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Smokiest whisky?

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Smokiest whisky?

Postby Fscott » Sat Jan 01, 2011 8:53 pm

A Lagavulin 16 on New Year's Eve was one of my first whisky experiences. For this reason, I broke out the 1990 Laga Distillers Edition after dinner last night. My father-in-law actually asked me if something was burning in the kitchen, and two other guests later wondered about the smoky smell. Turns out it was coming from the whisky glass. It made me laugh, but also made me think: What is the smokiest whisky out there? In another post some people were ranking whiskies on a 'smokiness' scale of 1-10. In my limited experience, the smokiest I have tried is a Laphroaig 10. Where do the older expressions rank? What about Peat Monster and Smokehead and the likes?

Just wondering.

Happy New Year to all.
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby The Third Dram » Sat Jan 01, 2011 9:26 pm

As far as I am aware, two of the 'smokiest' malt Scotch whiskies (in terms of parts phenols per million imparted during the malting process) on the market at the moment are Octomore (from the Bruichladdich stable) and Supernova (from Ardbeg).

However, as has been discussed elsewhere, the apparent 'smokiness' of a whisky is not necessarily directly related to the 'ppm' phenol factor. Other influences (type of peat and/or coal utilized, manner in which the maltings are operated, degree of maturation of the whisky, flavour spectrum/balance of the malt, etc.) also play significant roles in the resulting 'smokiness' of a whisky.
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby MacDeffe » Sun Jan 02, 2011 7:19 am

Of the standard produces, Laphroiag has the most peated newmake.

Ardbeg is made from "peatier" barley, but due to the distilling process the newmake from Laphroaig contains more phenols ppm-wise

Now this is pure chemistry, phenols is a huge subgroup of organic chemical compounds, and a phenols are very different and a phenol doesn't necesarily contribute with a smoky/peaty flavour. So just because a newmake has the same ppm level of phenols they aren't necesarily tasting the same peatwise.

The peat used and the distilling process combined will result in unique peat-profiles for every produce that has a lot more to it than just a number

The peatynessof a whisky is also very dependant of the age of a whisky as the phenol content diminishes with age

So if you are searching for a whisky with as much peat/smoke taste as possible, I would go for one of the NAS islays

As mentioned there is also some distilleries that has done some special productions of particular peaty whisky

Bruichladdich's Octomore
Ardbeg's Supernova

and finally I will mention the one I find the most peaty : Ballechin (from Edradour)

Tasting this put me right back to the same state as first time I had a Laphroaig :-)

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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby bredman » Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:11 am

To me the 'smokiest' whisky is Ardbeg 10, being a light whisky the smoke in the A10 can stink a house out from a glass.
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby ima poster » Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:54 am

To my mind, Laphroaig tastes like it has been filtered through a bag of burning John Innes. (This is a good thing, it is my favourite!)
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby Knolly » Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:47 am

Despite the phenol count, i find that the "big three" kind of each have their own profile.

I think when we talk about smokiest or peatiest, or whatever, there are subtle differences here that can be picked up. I mean, Laphroaig, Ardbeg and Lagavulin are all called smoky and peaty, but they are all quite different from each other. Even Octomor and Supernova (and slightly less Corry...) are different.

I find Lagavulin the "smokiest" in general. By this, i mean that it seems to be "mostly smoke".

Ardbeg has smoke, but also a peaty and tar like component to it along with a sweetness that's missing in the very "dry" Lagavulin.

Laphroaig has such a strong medicinal content to it that this overpowers its sense of pure "smokiness".

Of course, these are generalizations and depend upon the age, the profile and of course if and how the whisky was aged (i.e. in what type of cask). I do love them all and of course have my favorites, but they're not contained to one particular distillery. They all make great smoky whisky!
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby corbuso » Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:02 am

For me, the smokiest (and not the most peaty) is the Octomore 3_152
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby Lucas » Mon Jan 03, 2011 1:53 pm

Collector57 wrote:Ah well, I haven't tried the Octomore...yet :D


I have. Alongside both Supernovas. Pretty pointless, all of them. This whole 'smokiest' whisky contest pisses me off big time. No real merit in the juice.
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby lockejn » Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:50 pm

Collector57 wrote:I draw a distinction between peat and smoke and I often find Caol Ila the smokiest, wheres Ardbegs and Laphroaigs can be peatier.
Maybe it's just me making a false distinction though
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby The Third Dram » Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:53 pm

Lucas wrote:This whole 'smokiest' whisky contest pisses me off big time. No real merit in the juice.

