Category Archives: Peat

Summerton Virtual Whisky Festival, 2020.

COVID has cancelled a whole host of Whiskey Festivals this year.

I did manage to get in the excellent Fife Whisky Festival just before the lockdown – but it may prove to be the only physical show I’ll get to.

So when Summerton Whisky Club announced their online virtual festival – I had to give it a go!

Initially I was worried the festival pack wouldn’t get through the rather clogged postal situation – but it arrived in plenty of time.

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Virtual Whisky Festival! c/othewhiskeynut

My next problem was technology!

Turns out my old laptop is not up to speed – thank goodness for a loan of the wife’s modern machinery!

Bimber were up first.

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Ex-bourbon Bimber c/othewhiskeynut

This new London distillery offered an exbourbon cask at a stonking 51.8% to get things rolling!

A gorgeously rich vanilla laden single malt!

I must profess to having a soft spot for Bimber. A sample of their 1st Release came my way & impressed me very much.

After trying a London Single Malt – Dublin’s Single Pot Still was in order!

Under my table was Dublin’s 1st whiskey release in many years – Teeling Single Pot Still Batch 1.

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London & Dublin’s finest! c/othewhiskeynut

Very fresh & fruity in comparison to Bimber. Less wood influence too. Afraid to say Bimber wins out in this comparison!

Scalasaig’s Blended Malt Island Hopper sailed in next.

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Scalasaig Island Hopper c/othewhiskeynut

Soft peat & caramel with a warming smokey fire.

A back to back with The Dark Silkie blend was in order.

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Swimming with the Silkie! c/othewhiskeynut

Silkie came over cleaner, fresher & ultimately more enjoyable!

A Limited Edition 14 year old Tawny Port Finished Glen Scotia proved to be a stunner!

Ruby coloured, rich, nutty & warming with a hit of peat from the 52.8% strength. Fabulous!

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Campbeltown cracker! c/othewhiskeynut

Campletown Whisky obviously suits my palate after it came out tops in a blind tasting I did recently.

The Lakes Distillery The One Signature Blend suffered a little from the previous offering.

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Now this One! c/othewhiskeynut

The bottle appears to be redesigned & re-recipied from my 1st encounter at a Whisky Birmingham Show a few years ago. The main difference being Lakes own malt is used in the whisky.

One came across as a soft easy peater. Perhaps a sherry influence had detracted from the peat hit for me?

Hinch is the first Irish contribution to the show.

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Hinch Double Wood c/othewhiskeynut

The 5 Year Old Double Wood brings out the warm vanilla & spice of the cask maturation – although I still prefer the Peated Single Malt sampled previously.

Lambay provided the 2nd Irish selection with a cute duo of miniatures featuring their cognac finished blend & single malts.

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A Lambay duo c/othewhiskeynut

It’s fortunate I enjoyed larger samples at a tasting hosted in Sean’s Bar, Athlone. I’m still enjoying the fresher Small Batch blend over the smoother Single Malt though.

I didn’t have a cognac handy to try out the source cask – so made do with a brandy – and found those dark fruity & nutty notes along with a slight spice from the wood that enhanced the Lambay.

I do love Mackmyra’s Limited Editions. They are creative, experimental & feature part of Sweden in every bottle. My last time in Gotherburg introduced me to the range.

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Smashing Swedes c/othewhiskeynut

Efva & Fjällmark were the 2 samples. Both impressed me with their richness, depth & complexity – but Fjällmark just pipped the post for me.

I couldn’t pass up the chance to compare these 2 with a Single Cask Reserve Rök, 1st fill bourbon Mackmyra.

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Smokey Swede c/othewhiskeynut

Class smokiness!

At this stage of the evening I’d usually be on the train home – or tucking into a big feed to sober up – but Wolfburn were the finale with a duo of single malts – Morven & Northland.

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A pack of Wolves! c/othewhiskeynut

I was pleased to be reacquainted with these softly peated malts. The Morven won out in this contest.

Congratulations to all the team at Summerton Whisky Club for hosting this virtual show.

It’s been fun – but I must admit to missing the real thing.

My dram of the day?

