Ledaig Sinclair Series Rioja Cask Finish Single Malt Scotch Whisky (700ml)
Ledaig's foray into the value peated category is a noteworthy success.
Summed up by one taster as "Sweet and smoky, with loads of fruit and more complexity than you'd expect for the price", this bottling represents the first instalment of a new series paying homage to the founder of Tobermory distillery, John Sinclair. The combination of red wine and smoke is a tried and tested formula with peated malts. Ledaig add another twist with this expression finished in a Spanish Rioja cask. The nose goes through several stages; firstly, obviously peaty and dappled with ripe berries, then slightly feinty and dried-grass-like (as Tobermory often is) and finally more aligned with its Islay cousins as it exudes a fresh maritime edge. There is no denying the punch of peat on the palate. Ledaig is sometimes compared with Ardbeg, but most bottlings of the latter don't come close to the kind of peat-blast offered here. The intensity is almost cask-strength with pepper augmenting the sensation; the peat takes on a rustic aspect with an earthy, lanolin feel. Add to that a deliciously salty tang combined with a succulent berry character and Sinclair is not only massively tasty but also surprisingly complex. Pushing into the value bracket, this is a more than worthy alternative to regular Islays whose prices continue to head north. 46.3% Alc./Vol. Non-chill filtered. Natural colour.
Silver Medal. 92 points - International Wine & Spirits Challenge 2022.
Notes from the producers... Nose: Notes of Turkish delight and rose petals balanced with candied fruits and grapes followed by rich leather and a beautiful peppery spice. A hint of chocolate comes through at the back. Palate: Creamy mouthfeel packed full of almonds, barley and sweet malt with notes of peppery Ledaig, which give way to black raspberries, sweet vanilla and cocoa interspersed with cinnamon spice and hints of freshly cut grass. Finish Lingering smoky finish with red fruit and sea spray.