This is my review of our second bottle from Blackadder’s “Raw Cask” series which bottles whisky directly from the cask- without any mechanical filtering of the charred cask sediments and wood flakes. To find out more about Blackadder, check out the first review here.
The second bottle is a Ledaig single malt matured in a single refill sherry butt.
Ledaig (pronounced “lad-chig”) expressions are distilled at an Island distillery called Tobermory. Tobermory is the only whisky distillery situated on the Isle of Mull which lies off the west coast of the Scottish Highlands. The distillery produces 2 lines of single malt – the unpeated Tobermory single malt, and the heavily peated Ledaig single malt which we would get to sample today.
In the glass, the spirit is actually a richer gold – with a slightly redder hue than the Ben Nevis.
On the nose, this has very aromatic tobacco smoke with a slight briny oceanic character with iodine and kombu (seaweed). The smokiness is manageable and is not sooty- rather similar to smelling a tobacco box. The smokiness is accompanied by a minor note of sweetness and stickiness of red fruits including dried red dates, raisins and figs. On the back of these aromas is a little bit of earthiness and milk chocolate.
On the palate, smokiness presents itself the moment this lands on the tongue. Dominant notes of smoke take centre stage. And unlike what was found on the nose, there is a distinct sootiness and burnt barbecue meat character to the smoke. There is a considerable degree of sweetness from red fruits and honey, which together with the barbecued smokiness permeating your nose, creates a flavour not unlike the aftertaste of eating burnt char siew pork.
This develops quickly into a type of smokey-earthiness, like drinking a gulp of room temperature oolong tea, tea leaves and all, which then leaves my teeth with a chalky sensation.
The triumvirate of smoke, honeyed sweetness and earthiness is relatively well-balanced. Good amount of smoke is balanced out by a degree of sweetness that is just right, leaving a rather refreshing sensation in the mouth, somewhat like after drinking tea.
With so much going on, there is almost no spice to detect apart from a slight warmth at the back of the throat.
The finish is medium length with a fading tobacco note.
My experience with this dram is nothing short of fascinating. I am pleasantly surprised that, despite being so obviously and dominantly peaty, the spirit remains rather crisp. This is unlike some other heavily peated drams that drown out your senses with smoke or cloying sweetness.
Decidedly evocative of my time at a Hong Kong café (cháhchāantēng) where I had a breakfast of charsiu buns and chinese tea.
Barbecued eggplants with chili and garlic (Image Source: China Sichuan Food)
I've always felt that there has got to be a decent veggie-whisky pairing out there in the vast culinary world. More recently, my belief was vindicated at a Chinese shaokao (燒烤) joint which served oily barbecued eggplants topped with aromatic herbs and chopped garlic. I know- it is a little unusual to pair whisky with spicy food- but this works… trust me. The aromatic soot of the Ledaig very much elevates the burnt taste of the eggplants, while the honeyed sweetness cuts right through the spice from the chili to tamper its bite.
If this sounds like something you’d like, check out the Blackadder shelf at INTERCO's online store.