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Campbeltown cracker! c/othewhiskeynut

Glen Scotia from the actual show

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Smokey Swede c/othewhiskeynut

& Mackmyra Reserve Cask from under my table!

Sláinte

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Galway Bay, Märzen To The Fire, 5.5%

Smoke isn’t exclusively either peat – nor restricted to whiskey.

The fuel used to dry the barley – or other grains – imparts a wide variety of flavours to the resultant beverage.

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Smokin’ c/othewhiskeynut

For this Galway Bay Märzen – a popular style of German lager – beechwood is the choice.

I was keen to sample the results.

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Beechwood smoked. c/othewhiskeynut

There’s an element of trompe l’oeil going on here.

You expect a dark, heavy ale – but get a light, refreshing lager overlaid with a soft, attractive wood fired smokiness.

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Ingredients c/othewhiskeynut

An excellent accompaniment to those lazy sunny afternoon BBQ’s.

Sláinte

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The Legendary Dark Silkie Smokey Irish Whiskey, 46%

Peat smoke.

It’s in fierce short supply as a flavour profile in Irish Whiskey.

Connemara flew the flag for many a year.

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Turf Mór c/othewhiskeynut

West Cork’s Peat Charred Cask used Irish Turf to flavour their barrels.

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Glorious Glengarriff whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

And lately WD O’Connell’s Bill Phil landed a smokey smacker.

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Peated Series c/othewhiskeynut

But they’re all Single Malts.

The big selling smokey blend market was effectively abandoned.

Inishowen did a gorgeous soft smoker from a few years ago.

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Inishowen, peated Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Three Crowns Peated uses Islay casks to great results.

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Dunvilles Three Crowns Peated c/othewhiskeynut

But actual peat dried barley in an Irish Blended Whiskey was hard got.

Step forward The Legendary Dark Silkie Smokey!

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Dark Silkie c/othewhiskeynut

I took it for a whirl!

That distinctive coastal peat aroma greeted me.

Smooth easy & sweet on the palate.

A softly glowing peat fire grew in intensity – slowly drying out – adding a few prickly spices along the way – before leaving in a blaze of glory.

Dark Silkie is not for the faint hearted.

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@SilkieWhiskey c/othewhiskeynut

This is full on unapologetic smoke for the peatheads out there.

Fantastic!

Sláinte

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Brand Ambassador Tasting, Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder, The Irish Collection

An invite to the Brand Ambassador Tasting at the fabulous Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder in Killarney transpired into a highly enjoyable & eminently entertaining evening.

I’d encountered all the Irish Whiskey selection before – yet it was wonderful to enjoy them again in such engaging company.

Celtic Casks 29, Single Cask, Single Malt, 46%

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First met CC29 on a Celtic Whiskey Club Tweet Tasting c/othewhiskeynut

A dignified, complex & well balanced ‘traditional’ single cask – ex-bourbon maturation & sherry finishing.

Kilbeggan Small Batch Rye, 43%

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Picked up bottle for blog Oct 2018 c/othewhiskeynut

The return of rye to Irish Whiskey! Softly spoken and pleasant. Lacking character for my palate.

Kilbeggan Single Pot Still, 43%

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Picked up bottle for blog December 2019 c/othewhiskeynut

A Technical File compliant SPS. The oats add a creamy smoothness contrasting with the spicy finish.

Powers 1817, 46%

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Bottle blog March 2017 c/othewhiskeynut

An underrated gem of an Single Pot Still. Always pleased to encounter this gorgeous whiskey.

Powers John’s Lane, 46%

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Vertical tasting blog March 2017 c/othewhiskeynut

The flagship bearer of the Powers core range. Soon to sport it’s controversial new livery!

Celtic Cask 25, 46%

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Celtic Cask 25 at Whiskey Live Dublin 2019 c/othewhiskeynut

A thoroughly enjoyable young & feisty peater with additional PX Cask finishing. Loving it.

Hard to pick a winner. All excellent in their own way. For sheer exuberance I think CC25 has it!

Oh – there were 2 American offerings.

I’ll get to them later.

Slàinte

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My thanks to all at Celtic Whiskey Bar for their warm hospitality.

Teacher’s, Highland Cream, Blend, 40%

I had the privilege of attending The Brand Ambassador’s Tasting at the fabulous Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder in Killarney recently.