Well, this IS an aspect of the 'smoky whisky conumdrum' that really does need to be emphasized.

Yes, there has been a spate of heavily peat-reeked (and very smoky) whiskies released of late. And there's no denying that, beyond the pungent and forceful nature of the spirits themselves, marketing hyperbole HAS played a prominent role.

But it's NOT just about the smoke!

For me (and many), the most important aspect of a smoky whisky is how well that smokiness intertwines with the intrinsic, core elements of the distillate (primarily the flavour characteristics derived from other processes such as barley, fermentation, mash, distillation protocols, maturation, etc. ) to create a balanced and, hopefully, complex (at least attractive) flavour profile.
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby Willie JJ » Mon Jan 03, 2011 4:20 pm

The Third Dram wrote:
Lucas wrote:This whole 'smokiest' whisky contest pisses me off big time. No real merit in the juice.

there's no denying that, beyond the pungent and forceful nature of the spirits themselves, marketing hyperbole HAS played a prominent role.

I entirely agree that the hype has completely overstated the merits of these whiskies. Octomore is really not working for me to the point where I don't even attempt to look for the new releases now (they seem to find me anyway) and I'd rather have an A10 than a Supernova any day of the week.
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby Ganga » Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:04 pm

Collector57 wrote:I draw a distinction between peat and smoke and I often find Caol Ila the smokiest, wheres Ardbegs and Laphroaigs can be peatier.
Maybe it's just me making a false distinction though


Nope, you're not the only one. And I also look at the differences in the way the smoke reveals itself. Bowmore comes off more like a wood smoke instead of peat smoke.

Lucas wrote:]This whole 'smokiest' whisky contest pisses me off big time. No real merit in the juice.


I really don't get the attraction to Supernova nor to Octomore. For young peated whiskies I'd much rather have 7-9 yo CIs and Laphroaigs.
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby dramtastic » Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:30 pm

Collector57 wrote:I draw a distinction between peat and smoke



Same here
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby Knolly » Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:46 pm

Cool to know that all of us are kind of on the same program: that smoky whiskies really encompass a much larger range of flavours than simply "smoke" or "peat".

Sometimes this even changes drastically within the same distillery. I'm thinking of the Bruichladdich 3D releases: lots of peat and some smoke. Fast forward to Bruichladdich "PEAT" now which is strictly mostly smoke, with very little peat profile (and frankly, a whisky i like a lot less than the original 3D series).

And, while not a huge fan of any of the super peated whiskies, I have really enjoyed the Octomor on occasion, especially the sherried one that came out just over a year ago. Yum! Just don't plan to be able to taste anything after it for the next 24 - 36 hours!
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby MacDeffe » Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:28 am

I find several kind of smoky flavours in whiskies, I do think all of them originate from the peat thou

Medicinal and smoke is the 2 variants I find most different. I always found Laphroaig medicinal and Lagavulin more like licking an ashtray (I mean that positive)

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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby Fscott » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:22 pm

Great responses. Very educational. I will now try to distinguish between peaty and smoky. Maybe Ardbeg 10 vs. Lagavulin 16?
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby Knolly » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:14 am

Fscott wrote:Great responses. Very educational. I will now try to distinguish between peaty and smoky. Maybe Ardbeg 10 vs. Lagavulin 16?


You can't go wrong with the basics for sure. If you're feeling ambitious, throw in either Laphroaig 10 (medicinal) or Laphroaig Quarter Cask (still somewhat medicinal, but with a very ashy component) in the tasting mix as well!

Or, you could just jump into the deep end and pick up Ardbeg Uigeadail, Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength and Lagavulin 12yo: the Uigeadail and the 10y CS have a bit of sweetness to them, but all three of them are awesome cask strength whiskies and very, very different. Yum - Yum!!!

:D
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby Jobi » Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:57 am

Collector57 wrote:I draw a distinction between peat and smoke and I often find Caol Ila the smokiest


Agreed.
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby DavidUK » Sat Jan 15, 2011 11:28 pm

Fscott wrote:Great responses. Very educational. I will now try to distinguish between peaty and smoky. Maybe Ardbeg 10 vs. Lagavulin 16?


Any differences you find between peaty and smoky will be purely imaginary as they are exactly the same thing. The barley is dried by burning peat which produces an intense smoke which infuses itself into the barley in a similar way that you clothes might smell of smoke after a night in a smoky pub.

