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Smokey/peaty question

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Smokey/peaty question

Postby tannor » Wed Mar 09, 2011 7:43 pm

I am fairly new to Single malts, and in general whisky. Only been drinking them for about 3 years, but in that time have only had a few different ones. Talisker, Highland Park, Bowmore, Glenlivet

I just picked up a bottle of Black Bottle no age Islay blend.

I think this might be the first time I have tried any islay. My question is it tastes totally different then anything I have had before.

Is it because of the peat/smokey taste? One thing I notice a taste almost like gasoline/rubber during one part of finish. I also notice bacon I think. I am not sure if that really describes it. It is not necessarily bad, it just totally different. Is this what I normally would taste from the Islay? I think Bowmore is islay but do not remember this at all, I think it was 12 year
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Re: Smokey/peaty question

Postby Drammed » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:15 pm

Welcome to the forums.

Black bottle is from Islay but it is a blended whisky. It is comprised of a sampling of 7 Islay distilleries mixed with grain alcohol so it is not a single malt. There is plenty of peat/smoke in the bottle but you should be used to that from the Talisker. Black bottle is also a little younger. Yes, most Islay single malts have more peat and smoke than the rest but there are at least 2 distilleries offering different choices and even non peated whisky. Bowmore does have an average level of peat with a very pronounced herbal quality in the 12 yr.
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Re: Smokey/peaty question

Postby tannor » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:19 pm

Interesting I have not had talisker in a while..I am going to have to try it again. I do not remember this much of peaty/smoke.

I remember Talisker being just more peppery and spicy I think.
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Re: Smokey/peaty question

Postby Drammed » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:40 pm

If you want to taste peat/smoke then you kind of have to decide which direction you want to go.

personal tasting notes so take them for what they are-

Ardbeg - peat with a dry citrus quality
Laphroaig - diesel, iodine, seaweed and medicinal
Lagavulin - dry, ashy on the tongue and more smokey than peat with the darker flavours that come with sherry maturation.
Caol Ila - vegetal peat with a salty/briney quality

hope that helps a little
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Re: Smokey/peaty question

Postby bredman » Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:42 am

As Drammed states the is much difference on Islay. Peat is measured in parts per million - ppm - the number quoted is before distillation.

Ardbeg - average 54 ppm.
Bowmore - average 25 ppm
Bruichladdich - 3-4 ppm ( PC 40 ppm )
Bunnahabhain - less than 2 ppm ( the peated at 38 ppm )
Caol Ila - average 35 ppm ( also the unpeated 0 ppm )
Lagavulin - 35 ppm
Laphroaig - 40-43 ppm.

As you can see there are obvious differences, also less obvious differences. Ardbeg and Laphroaig retain higher portions of phenols in the finished product. These Islay are all different, but Islay peat is different to non-Islay peat. I recommend you try Ardbeg 10 if you want to up your peat - it's simply the finest of the entry level ( cost wise ) bottlings, being a lighter spirit, and complex, the peat is unmistakeable.
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Re: Smokey/peaty question

Postby tannor » Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:48 am

Thanks everyone!

I guess maybe i get confused is peat and smoke the same or two different things all together?
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Re: Smokey/peaty question

Postby The Third Dram » Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:13 pm

As some of my colleagues have stated (or hinted at), there exists a wide range of aromas and flavours attributable to any malting process that incorporates peat (or other combustible substances) in order to achieve a peatiness and/or a smokiness in the whisky.

Are peatiness and smokiness one and the same thing? It all depends on the specific whisky in question. But generally, most here would assert that these two qualities are usually not identical.

The quality of the peat (that is, where it comes from and how deeply in the ground it has been dug, not to mention the use of other substances such as coal/coke) utilized, the duration of the infusion of the barley during the malting process, the specific characteristics of the malting operation (different buildings, for example) and the way in which the distillate tends to interact with those phenols (as well as the extent of maturation in cask) can all affect the final aroma-flavour spectrum of the whisky.

You're sure to discover an amazing range of aromas and flavours in various whiskies, largelly due to the above-mentioned factors.
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Re: Smokey/peaty question

Postby tannor » Fri Mar 11, 2011 2:19 am

Well I just got back from cigar bar here, and had a glass of Lagavulin 16

It was excellent! Sort of reminded me of Talisker.


The thing is was much better then Black Bottle, which is expected for price, but The Black Bottle I have the taste is really very difference, I don't know maybe it is that gasoline / medcinal flavor I am getting from Black Bottle.

I need to have some now soon after to get a comparison.
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