Re: I'm confused, peat? Smoke?
I believe much of the confusion surrounding the characteristics of peat and smoke (which are sometimes interchangeable and sometimes apparently not) arises from a misunderstanding concerning how these characteristics can occur, primarily during the malting process.
As I've written in my most recent treatise on whisky:
"In the production of whisky, an essential key to the malting process is to arrest the germination of the barley grains at that precise moment when the conversion of starches to sugars has reached an optimum point. Any efficient system of circulating hot, dry air throughout the grains will do.
Why, then, use peat fires? ... It (peat) positively reeks when burned. And this characteristically pungent quality, when utilized during malting, permeates the partially germinated barley with a noticeable smokiness. Depending on the intensity of the peat-reek and subsequent distillation and maturation protocols, the smokiness will, to varying degrees, find its way right through to the whisky in the bottle."
However, as indicated in the first paragraph immediately above, there's more than one way to dry the barley. Producers may elect to simply use relatively smokeless (such as electrically generated) warm air. They may decide to use peat. But they also have the option of utilizing coal fires to dry the grain, possibly in tandem with one or both of the previous methods.
When you add the wide range of types of peat (varying from coastal to inland and from more vegetative - such as sphagnum - to more woody - such as those derived from old tree roots) that are available to the equation, you can see that peatiness and smokiness may, or may not, coincide with one another.
Try tasting a dram of Laphroaig and a dram of Longrow side by side. You'll immediately see the differences in smokiness between the two (with the former having a much more medicinal, kelp-like characteristic and the latter a more sooty trait).
And this isn't even taking into account the various degrees of phenolic 'infusion' that maltsters employ during the drying of the grains!