Obviously you will fnd differences between various peaty/smoky whiskies but this is NOT because ne is 'peaty' and the other 'smoky'.

Springbank's Longrow is intensely peaty. Just as much as the Islays
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby AdamMY » Sun Jan 16, 2011 1:04 am

DavidUK wrote:Any differences you find between peaty and smoky will be purely imaginary as they are exactly the same thing. The barley is dried by burning peat which produces an intense smoke which infuses itself into the barley in a similar way that you clothes might smell of smoke after a night in a smoky pub.

Obviously you will fnd differences between various peaty/smoky whiskies but this is NOT because ne is 'peaty' and the other 'smoky'.

Springbank's Longrow is intensely peaty. Just as much as the Islays


Correct me if I am wrong, but in my understanding surprising as it may be many whisky's pick up some flavors from the water used all throughout the process. As I have heard Bushmills tends to have a unique taste acquired from its water source, I believed it would be possible for peat flavors to be picked up in the water used mainly by Islay whisky's.

Although I am not disagreeing with you that in the sense of the burning of peat to dry the barely, any flavor imparted to the barely in that instance should be called one thing.
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby dramtastic » Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:54 am

Collector57 wrote:
DavidUK wrote:Any differences you find between peaty and smoky will be purely imaginary as they are exactly the same thing.

I completely disagree.
Try sniffing some peat compost, then burn it and sniff it. Entirely different things.

Some malts seem to retain the smoke from peat, others the peat itself dominates and that isn't surprising given the different types of peat, the many different phenols involved and the fermentation, distillation and maturation processes that could change some of the phenols but not others.


Thanks Nick. I was going to post something myself but I had a sneaking suspicion that you'd jump in and say it far more convincingly than I could. :thumbsup:
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby The Third Dram » Sun Jan 16, 2011 6:59 pm

Collector57 wrote:Some malts seem to retain the smoke from peat, others the peat itself dominates and that isn't surprising given the different types of peat, the many different phenols involved and the fermentation, distillation and maturation processes that could change some of the phenols but not others.

Exactly. Even disregarding differences in fermentation, distillation and maturation protocols for the moment (and concentrating solely on the burning of peat during the malting process), one encounters an almost bewildering array of variations:
1. Region from which the peat is harvested: Is it dug from an inland deforested bog area where the peat contains a higher proportion of lignins or from a coastal bog area where greater quantities of sphagnum predominate?
2. Depth at which the peat is cut.
3. Degree to which the peat is dried prior to combustion (it's always fairly dry, though).
4. Texture/consistency of the peat.
5. Percentage of peat relative to hot air utilized during the malting process.
6. Percentage of peat relative to other combustible materials (e.g. coal/coke).
7. Length of time of smoke drying of the barley.
8. Type of maltings floor or operation (manual or mechanized).
9. Type of ventilation utilized in maltings (affecting air exchange parameters).
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby Dulahey » Fri Feb 04, 2011 11:20 pm

The Third Dram wrote:
Collector57 wrote:Some malts seem to retain the smoke from peat, others the peat itself dominates and that isn't surprising given the different types of peat, the many different phenols involved and the fermentation, distillation and maturation processes that could change some of the phenols but not others.

Exactly. Even disregarding differences in fermentation, distillation and maturation protocols for the moment (and concentrating solely on the burning of peat during the malting process), one encounters an almost bewildering array of variations:
1. Region from which the peat is harvested: Is it dug from an inland deforested bog area where the peat contains a higher proportion of lignins or from a coastal bog area where greater quantities of sphagnum predominate?
2. Depth at which the peat is cut.
3. Degree to which the peat is dried prior to combustion (it's always fairly dry, though).
4. Texture/consistency of the peat.
5. Percentage of peat relative to hot air utilized during the malting process.
6. Percentage of peat relative to other combustible materials (e.g. coal/coke).
7. Length of time of smoke drying of the barley.
8. Type of maltings floor or operation (manual or mechanized).
9. Type of ventilation utilized in maltings (affecting air exchange parameters).


Exactly.