Fine whiskey, great company & mighty craic ensued.

I came away with a nugget of Irish Whiskey sales information however.

The biggest selling whisky in Ireland from the eclectic & well represented Beam-Suntory brand portfolio is by a long shot – Teacher’s Highland Cream.

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A naggin of Teacher’s c/othewhiskeynut

So I bought a bottle.

It’s yer standard Scotch Blend product.

It’s chill filtered & has added caramel. It’s non age statmented and gives no list of the 30 or so distilleries that have contributed their malt and grain whisky to construct this historic blend – yet it sells bucket loads.

It’s a straight forward no nonsense attractively peated whisky that outsells all others on the Beam-Suntory portfolio.

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The light of Scotland is added caramel. c/othewhiskeynut

The colour is ‘The Light Of Scotland’ – according to the label.

A decent hit of peat on the nose is mellowed by a sweet honeyed palate. A slightly drying peaty bite leaves toffee notes to finish on.

Plain, simple peated whisky.

Clearly what the market wants.

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Inishowen, peated Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Yet ever since the demise of the gorgeous Inishowen – Irish Whiskey has no peated blend currently for sale.

Seems to be a big omission.

Slàinte

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Ballechin 10 Year Old, Single Malt, 46%

Mindful of my own advice to not store whiskey too long before consumption, I looked into one of my storage cupboards – dark & at constant temperature – to find a shocking amount of bottles.

The Ballechin was one that attracted me.

It had a few things going for it.

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Class! c/othewhiskeynut

To begin with – it was a small bottle that wouldn’t be around for long after opening. More pertinently it bore 3 phrases pleasing to my palate; unchill filtered, natural colour & heavily peated.

Class!

The nose was a mixture of peat smoke infused with dark stone fruits.

Rather than a dry ashy peatiness – a luscious smooth & engaging fruitiness eased me into a warming peat fire which wrapped me in it’s cosy embrace.

A gorgeously engaging whiskey to savor.

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Info on the box c/othewhiskeynut

Emanating from Edradour Distilley in the Highlands – the Ballechin is a run of peated malt they do.

Interestingly, for the first 160 years of it’s existence from 1825, there were no single malt bottlings. All product was used for fillings in the highly successful blended scotch market. Only in 1986 did Edradour start releasing their own single malts when that category began to rise in popularity.

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Whiskypedia c/othewhiskeynut

All this information was gleaned from Charles MaClean’s Whiskipedia book.

Which is a mine of information on Scottish Whisky Distilleries.

The perfect accompaniment to a great whisky.

Sláinte

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Islay Storm, Single Malt, 40%, The Sequel

After my initial findings with a washed out bottle of Islay Storm from last year – available here – I chanced upon a miniature bottle sporting a shiny new label & thought I’d check it out.

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A fresh Storm c/othewhiskeynut

I still had the old bottle – so did a comparison.

First off – the older bottle is slightly darker.

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Dark Storm v Light Storm? c/othewhiskeynut

More added caramel?

Longer in the cask?

A completely different source of single malt?

All of the above?

Who knows?

Being an independent bottling for C.S. James & Sons Ltd of Glasgow there is no guarantee what was in the old bottle is the same as the new. It’s the same for all bottlings – they change & evolve -and I have no problem with that.

On the nose the miniature was cleaner, fresher & more lively.

A lovely bright & full on smoky peat hit enveloped my palate from the start. Briny & a tad sweet at the end – but very enjoyable.

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Dull Storm c/othewhiskeynut

The old bottle was dull & flat in comparison. Only on the finish did the ashy peat rise up to give some life to the washed out contents.

If you enjoy a smoky number – Islay Storm clearly delivers.

Just drink your bottle in timely fashion to get the full effect!

Sláinte

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The Ileach, 40% + Cask Strength, 58%, Single Malts

The Ileach can mean a number of things.

The Ileach – the people of Islay – an island off the west coast of Scotland.

The Ileach – an independent newspaper read on Islay.

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A miniature Ileach c/othewhiskeynut

The Ileach – a pleasantly sweet peated whisky distilled in one of the nine whisky distilleries on Islay.

