the peat becomes earthier.

Finish: farmy peat, dank sherry tucked inside, with malt and oak underneath

It may be because my sample came from the last third of Michael's bottle, but I have to say that I *loved* this one. Unlike a lot of younger whiskies, I don't get any hint of new make from it. While the oak influence is relatively weak, it's more than made up for by the washes of mossy peat, which are perfectly accented by the sherry. Even better, this one plays pretty well with water.

For better or worse, I think bottles of this one are long gone. And the price was pretty high to begin with - the lowest I've seen on the internet was ~$90, which is an awful lot for such a young whisky. But even still, if I could find a bottle for under $80, I think I'd grab it. I liked this one so much that it'd be worth the money to me. I don't know that this one would appeal to a very broad audience, but it hits just the right spot for me.


  1. I'm not even going to go on record with how much I paid for this one. And there wasn't even any barrel char in the bottle! :) It's a shame how highly Blackadder prices its whiskies because they select a lot of interesting specimens.

    Winesearcher doesn't show anyone carrying this bottle, but some retailers still have them because who the heck other than we would buy them?!

    1. Sadly if any stores do have bottles left, they're not online, so I'm kinda stuck. But you're right that it's hard to know who is going to buy this kind of whisky. As I said, it's not going to appeal to a very broad audience.

    2. That's one of the things this release sings out: it couldn't be any less commercial. Which is great. I'll let you know if I ever see this bottle anywhere else.

  2. We brought in a total of 36 bottles for the US. Most Blackadder goes to WA, IL, DC and CA and sells quickly.