Laphroaig 1998, Ledaig 2005 & Glenburgie 1998 (The Whisky Exchange)
For years, The Whisky Exchange has released exclusive single cask whiskies, but it wasn’t until last year that finally an ongoing independent label was created. The first six whiskies were released for The Whisky Show 2019 — now it’s time for the second batch of whiskies.
These three latest single casks were selected by Sukhinder Singh, co-founder and owner of the Whisky Exchange. First, there’s a 13-year-old Ledaig from a single sherry butt. Secondly we’ve a 21-year-old Glenburgie from a ex-bourbon hogshead. The pièce de résistance is a 21-year-old Laphroaig, a distillery rarely seen as an independent bottling. This whisky was re-racked in 2010 and spent the final nine years of its maturation in a sherry hogshead.
Nose: Notes of dried seaweed, iodine, herbal peat and charcoal first appear, but there’s also a hint of rosewater, bung cloth, aniseed and milk chocolate. Such a treat.
Taste: Cigar smoke, ashes and earthy, but surprisingly juicy and well-rounded, more so than similar Ledaig I’ve tried. Soft forest fruits, touches of citrus and menthol, but also smoked paprika powder and leather.
Finish: Peaty and more of the above. Long.
Nose: A chalky whiff of dust followed by sweet barley and notes of tinned pineapple. There’s also room for overripe apple parts and a very pleasant touch of pear skin. Finally a hint of Maraschino cherries, papaya and mango. So very fruity once again.
Taste: We’re going along the same track already laid down by the nose. Not the same vibrant fruitiness as last year’s Black Friday edition, but pineapple and orchard fruits nonetheless, complemented by some sour elements and oak spices, the latter of which are a tad too present. Nice viscosity too.
Finish: Lingering spices, oak and feint apple notes.
Nose: Gentle smoke, cigar tobacco, leather and shoe polish. There’s a touch of well-seasoned grilled beef also. The sherry maturation expresses itself in the form fruitiness as well. Think prunes, sultanas and blackberries. Hint of soy sauce. The balance is top notch — extremely well-integrated.
Taste: Oily stuff with a medicinal touch. However, the rubber soles, tar and peat smoke are just one piece of the puzzle. This is a sweet and fruity dram with candied oranges, cherry syrup and blackberries. There’s some pink peppercorn too, as well as a bit of furniture polish.
Finish: Lingering peat, orris root and a subtle sweetness. Long.
This is a winning trio, with the Ledaig (no surprise there) offering the most bang for your buck. Sherry-matured Ledaig from 2004 and 2005 have proven very reliable. You really can’t go wrong with any cask from that parcel, and this release from The Whisky Exchange is no exception.
Expectation were (unfairly?) high for the Glenburgie after that fantastic Black Friday release from last year. While it doesn’t reach the same highs, this latest Glenburgie from The Whisky Exchange once again shows why it’s a distillery to keep an eye on. It’s long been praised for its fruity spirit, but Glenburgie finally seems to have some momentum.
Finally, the Laphroaig is next-level stuff. It’s a whisky I could nose for hours (and I might’ve done so). The integration between spirit and cask is fantastic. Especially the nose is of a throwback quality, but slowly sipping this Islay spirit is a joy in itself.
The Ledaig, Glenburgie and Laphroaig will go on sale at The Whisky Exchange sometime today.
Samples provided by The Whisky Exchange
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.