We filled up on whisky
We filled up on wine
We filled up on cinnamon hearts
And when we were done,
Took our tingly tongues
And licked all our favourite parts
—Matthew Barber, “Cinnamon Hearts”
I discovered the Bruichladdich Peat two years ago, whilst in search of an apparently discontinued Bowmore, as a gift for a friend. The shopkeep glumly shook his head and escorted me to the back room, where he stored his whiskies available for tasting. From the top shelf, he produced a Lagavulin, a Laphroaig, and—are you getting the picture?—with a subtle but knowing smile, the Bruichladdich Peat.
I tasted the three in succession, interleaved with water so as not to overcrowd or confuse the drams. The Lagavulin was lovely, of course, and the Laphroaig was no slouch, either. But the Peat. Oh, the Peat. I bought a bottle on the spot, and seriously considered keeping it for myself. Fortunately, I’m a good friend and bad with money, so I decided instead to give the bottle to the deserving recipient, as intended, and returned to the shop later the same week for a second of my own. I have since replaced that bottle several times over; I am quite smitten with it.
The nose is fascinating. You will find the peat smoke, of course, but one that imparts a viscous sweetness not unlike a Kansas City-style barbecue sauce. This gives way, almost immediately, to the aroma of salty corn chips, straight from a freshly opened bag. Beneath the surface, candy cinnamon hearts and, further below, anise. Marvellous!
The palate does not disappoint. Delightfully peated of course—though certainly not to the degree of a Bruichladdich Octomore or an Ardbeg Supernova—but here the cinnamon hearts sing, adding spice overtop a layer of orange zest and malty brown sugar. And, as advertised, I tasted not a hint of iodine. Finally, the body is light and pleasantly oily. This dram departs utterly from the typical Islay; the smoke positively dances off the tongue, completely unencumbered by the “weightiness” I find so common among the Lagavulins and Laphroaigs of the world.
The Bruichladdich Peat is an absolutely gorgeous whisky. I have enjoyed it, almost ritualistically, on many evenings since I purchased those first bottles, sublimely paired with a few squares of dark chocolate. I am left each time with a feeling of wistful remembrance that carries me off to bed for the night. I could ask for little else from my spirits.