A head to head of two 1972 Ledaig’s. From 1930 - 1979 Ledaig (Tobermory) was open for a grand total of not even 5 years (1971-1975). Then from 1979 - 1990 open only sporadically. So sporadically in fact that there are only 5 bottles from this era in whiskybase, for Ledaig and Tobermory! (Most of what was produced probably went into blends, but nevertheless). To say that Tobermory has had a bumpy road would be an understatement. 1972 is considered to be the best vintage simply because only as soon as they started so did the financial trouble, with quality following until their ultimate closure in 1975. So this is a very special side by side indeed.
The Cadenhead bottling was likely a US release due to the fact it is a 750ml bottle. Hey an extra 50ml, god bless America! Bottled in 1995, it’s got over 24 years of bottle aging. I always find it quite romantic when it’s been in the bottle for such a long time.
Alambic Classique is a German bottler that according to scotchwhisky.com is famous for bottling a number of 1972 Ledaigs... And they did indeed bottle 7 different 1972 Ledaig/Tobermory according to whiskybase. So it’s no wonder my sample is from a German friend. What a treat!
A wonderful and educational side by side. Although completely different, the Alambic Classique wins out. A benchmark Ledaig.
1972 Ledaig 22 Year Old (Cadenhead) 54% Oak Cask
Nose: (92) Softer, very honeyed - love that! Beeswax, Soft tarry peat, wool, spruce trees, crushed rocks, lemon water, soft smoke. Creamy. Old school. Soft metals, polish. This style has no modern comparable.
Palate: (92) Creamy, soft wax, soft lemony peat that builds, lots of fresh honey, licorice root, ginger. Great viscous mouthfeel, you do not feel the 54% at all.
Finish: (91) Long, lemons, chalk, minerals, tarry peat - peat picks up here. Horseradish root, pepper. Mouthcoating and slightly salty.
Notes: This old waxy distillate style that is so creamy, viscous and naked is my favourite. Nothing hits you in the face, but slowly unfurls itself with time. A great old malt from a great bottler. I like it best with a drop of water (too much flattens it out).
1972 Ledaig 32 Years Old (Alambic Classique) 48.9% Oloroso Sherry Butt
Nose: (93) Powerful, waxed raspberries, lingonberry, raisin, strawberry preserve, underripe cherries, blood orange, cement, soft elegant peat. The peat is supporting and envelopes other flavours beautifully. Dry leaves in the fall, twigs. Herbs like bay leaf and fennel. Red licorice. Varnish. Really complex and evolving nose.
Palate: (93) Waxed red berries, wax builds, dark chocolate, Black Forest cake, cherry, cola, chalky minerals the Ledaig dna, wool, herbs. Very rich and full mouthfeel. Chocolatey and creamy.
Finish: (92) Fresh red berries, chocolate, leather, chalky, minerals, Pinot noir, sweet and smoky. The Oloroso comes across more as a Pinot noir in the finish; earthen, soft herbs and delicate.
Notes: What’s most striking about this malt (and old school sherry in general) is the easiness of it. It’s so much gentler, and compliments the spirit much better, rather than run it over. One of the best marriages of sherry and spirit I have come across. Wonderful earthy, herbal, chocolatey and peaty aromas. I did not feel the need to add water. Thanks to my German friend for the sample. Sláinte!