In the blog post OMFG there’s asphalt in my glass, I chatted with you (ok, a one-sided chat as I can’t hear you) about the abominable peat monster. As mentioned in that post, the longer a peated malt matures in the cask the less the peat monster attacks as it loses its hostility, so to speak. For those who had not yet tried a peated malt and may now be willing to give it a go, here are five lightly peated whiskey’s to start your journey. The descriptions will be short as compared to a full review.
Oban 14 – yes, yes, I know. I’m an Oban hound. Perhaps one day Diageo (corporate owner of Oban Distillery) will read this blog and know that I would be the best damned brand ambassador for Oban they could ever dream for. The 14 year old is Oban’s core expression – a hint of citrus and sea brine with a bit of honey and spice, a lightly oily mouthfeel and slowly warming finish of floral herbs and a touch of peat smoke round out the flavor.
Springbank 15 – deep fruits but not overly sweet, maybe some raisins, black currants that are still fresh. A darker caramel comes through alongside some tannins/oak and a hint of smoke. Not so much peat as the smoke from the peat sneaking through with vanilla at the end.
Highland Park 18 – You’re going to smell flowers and fruit with this one, and lots of it! Fruit and honey and vanilla hit your palate quickly and linger, but the taste doesn’t end there. Baking spice starts to fill your senses after you take your first breath after the initial drink. It finishes earthy (there’s the sneaky peat) with some herbal presence. Even though this is a bit on the sweeter side of life, there’s definitely oak in your glass.
Talisker 10 – Oh, I love this one! A bit peatier than the others on this list, but it’s wonderful! Green apples and old leather and malt and caramel all meet the nose. You may taste overripe pear followed by earthy peat as you hold it in your mouth and continue to breath through your nose. A very warm long finish with oak and black tea at the back of the tongue. More ripe fruit at the front. Not too smoky, but the peat certainly comes through.
Jura Superstition – As smell and taste are closely associated with memory, when I take in a whiff I’m reminded of my great-grandparents home when they lived there. Stale tobacco pipe that hadn’t been smoked in a while and something baking in the oven. As with the Talisker, not much smoke hits you at the nose. There’s also a very dark honey, like a Texas wildflower honey. Though this bottle is labeled as lightly peated, I don’t get much peat at all. The palate isn’t overly sweet, yet there’s almost a dry red wine fruitiness to it. Very easy peat, very easy entry. Ahh, finally, there’s some oak at the end, several minutes on.
I hope that you will either select one of these to give the ‘ol bit of dried mud a try, or even a Bowmore 18 as that is often suggested as lightly peated as well. These are a great way to start the exploration of peat – its earthiness and heady smoke. Oh, and I promise, I’ll have more posts that have nothing to do with the bogs coming up next!