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Describing Peat

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@Hewie
Hewie started a discussion

I'm amazed at the vast range of flavour profiles of single malt scotch whisky - considering that they're all based on essentially the same few raw ingredients. If we narrow it down further, there is also an impressive spectrum of peat flavours present in many whiskies. This is due not only to the source of the peat (and its original biological make up), but also the size the grist is ground to, the temperature and length of the fermentation, the cut points of the distillate, length of aging in different wood types....... I read recently about flavour scientists turning to web reviews in order to create a lexicon of descriptive terms for rum as it is increasing in popularity as a craft spirit. I'm interested in how you would describe the peat notes (flavour and aroma if you can separate them) from different distilleries. How does the peat profile of Laphraoig compare to Talisker, Caol Ila to Highland Park, Benromach to Ledaig, Springbank to Ardbeg? What terms or phrases would you use to describe your fav peater? Which do you prefer and why?

6 years ago

12 replies

@Hewie
Hewie replied

OK then, I'll start us off. The first bottle of single malt I ever bought was Laphroaig 10. I loved it at first, but then it became a struggle to finish the bottle. I enjoy most peated whisky, but I'm not such a fan of the Laph peat profile. Laphroaig: I'd agree with typical descriptions of it being medicinal, reminiscent of band aids and antiseptic. It smells very chemical to me. Talisker: a vegetal peat, leafy, savoury / umami flavours, contributes to the leather and tobacco notes, less smoky to my senses, some tarry notes. Springbank: has some similarities to Talisker peat - similar vegetal type profile with tobacco and leather. Minimal medicinal notes. Almost no 'smoke'. Benromach: more like a cold campfire. At the other end of the spectrum form Laphroaig - no medicinal component. Gentle wood smoke. Tomintoul with a Peaty Tang: I wasn't a fan of this bottle - like cold cigarette ash, very ashy and slightly medicinal, not my cup of tea! So there's a few to get us started. Do you agree or disagree? What other terms or imagery do you use to describe the different peat profiles?

6 years ago 1Who liked this?

@jeanluc
jeanluc replied

Earthy, vegetal, astringent.

6 years ago 4Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

I'm a huge Laphroaig fan. After Lagavulin, Laphroaig may be my favourite distillery. I find Laphroaig's peat medicinal on the nose, but I find it quite ashy on the finish.

Lagavulin: The nose is campfire smoke, vegetal, iodine peat. On the finish: briny, wood ash, vegetal peat.

Caol Ila: much "higher" and "lighter" pitch on the smoke. More like leaves smoking than big, thick, smoky logs. I find the peat more "citric".

Talisker: Briny, peppery, smoky peat.

6 years ago 2Who liked this?

@KRB80
KRB80 replied

Ardbeg - always described the 10yr's smokiness as "billowing."

6 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Hewie
Hewie replied

Glendronach peated: like cold ash, almost bitter - not a warming smokiness - harsher than the likes of Benromach or Highland Park.

6 years ago 0

@MadSingleMalt

My favorite "effect" that I get from good peated whisky is freshness! I love that feeling of inhaling air that's clean, fresh, and has never been breathed by any living thing and comes new-made from snowy mountains high beneath a dome of stars, or from shores of silver far away washed by seas of foam.

(Apologies to my favorite author for lifting that language.)

Many—but not all—peated whiskies deliver that feeling. A good version of Lagavulin 16 has it in spades.

6 years ago 3Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

@MadSingleMalt Is that Tolkien? I think Ardbeg 10 has that same quality of cleanness and freshness. It's the one that finally turned me onto peat about 13 years ago after resisting for 5 or 6 years before that. Once hooked, hooked for life.

6 years ago 0

@nooch
nooch replied

@MadSingleMalt I still prefer the fresh campfire of lagavulin to just about any other peat I've encountered - although the subtle , heathery peat of highland park 18 is glorious too. Have y

6 years ago 0

@Hewie
Hewie replied

@BlueNote yeah I agree with you here. Unfortunately, I don't use any preserver and my bottle of Ardbeg 10 that I opened at Christmas has lost much of its fresh peat appeal that I loved - it's now gone quite flat. I think the combo of the citrus notes with the tarry, resinous peat gives a real brightness to this one.

6 years ago 1Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

@Hewie My bottle of Talisker 10 went pretty flat when it was down to the last third and had been open for well over 6 months. I should look into the preserver as I have a lot of bottles open.

6 years ago 0

Liked by:

@OdysseusUnbound@MadSingleMalt@Nozinan@jeanluc