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Unpeated whiskies

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Unpeated whiskies

Postby Admiral » Wed Oct 13, 2004 4:46 am

I'm looking to compile a list of single malts that are known to be entirely unpeated.

The only one that comes to mind quickly for me is Glengoyne, but I'm sure there are others.

Can my esteemed and knowledgeable colleagues on these pages assist?

Many thanks,
Admiral
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Postby lexkraai » Wed Oct 13, 2004 7:23 am

Hi Admiral

Glengoyne jumps to mind straightaway of course, as you say. Bushmills is another and IIRC Hazelburn is also unpeated (if I'm wrong in this, someone please correct me!).

If I suddenly think of others, I will add them!
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Postby susywong » Wed Oct 13, 2004 9:35 am

just reading an article on Auchentoshan, and it's unpeated too.

If i remember correctly, Glenfiddich also use unpeated malt, but i'm not 100% sure on that one.

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Postby Ash » Wed Oct 13, 2004 5:03 pm

I thought Glen Grant did too. I may be wrong. In fact, I usually am. :roll:
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Postby BruceCrichton » Wed Oct 13, 2004 6:07 pm

How about Bunnahabhain?

I had heard that was unpeated.
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Postby Frodo » Wed Oct 13, 2004 8:43 pm

Bushmills, as well as Killbegan, Locke's, and Tyrconnell.
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Postby Frodo » Wed Oct 13, 2004 8:46 pm

Longrow....


Just seeing if you're paying attention :P :P :P :P :P .
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Postby Admiral » Thu Oct 14, 2004 4:38 am

Bruce,

My understanding is that Bunnahabhain is actually peated, but just no where near to the extent that its neighbours are.

To put numbers to it, whereas malts like Lagavulin or Ardbeg may be peated to phenol levels of around 35-50ppm, Bunnahabhain is more around the 2-3ppm.

I'm only interested in the scottish single malts, (sorry Frodo :D ), so at this stage, it seems we can confirm Glengoyne & Auchentoshan.

In response to Susywong, I would be surprised if it is confirmed that Glenfiddich is entirely unpeated. The older bottlings (i.e. Ancient) seem to display a hint of peat, but certainly no more or less than, say, Bunnahabhain.
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Postby susywong » Thu Oct 14, 2004 8:03 am

The vast majority of whiskies are actually unpeated, as the type of barley most distilleries use is called "Highland Malt" and is unpeated. This is the specification asked for by the distilleries when they are buying their barley from the maltings.

Having visited a maltings, it would be interesting to find out how much peat essence is used on a yearly basis- i doubt it would be very much!

I have it on good authority that Glenfiddich do use unpeated malt, as do Bunnahabhain.
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Postby Admiral » Thu Oct 14, 2004 8:35 am

Hmmm....I'm sure I read somewhere that Bunnahabhain had some peat - that's where I pulled the 2-3ppm from.

I suppose it's possible that - particularly with Bunnahabhain on Islay - any peat (measured in phenols) in the whisky could come from the water, rather than peat smoke during the malting process?

Susywong...I'm happy to accept your authority! Thanks for the info! :)

Cheers,
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Postby Admiral » Thu Oct 14, 2004 1:27 pm

OK, I'm at home now, and I've just checked out one of my books.

The following comes from Jim Murray's "The Complete Guide To Whisky", published 1997:

"The lightest Islay has to offer is Bunnahabhain which uses malt that is all but unpeated, at around 2ppm phenols compared to Lagavulin's 35, and pipes water in from a small loch so that it has no chance to pick up nutrients from the bogs which abound in the area."

When describing Glenfiddich in the same book, JM mentions tasting peat in the 21yo, the 30-plus, and the 15yo cask strength. When speaking of the 15yo cask strength, he says, "But in the end, there is the peat, though heaven knows from where it stems. The barley is all but peat-free, but the water may have a little say in the matter."

Interestingly, from the same book, JM advises that standard Littlemill was peated, but that they made an experimental malt called Dunglass which was unpeated. (Dunglass was actually released recently and scored in JM's Whisky Bible. From memory, it received the lowest score in the whole book with something like 17!)

Cheers,
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Postby susywong » Thu Oct 14, 2004 2:36 pm

Hi Admiral,

Don't believe everything you read!! :wink: If you compare JM's whisky book to that of say, Micheal Jackson and David Stirk, you'll find glaring differences. Who's right and who's wrong???

Not sure if JM is right on the Bunna, but I have it on the word of the Glenfiddich distillery manager (a friend of mine) that they use unpeated malt.

Anyway, in the end, as long as the dram in your hand tastes good, who cares about ppm???

Susan
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:59 pm

susywong wrote:Having visited a maltings, it would be interesting to find out how much peat essence is used on a yearly basis- i doubt it would be very much!

Peat Essence ? :? :shock:
Oh this must be a namby pamby mainland / Speyside thing ....... where proper malts come from they use the real thing , peat thrown on a fire , Get yourself over to Islay and see how a real Maltings works (whether its the Port Ellen Maltings or the Laphroaig / Bowmore Floor Maltings ) .
:D
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Postby BruceCrichton » Thu Oct 14, 2004 8:35 pm

susywong wrote:Hi Admiral,

Don't believe everything you read!! :wink: If you compare JM's whisky book to that of say, Micheal Jackson and David Stirk, you'll find glaring differences. Who's right and who's wrong???

Not sure if JM is right on the Bunna, but I have it on the word of the Glenfiddich distillery manager (a friend of mine) that they use unpeated malt.

