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Peat vs Smoke vs phenolic vs medicinal vs iodine

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Peat vs Smoke vs phenolic vs medicinal vs iodine

Postby charlano » Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:29 pm

I have few difficulties to make difference about all of these aromas/flavours. To me, peaty, smokey and phenolic all mean the same. Could someone explain to me what are the differences between these aromas/flavours ? I often hear that a whisky is peaty but not smokey, but to me, it makes no sense since it is the peat that is burnt. The opposite is also true.

The same is also true when we talk about medicinal and iodine in the whisky. What is the differences between these two aromas/flavours ?
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Re: Peat vs Smoke vs phenolic vs medicinal vs iodine

Postby lockejn » Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:18 pm

Here's my own personal take on things. I'm not remotely a pro (but I play one on the Internet):

Smoke is smoke. Like you'd get sticking your head over a barbecue pit or campfire.

Peat is the vegetal, earthy component that often goes along with smoke in whisky. As you say, this is because burning peat makes the smoke. In some cases, though, I just get smoke and I don't have any conjecture as to why. I rarely identify the peat component by itself, perhaps because I've never really been in the presence of raw peat. I suspect it may be behind the occasional "vegetal" essence I get from other whiskies (Springbank as a prime example).

Medicinal is sort of a broad generalization. It could mean iodine, or a certain plastic-y essence or it might describe more of a mouthfeel - a certain tingling or numbing distinct from that caused by high ABV. Iodine tends to be the predominant element here - particularly in heavily peated whiskies and very distinctly in Laphroaig. Sometimes it's reminiscent of bandages which seems a distasteful descriptor.
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Re: Peat vs Smoke vs phenolic vs medicinal vs iodine

Postby bbrownri » Fri Oct 23, 2009 12:26 am

I like the answers given so far. Speaking for myself, I think these are good descriptions of what I'm sensing when I use words like smoky and medicinal. I would just add that this is part and parcel of the perennial debate about what it means to taste different flavors in a whisky. At the end of the day, it's all just malt, water, yeast, peat and wood, but some people get the sensation of tastes like toffee and peaches and tobacco. I certainly get bogged down in trying to describe the flavors in my glass at times, but of course there's no right answer. :D
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Re: Peat vs Smoke vs phenolic vs medicinal vs iodine

Postby Reggaeblues » Fri Oct 23, 2009 12:44 am

Highland Park, and JW Green have a smoky element, perhaps a touch of peat, but not medicinal. Talisker more so.

Whereas Laphroaig especially, Ardbeg ,Lagavulin and Caol Ila also, have more extreme earthy peat, and barbecued kipper smoke, but are much more medicinal, as in TCP, bandages, hospitals...or in the case of Ardbeg, as my mother put it so scathingly eloquently "It smells like something you'd use to clean the toilet." :shock:

Ah, that would be "pine" you'd be getting on the nose there, mother! :o

Hope this helps!
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Re: Peat vs Smoke vs phenolic vs medicinal vs iodine

Postby Drammed » Fri Oct 23, 2009 2:54 am

Talisker 10 = smoke. I find myself remnded of BBQ'e eel everytime I drink some. To qualify this I live in BC and we get awesome sushi here!!!

Lagavuiln 16 = rich peat

Ardbeg 10 = vege peat

Laphroaig QC = Medicinal iodine. think hospital
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Re: Peat vs Smoke vs phenolic vs medicinal vs iodine

Postby dramtastic » Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:53 am

Here are few whisky's that I think, to a point, represent or possibly isolate the elements mentioned. Some will obviously cross over but to me one of the elements dominates.

Laphroaig: medicinal(plus other elements)
Ardbeg 10: tar, rubber,(plus other elements)
Longrow CV: Smoked meats, kippers
Benriach 10 Curiositas: Heavy campfire smoke
Yoichi 10/12/15: Peat
Karuizawa 17: Smoke and ashy dryness.

I should mention that the water used in Karuizawa's has been filtered through volcanic rock.
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Re: Peat vs Smoke vs phenolic vs medicinal vs iodine

Postby charlano » Fri Oct 23, 2009 12:44 pm

Wow, thank you guys for your answers !!! I'm supposed to do a degustation this week-end with a friend of mine who is a whisky enthousiast too. Last time we did so we tasted 17 different whiskies. At the end, we couldn't taste anything !

However this time we are particularly going to limit our tasting to 8 wiskies. Those will be pareticularly peaty/smokey wiskies and we have almost all of those you mentionned above.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but last time we did so, we both tasted the kind of medicinal thing in the Caol Ila 12Yo as well.

Charlano.
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Re: Peat vs Smoke vs phenolic vs medicinal vs iodine

Postby Alan Gold Label » Fri Oct 23, 2009 3:45 pm

Collector57 wrote:or carbolic soap, or TCP


TCP is what Connemara's Peated Malt tasted like to me. I could barely finish the half measure in my taster tray as I was having the sweats and palpitations!

I got a lot of charcoal in Talisker when I tried it last year.
Personally, not my cup of whisky really.
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Re: Peat vs Smoke vs phenolic vs medicinal vs iodine

Postby The Third Dram » Fri Oct 23, 2009 6:26 pm

charlano wrote:What are the differences between these two aromas/flavours ?

Do yourself a favour and buy Andrew Jefford's excellent PEAT SMOKE AND WHISKY (a treatise on Islay and its whiskies that has been available in soft cover for some time now)... Well worth settling into a comfortable chair with this book and something tasty alongside (and smoky-peaty!) to sip on.
:thumbsup:
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Re: Peat vs Smoke vs phenolic vs medicinal vs iodine

Postby Pure Pot Head » Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:29 pm

Last time we did so we tasted 17 different whiskies. At the end, we couldn't taste anything !


I love this quote :lol:

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Re: Peat vs Smoke vs phenolic vs medicinal vs iodine

Postby bjorn » Sat Oct 24, 2009 8:53 pm

I've been under the (perhaps false) impression that Laphroaig is an especially phenolic whisky, perhaps I identify phenols with iodine. I've always found Caol Illa to be somewhat grassy. Lagavulin tastes like barbecue to me these days. I got a distinct charcoal taste from my last (and only) bottle of Laphroaig QC, while Ardbeg often seems lighter (in a sense, like white wine) though also deeper (very full and rich with odd elements of permanent marker, anise, and gasoline.) Believe it or not, Ardbeg is my favorite of the 4 distilleries...
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Re: Peat vs Smoke vs phenolic vs medicinal vs iodine

Postby charlano » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:41 pm

What about seaweed ?
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Re: Peat vs Smoke vs phenolic vs medicinal vs iodine

Postby scribe » Thu Nov 19, 2009 6:28 pm

...and is it really possible to taste different kinds of peat, depending on the vegetable matter available in the area? Can you have flowery peat, as opposed to seaweedy peat?

Oh and hello - first post :)
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Re: Peat vs Smoke vs phenolic vs medicinal vs iodine

Postby The Third Dram » Thu Nov 19, 2009 7:46 pm

Welcome to the forums, scribe. :thumbsup:

scribe wrote:...and is it really possible to taste different kinds of peat, depending on the vegetable matter available in the area? Can you have flowery peat, as opposed to seaweedy peat?

Absolutely. When I think of "flowery" peat, the heather-imbued variety usitlized by Highland Park immediately comes to mind.
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