And I also wanted to add what others have said before. I find a difference in Peaty and Smoky. I always tell people that Caol Ila 12 is the smokiest I've tried. And that is why it's my favorite.
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby Willie JJ » Fri Feb 04, 2011 11:38 pm

The Third Dram wrote:Even disregarding differences in fermentation, distillation and maturation protocols for the moment (and concentrating solely on the burning of peat during the malting process), one encounters an almost bewildering array of variations:
1. Region from which the peat is harvested: Is it dug from an inland deforested bog area where the peat contains a higher proportion of lignins or from a coastal bog area where greater quantities of sphagnum predominate?
2. Depth at which the peat is cut.
3. Degree to which the peat is dried prior to combustion (it's always fairly dry, though).
4. Texture/consistency of the peat.
5. Percentage of peat relative to hot air utilized during the malting process.
6. Percentage of peat relative to other combustible materials (e.g. coal/coke).
7. Length of time of smoke drying of the barley.
8. Type of maltings floor or operation (manual or mechanized).
9. Type of ventilation utilized in maltings (affecting air exchange parameters).

I totally agree. But, the factors you first mention make a huge difference too as seen by the gulf between Lagavuliin and Caol Ila which use the same malt peated to the same specification from the same source.
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby steveblack » Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:38 pm

Just out of curiosity, is there a whisky that is predominantly peaty with very little or no smokiness? Is that possible?....

Just to know what peaty is...
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby dramtastic » Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:32 pm

Off the top of my head
Nikka Pure Malt White
Hakushu 12
there are others of course.
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby steveblack » Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:54 pm

dramtastic wrote:Off the top of my head
Nikka Pure Malt White
Hakushu 12
there are others of course.


Thanks, I presume it is in reply to me. Is there a scotch that would meet the criteria? Japanese whiskies are difficult to get in here.
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby dramtastic » Wed Feb 09, 2011 8:28 pm

Check out the Live Tasting thread Steve. There may be some in the Keep the Peat Fires Burning Tasting.
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby Knolly » Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:35 am

steveblack wrote:Just out of curiosity, is there a whisky that is predominantly peaty with very little or no smokiness? Is that possible?....

Just to know what peaty is...


One of the best examples that I've had of a whisky like this was Bruichladdich's Moine Mhore 3D: it comes across as more peat and less "campfire". It's almost the exact opposite of say - a Lagavulin - which is almost all smoke with very little peat. Too bad the currently available Bruichladdich "PEAT" isn't the whisky that the 3D releases were... If you see a 3D kicking around, I would pick it up to check it out.

Cheers!
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby Spirit of Islay » Sun Feb 13, 2011 4:52 pm

For Smoky try Lagavulin New make rubbed between the palm of the hands on the tours , Unbelievable !
I think the first release of the Ardbeg Ten was one of the nicest , peatiest whiskies i've ever tried .
I not too keen on these "most peatiest" one's that Ardbeg and Laddie keep producing , The Committee Supernova was the best (tho a SMWS cask from the same batch was excellent) and they seem to have gone downhill with each release , did not enjoy the Octomores , too ash tray for me .

I would say it doesn't really matter which is the Smokiest/peatiest as long as you enjoy the dram .
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby solaris2014 » Fri Apr 11, 2014 9:21 am

I've just finished a 10 y.o. bottle of Ardbeg, and I must say, this is the peatiest, smokiest scotch I have had the pleasure of indulging in. I am reminded of the smelliest, most mud-soaked, seaweed infused, leathery mongrel dog ever as I swirl this luscious temperament into the very guts of my taste buds. Why does it taste so...good? I cannot comprehend it, it is beyond verbal understanding. I only know that I love it. And if you love peat and smoke, you will too.
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby bredman » Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:26 am

:o
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby Ganga » Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:30 pm

bredman wrote::o

We need a "Watchman Emoti" :mrgreen:
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby dimmer switch » Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:31 pm

trot12345 wrote:I've. With each Supernovas. Pretty needless, each of these people. This particular overall 'smokiest' whisky contest pisses you off of huge celebration. Not any authentic deserve within veggie veggie juice.


I'm new here and having a look around, but may I be bold enough to suggest that you should have posted your comment under the "Anyone Else Drunk?" topic. :wink:
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Re: Smokiest whisky?

Postby Ganga » Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:12 am

dimmer switch wrote:
trot12345 wrote:I've. With each Supernovas. Pretty needless, each of these people. This particular overall 'smokiest' whisky contest pisses you off of huge celebration. Not any authentic deserve within veggie veggie juice.


I'm new here and having a look around, but may I be bold enough to suggest that you should have posted your comment under the "Anyone Else Drunk?" topic. :wink:

:thumbsup:
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