Greetings whisky lovers!
In this tasting pack we are pleased to showcase five delightful bottlings of peated whisky from Scotland and beyond.
Each distillery has been carefully selected as one that represents the finest iteration of peated malt whisky.
I trust you will enjoy your journey into the smoky wonders that is peated whisky, while initially the smoky taste can be overpowering, you will find that each malt is varied and delightful.
For the most part, the whisky in this tasting flight heralds from the Islay region of Scotland. The small island off the west coast of Scotland are sometimes called “The Whisky Islands” or Islay for short, due to its concentration of distilleries. There are eight working distilleries within this region, all within its 240 square miles.
As the historic base of the ancient regional kings who were known as the “lords of the isles.” Islay has a history of independence that has echoed in the unique flavours of its malt whisky. The islands topography has helped create some of the strongest-flavoured malt whiskies ever produced.
Islay has large areas of peat bog, so it is unsurprising that its malts are often quite high in phenols. Winter gales drive salt spray inland, saturating the peat, adding another distinction to Islay malt whisky.
Due to its abundance, the peat is then dug up and used to heat the malting floors of Islay distilleries. As the barley malts in the heat, it then takes on the distinct smoky and peated flavours of the kilns underneath. The result is a powerful, almost medicinal taste, that is saturated in peat smoke and slaty brine. These are the flavours you would most often associate with Laphroaig, Talisker and Ardbeg whisky.
To the north of the islands, the distilleries produce a different style of peated whisky. Bunnahabhain draws the spring water used in the distillation process before the water has had a chance to come into contact with peat. They also use lightly peated or unpeated barley, so as you will experience, the whisky has a more mellow or lighter style than the rest of the tastes.
Other distilleries around the globe have taken to peated barley as a way to augment their existing wares, as is the case with Benromach, a speyside distillery who has chosen to peat dry its barley to give it the complex fireside taste.
Our final distillery showcased in this tasting, Amrut, have taken a different approach to producing a delightful peated whisky, by importing the barley directly from Scotland. With Armut being located in the middle of India, this is no mean feat!
Set along the Isle of Skye coast, this distillery is known for its powerful and peaty malts.
The Talisker 10 has a powerful peat and sea-salt nose, smoky sweetness with malt flavours and developing warmth with a huge peppery finish. As with other members of the family. This malt tastes superb alongside smoked salmon (caught locally, of course!)
Colour: Nose: Thick, pungent smoke. Notes of kippers, seaweed, apple peels. Fresh and fragrant.
Palate: Full bodied with huge plumes of smoke and volcanic, peppery peat. Intense.
Finish: Long finish, barley, malt.
Laphroaig Select takes its name from the special selection of American and European casks, chosen for their unique character that they give during maturation. The Inspiration for the Select Cask was taken from history – 70-80 years ago, the time of the last family member owner of the distillery, Ian Hunter.
Ian was one of the biggest influences in the history of Laphroaig indeed he was one of the first distillers to travel to bourbon county in the USA to identify new sources of casks that would give him greater consistency as well as new flavors. He later married this ‘new’ style of Laphroaig with his traditionally matured (European cask) Laphroaig.
Inspired by his early work, Laphroaig has used Oloroso sherry butts, straight American white oak (non-filled with bourbon), PX seasoned hogsheads casks, Quarter Casks and finally, of course, first fill Bourbon Casks. This varied cask maturation technique enabled Laphroaig to create 6 new flavor combinations that were then tested by the distillery team and whisky lovers to choose their favorite style and indeed name.
The winning flavor and name is what you see before you in this tasking pack: Laphroaig Select Cask
Colour: A Fully Natural colour with no caramel added, it is sparkling gold with layers of colour – arising from different maturations and oils mixing together.
Nose: Peat first, then ripe red fruits from the PX and Oloroso casks. A hint of dryness next from the American oak with a long lingering florally finish - Marzipan and even limes at the end.
Palate: This full bodied whisky is initially sweet up front- matching the nose, then the classic dry, peaty, ashy flavours come bounding in followed by a lovely rich finish arising from the rich fruits of the European casks.
Finish: Distinctly peated finish with a sweet edge
As the first single malt whisky to be made in India, the history of Amrut Distilleries is as old as the history of independent India itself. The founders of the Amrut Distillery chose their name from an ancient Indian legend that tells of Angels who sought to produce a drink that confers immortality. According to Indian Mythology, when Gods and Rakshasas – the demons – churned the oceans using the mountain Meru as churner, a golden pot sprang out containing the Elixir of Life, called the “Amrut”. With drinks that offer lasting pleasure, the founders thought it apt to name their distillery Amrut.
This peated malt has been made using peated barley imported specifically from Scotland. Combine this with the heat and spice of India, it makes for a bold peated taste that melts on the tongue.
Colour: Golden bronze
Nose: Golden yellow Nose: Unusually dry peat; comforting worn leather, akin to an old armchair; a hint of citrus and a touch of caramel too.
Palate: Candied orange and powerful fruit notes. Becomes that little bit drier and spicier, with coffee and vanilla mingling with a butterscotch that continues throughout.
Finish: Deep, long, clear finish with the peat reappearing wrapped in butterscotch and vanilla for an impressive finale.
Pour yourself a dram of this seriously smoky single malt whisky that is only produced very small batches. This unique whisky heralds from Benromach, a Speyside whisky whisky maker that is traditionally known for its fruity and floral whisky style. You’re one of the few people who are able to enjoy this fine smoked malt.
The finest Scottish barley is malted with high levels of peat smoke at 67ppm, this puts it on part with Laphraoig in terms of smokiness.
Colour: Light honey
Nose: sweet vanilla, honey and cured meat aromas, hints of apricot and lemon combining with a beautiful subtle tobacco note.
Palate: There’s cracked pepper with sweet strawberry and orange flavours, a delicate hint of aniseed… combined with a lingering edge of bonfire embers.
Finish: A strong peppery spice that gives way to the highlight smokiness.
Bunnahabhain Distillery was designed from the start as a high-output malt distillery. Built round a courtyard, in a style that resembles a Bordeaux chateau, the distillery today is little changed. It amalgamated with William Grant and Sons in 1887 to become part of the Highland Distillers group. During 1963 the number of stills were increased from 2 to 4.
Bunnahabhain (meaning 'mouth of the river') shares its name with the village that grew up around it. In effect, development of the distillery created a community dependent upon it for employment. In doing so, an entire village emerged.
Colour: Pale Gold
Nose: Salty and sweet with an underlying smokiness. Cured meat aromas with cooking apples and dried figs.
Palate: Smoky and sweet initially on the palate, with melon and apricot flavours and a milk chocolate edge.
Finish: Strong lingering campfire with a slight bitterness