I said "L-E-D-A-I-G."
I know you are drawing a blank. Me too. Sounds like some tropical disease of the lower bowel that afflicted the machete swinging, 16 century Spanish soldiers, who hacked their way through suffocatingly humid Peruvian jungle, on the orders of the murderous, Inca gold-loving conquistador, Francisco Pizarro.
It's not another word for Lord Byron era "consumption" either.
Depending on who you ask, "Ledaig" is pronounced as "led-ching" or "let-chick." I suspect Gaelic pronunciation will vary depending on the particular region the person you ask resides in. In any event, "Ledaig" is the former name of the Tobermory Distillery on the Isle of Mull, in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. I guess the owners also found the original distillery name had some unwanted connotations that impeded the marketability of the whisky.
Black Bottle (the latter, I am particularly fond of).
The distillery bottles most of its whisky under "Tobermory" and it is somewhat salty, fruity, but unpeated. The distillery also bottles under the label of "Ledaig" and it is peaty and providing plenty of smoke. So how is it?
Mildly antiseptic, loam, earthen, smokey and nicely peated.
Salty, fresh raw oysters, iodine, rich seawater, a ginger/sulphur sweetness lurks too, and is complimented by tart salt notes of sea foam. The loam and earthen notes of the nose come through on the palate too. Peat? Yes, of course. It is peated, but not over the top. This is not Laphroaig or Ardbeg. However, there is more intensity than say Bowmore 12. This shares a lot in common with Isle of Jura offerings. I can see where Black Bottle gets its magic.
Ginger and kippers transition into a cloud of black smoke rising up from a bunch of damp branches burning down on the beach on a cold winter's day. The length of the finish is truly impressive. It hangs forever!
I think the higher than usual ABV contributes to the very lengthy finish to this delightful whisky. Normally at such an ABV, I would think adding a little water is a must, but that is not the case here. Ledaig is smooth and never harsh. So, there is no need to add water to make it more gentle. He's a gentle giant already. I have added water and have not found an improvement. I prefer it neat and really have to salute the team that put this single malt together. To have a wonderfully peated malt at 46.3 ABV with no bite or rough edges is an incredible feat.
This non-chill filtered whisky is very light in color. I am certain no caramel coloring was added to this malt. I find it almost shocking how light in color it is. Matter of fact, I cannot think of a malt that is lighter. Reminds me of straw.
This reminds me of Black Bottle, but is much better. Of course there is a huge difference in price too. Ledaig also shares a lot in common with Isle of Jura Superstition and Smokehead. Ledaig is far superior though. With it's impressive length of flavor, complexity and balance. It just beats the hell out of the other two. Matter of fact, I definitely prefer this over Bowmore 12, and Bowmore 12 is a very nice entry level Islay malt.
If you enjoy peaty whisky this is one for you. If you want to experiment with the peat and smoke elements in scotch, again this bottle may be ideal for you. However if you avoid Islay malts and not a fan of Talisker and Isle of Jura then I doubt you will enjoy this one.
Expensive! At least where I live. If you can find this for $60 or less, you are breaking the law my friend. That's well worth it. I paid around $80 but I am still satisfied with this purchase.
Suggested Food Pairing?
blood pudding and fresh scallops. They also had apple chutney. Take a mouthful of scallops or the earthy blood pudding and then chase it with some Ledaig, and you may as well tell everyone that you have been to Heaven and lived to tell about it.
I attempted to recreate such a meal at home. Couldn't find the apple chutney, but I had no problem locating the blood pudding and scallops. To this I thought caramelized onions would be nice too. Preparation is simple. Pan fry the blood pudding, but not for very long. You do not want to dry out the sausage. Maybe 8 minutes on medium heat, all the while turning over frequently. In another frying pan, with some butter, fry up two, finely chopped, large white onions, do it on medium heat. Let them blacken and reduce, and add a little more butter. When the onions are reduced to caramelized, blackened bits, they will be ready to join the blood pudding on a plate. Finally, those scallops can be pan fried with butter but for a very short time on medium heat, like maybe 10 minutes. Turn over the scallops frequently.
The sausage is very earthy, while the scallops are sweet with a taste of the sea, and the onions keep everything in check. Taste slowly with your whisky.
Do this and you will never confuse Ledaig with a 16th century tropical disease again!