Thursday, September 18, 2014

Whisky Review: Exclusive Malts 'Island Distillery' 7 Year/2005 for K&L Wines

As I noted when reviewing a previous Exclusive Malts Ledaig, it seems like more and more young single malts from the distillery are being bottled.

This particular cask, while of the same vintage (it seems like a lot of the recent Ledaigs have been from 2005) and type (ex-bourbon), is slightly younger and was selected by the Davids at K&L Wines. It was bottled at 57.2% without chill filtration or coloring.

Thanks to Florin for a sample of this whisky.

Exclusive Malts 'Island Distillery' 7 Year

Nose: lots of fresh vegetal peat with fairly well-integrated new make notes, warm rubber, toasted and fresh wood notes, restrained malt underneath, salty playdough, seaweed, struck matches, an undercurrent of lavender fields, ethereal berry notes. After adding a few drops of water, the peat becomes cleaner, more vegetal, and less earthy, while the malt and oak are emphasized, and some maritime notes come out.

Taste: restrained malt and wood sweetness up front, fading into earthy cacao, grainy malt, vegetal peat, and bittersweet oak, with light berry esters riding on top over everything. After dilution, the berry esters and malt/wood sweet become more prominent, while the peat becomes more mild, all making it seem less youthful and toning down the alcohol.

Finish: malt sweetened vegetal peat, mild oak tannins, earthy loam, and lots of alcohol heat

This seems significantly better than the Exclusive Malts Ledaig 8 Year/2005 I reviewed a little while ago. There's just enough oak and oxidation to temper the youthfulness without losing too much of the unique qualities of the spirit. With that said, it still doesn't have anything on the Blackadder Ledaig 6 Year I tried - sherry casks seem to be necessary to transform young Ledaig spirit from a curiosity into something magnificent. As is, I feel like this remains no more than a curiosity - if I want a younger Ledaig, I would still turn to the OB 10 Year first as it is much more enjoyable. On the upside, this EM bottling isn't a whole lot more money ($60), which is one of the requirements for picking up something as an education rather than enjoyment (though I'd still try to split it with a few friends or put it in a tasting). As of this post, there are still a number of bottles left, so if this or any other reviews (see Michael, who liked it a lot more, and MAO, who seemed closer to my feelings) make you want to grab some, it's still available.


  1. I agree with your assessment, yet I am happy to have bought this - and I may have a second bottle as well. I rarely drink it on its own, since the peat is overpowering, but I like to add some of it to other whiskies. Prime candidate would be a solid ex-sherry whisky, e.g. GlenDronach, Glenfarclas, maybe Macallan. These are usually to sweet or too vinous for me on their own. The thing with Ledaig is that - like Laphroaig - although it's over-the-top, it's a complex whisky with a lot of personality. In other words, there's more to it than peat.

    Oh, and you know what works best with a little of this 7yo Ledaig? Are you ready? Standard Tobermory 10yo!

    1. I've thought for a while that Burn Stewart needs to start making a blended malt. Tobermory, Ledaig, and unpeated and peated Bunnahabhain with the right mix of bourbon and sherry casks could make something really complex and stunning.