The nine are – in alphabetical order;

Ardbeg

Ardnahoe

Bowmore

Bruichladdich

Bunnahabhain

Caol Ila

Kilchoman

Lagavulin and

Laphroaig

If you’re looking for something a bit more punchier – The Ileach Cask Strength at 58% is yer man.

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A Cask Strength Ileach c/othewhiskeynut

Packing a lot more peat for yer pennies – or should that be pounds?

I picked up my miniature at the Wee Couper Of Fife Whiskey Shop in Anstruther last summer.

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The Wee Couper Of Fife Whisky Shop c/othewhiskeynut

They kindly gave me a taster of the Cask Strength Ileach.

Smashing!

Sláinte

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W.D. O’Connell, Bill Phil Peated Series, 47.5% vs 17 Year Old PX Series, 46%, Single Malts.

W.D. O’Connell are part of the next generation of Irish Whiskey brands/bottlers/bonders and distillers that have exploded onto the scene.

Labelling themselves as ‘Whiskey Merchants’, W.D. O’Connell source their spirit from existing distilleries – and have it finished to their own requirements.

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Bill on the left, PX to right c/othewhiskeynut

Showcased for the first time at Whiskey Live Dublin 2019– where I had a quick sample – as well as a tweet tasting I missed – I did get a couple of sample bottles for my tasting pleasure.

Bill Phil, Peated Series, 47.5%

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Peated Series c/othewhiskeynut

Peat – or turf in Ireland – is a flavour profile that has been absent in Irish Whiskey for too long. It’s a style I enjoy & I celebrate with open arms any newcomer’s reinterpretation of this distinctive character.

That lovely warm smokiness just captivated me straight away. Clear, crisp & slightly meaty. A joy to behold.

Delightfully young & fresh on the palate. The ashy peat smoke develops into an all embracing toastiness that wraps you heartily like a turf fueled fire.

A frisson of nutmegy spice dances merrily on the finish.

A stunner of a malt.

17 Year Old PX Series, 46%

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PX Series c/othewhiskeynut

A much more ‘traditional’ Irish style.

Cooley malt matured in ex-bourbon casks & finished in Pedro Ximenez barrels for 6 months.

A dark cherry sweetness on the nose.

Lucious fruitiness on the palate – more stone fruits than orchard apples – with a gentle spiciness to enliven the whiskey – finished off by a softly drying prickliness.

Classic stuff indeed – and very well done.

Preference?

Without a doubt – Bill Phil.

It’s young, it’s fresh, it’s exciting.

It marks the welcome return of peat to the Irish Whiskey cannon.

W.D. O’Connell sourced this one from the Great Northern Distillery. Hopefully it will be the first of many interpretations using peated malt from this distillery.

What would make it even more outstanding was if Irish turf was used to dry the barley.

But that’s for another day.

Slàinte

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Micil Irish Poitín, Heritage Edition, 46%

Every now and then there’s a release that just blows away the old myths.

One of the hackneyed stereotypical tropes used is that Irish Whiskey isn’t peated – or as I’m in Ireland – turfed.

Any cursory study of past recipes clearly shows it was – as the collective who collaborated to produce this Heritage Poitín found – and thankfully it now is.

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Micil distillery Instagram Post

Micil Heritage Poitín is the first spirit to use Irish turf to smoke Irish Barley  & Irish Oats in a long time.

This is a game changer.

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Drinking Poitín at the Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

The other myth is that to be a good whiskey it must be aged – preferably for a long time.

Well – after tasting this fabulous poitín – age is only a number.

This is the original uisce beatha – the water of life – that started the whole whiskey craze.

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Micil’s back label c/othewhiskeynut

It’s pure, it’s clear and it’s a delight to drink.

The final myth is that barley is the be all and end all of whiskey.

Again – no relevance to the actual recipes of the past that traditionally used a mixed mash bill of barley – both malted & unmalted – wheat, rye and oats.

The oats in Micil Heritage Poitín give it a gorgeous creaminess with a depth of body & generous legs.

The turf smoke is like the warm hug of a winters fire sharing the craic with friends & family.

Micil Heritage Poitín is stepping back in time to go forward.

I raise a glass to all involved.

To the return of Irish turf!

Sláinte

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