Category Archives: Peat

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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MacLeod’s, Isle Of Skye, 8 Year Old Blended Scotch, 40%

Another miniature from my mixed bag winning auction lot.

I couldn’t resist humming the opening line from the famous Andy Stewart hit song ‘Donald Where’s Yer Troosers?’

‘I’ve just come down from the Isle Of Skye’.

Well some of the whisky in this blend did.

It started off fine – the colour was reassuringly pale.

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An Ian MacLeod brand. c/othewhiskeynut

But the nose was sweet – very sweet – with a dull stale smell.  This one was obviously on the turn!

I took a swig.

Pale, watery & dull.

The only sign of life was a residue smokiness from the peat.

Not undrinkable – but not pleasant.

Pity.

This one had the potential to be a clean fresh easy peater.

I did check the screw cap seal. It was slightly discoloured. A sign – so I’ve been told – the whisky has deteriorated. Seems to hold true in this instance.

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Screw cap discolouration. c/othewhiskeynut

Obviously ‘just come down from the Isle Of Skye’ too long ago!

Sláinte

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The Joy Of Pubs, Teacher’s vs Highland Earl, Blends, 40%

There was an article in the Irish Times the other day about rural development & Gort happened to feature.

Picking up the paper in the town itself after an enjoyable evening topped off the experience.

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Gort in the news. c/othewhiskeynut

The revelry started with a meal at The Gallery Cafe in the Square. A popular spot offering great food & some tasty  beers to boot.

Kinnegar’s Rustbucket Rye Ale washed down my burger delightfully as we chatted outside on the terrace taking advantage of the warm evening sunshine.

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Kinnegar Rye Ale c/oOBriensWine

A bar was selected afterwards & Cummins on Main Street suited us.

Garishly coloured on the outside & embazoned with GAA murals we entered into a trad session being played in the corner by a group of local musicians with a small gathering of drinkers happily tapping along.

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Teacher’s c/oMasterOfMalt

The usual whiskey suspects lined the shelves, Powers, Paddys & Jameson being the standards – a Teacher’s was there too and I fancied a peat hit so went with it.

Teacher’s is a well established blend of Scotch Whisky. A bit on the rough & ready side, sweet peat & a little spirity, but you know what you’re getting.

Chatting away I scanned the shelves for something I’d not had before & spotted a couple of bottles half hidden behind others.

Highland Earl Special Reserve was duly ordered on the next round.

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Highland Earl c/othewhiskeynut

Now Highland Earl is an Aldi brand. An entry level one at that too – and I’d hesitated buying one after having a tad too many caramel laden blends in the past – but being in a bar is a fabulous way to sample it.

My first nosing raised a smile.

A decent waft of balanced peat greeted me.

Wasn’t expecting that!

The palate was more mellow & soothing than the Teacher’s. Yes there is added caramel & yes there is probably chill filtering – but then so has Teacher’s.

If anything Highland Earl lived up to it’s – admittedly low level – titled status by being a step up in enjoyment from the recognisable big brand.

Now the bar’s bottle seems to be an old offering. There is no age statement as with the current 3 Year Old release – and a tagline on the label proclaims it to be a 2010 IWSC Winner!

So I can’t vouch if what is on sale now matches the bottle I tried – but what I can say is the Earl entertained me for the rest of the evening!

Oh the joy of pubs & the simple pleasures of a decent peated blend!

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