Anyway, in the end, as long as the dram in your hand tastes good, who cares about ppm???

Susan


Given his answers in the Whisky game, it will probably be David Stirk that is wrong. :twisted:

I can confirm that the Distillery manager at Glenfiddich is a friend of Susan's so Glenfiddich is definitely unpeated. :idea:

Susan is right about the taste, as well. If you can't taste the peat, then what difference does the actual level of peat make?
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Postby Admiral » Thu Oct 14, 2004 10:10 pm

I thought the excerpts I provided from JM's book actually reinforced and confirmed Susan's comments, so I'm in agreement anyway! :)

Besides, both excerpts hint that phenols can be extracted from the water, not necessarily only from peatsmoke during malting.

It's funny though....it appears from people's contributions above that numerous distilleries are "unpeated", but it is still only Glengoyne who make a public fuss about it.

Cheers,
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Peating levels

Postby dstirk » Fri Oct 15, 2004 8:32 am

:twisted:

Bruce, to quote Guns n Roses "Are you trying to antagonise me?"

Seriously though, this is an extremely interesting subject for me. Whilst researching my book, which does have a few glaring mistakes (heck all books do), I tried to get peating levels out of distillers, but was told, for the most part 'we use a lightly peated Highland Malt' or words to that effect.

Although I cannot substantiate anything with real hard evidence, I would say that most (90% or more) of the malt whiskies made today are unpeated. There are those that claim to be 100% unpeated like Glengoyne (although notice they havec now changed their marketing slant) and Hazelburn - but due to the fact that most tasters detect a degree of smokiness in these whiskies leads me to believe that smokiness, or eathiness (or any other flavour linked to Phenols) is not 100% derived from the kilning process.

Actually, it really annoys me when I hear people criticising others for detecting such a flavour saying things like 'oh no, there is no smokiness in our whisky - we use unpeated barley for a smoother flavour' - what utter nonsense.

As for Islay peat being made with the 'real hard stuff' and Speysiders using essence, I would bet a fair whack of money that at least one Islay distillery* does not use 100% peat to obtain its smokiness. Remember that not all of the Islay malt comes from Port Ellen Maltings, and very little malt is actually prepared 'traditionally'.

I think this is an area for Whisky Mag to step in and commission a really in-depth look at maltings - not some wishy-washy look at how it is done 'traditionally' by the likes of Springbank (after all you can visit them and see exactly how it is done, no skeletons in the cupboard of that place - a few cobwebs perhaps), but a really good explanation of how Drum and Saladin maltings work, and how much peat 'essence', peat and other materials are used in the process.

Gosh, that's a lot of writing for this time of the morning!

Cheers

David

* one distillery actually boasted of their 'revolutionary use of peat'
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Postby Iain » Fri Oct 15, 2004 8:58 am

Re Bunna - I have heard from a horse's (or should that be an old lag's?) mouth that SuzyW and her friend at GF are quite correct - at least one manager at Bunna (a man with strong Speyside connections) didn't use peat. I don't know if that is always the case nowadays.

How about adding The Glenlivet to the list of unpeated malts?

Although if David S is correct, perhaps we should be listing the peated malts as the exceptions!
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Re: Peating levels

Postby BruceCrichton » Fri Oct 15, 2004 12:53 pm

dstirk wrote::twisted:

Bruce, to quote Guns n Roses "Are you trying to antagonise me?"

Cheers

David

* one distillery actually boasted of their 'revolutionary use of peat'


Would I do that? :P

Next, you'll be saying that I ruin your jokes. 8)

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Postby Lawrence » Fri Oct 15, 2004 5:21 pm

Why don't you ask some of the commercial malt houses? I know it's a long shot but they might tell you, it's worth the price of an email.
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Re: Peating levels

Postby Spirit of Islay » Fri Oct 15, 2004 6:17 pm

dstirk wrote:


As for Islay peat being made with the 'real hard stuff' and Speysiders using essence, I would bet a fair whack of money that at least one Islay distillery* does not use 100% peat to obtain its smokiness. Remember that not all of the Islay malt comes from Port Ellen Maltings, and very little malt is actually prepared 'traditionally'.



So getting back to the question "Peat Essence ?" or what the hell is it ? Also are you prepared to name names of "at least one Islay distillery* does not use 100% peat to obtain its smokiness" ?

I've twice toured Port Ellen Malting (lovely bloke John Thompson ), never seen any large mysterious vessels marked "Essence of Peat" , seen an extremely large pile of peat that is gradually put onto a fire that is then blown into the drying drum ......
Same at Bowmore and Laphroaig seen the peat put on the fires that is then blown into the kilns . Bowmore's peat is shredded before it is put into the fire to use less (save the beds ) but still gives the same amount of peatiness (could this be the revolutionary use of peat ?) . Regarding the origins of the malted barley on Islay my understanding was that all the distilleries have to take some of their malt from the PE Maltings in line with an agreement signed when the maltings were first opened though i do know for a fact that Simpsons supply some to Bunnahabhain and i think (but don't quote me !) Bowmore . Also Bruichladdich sourced their malt for the Octomore from the mainland , on one of the tours of the Maltings it was explained to us that it was hard for the maltings to guarantee a continual source of high quality malting of barley above a certain ppm . Also when we were in the control room everybody on the tour noticed a silo of malt marked "Highland Malt " which when pressed they eventually told us was for a non-peated version of Caol Ila .

Regarding the effect the peatiness of the supply water has on the finished product , everyone i've talked to in the "Business" seems to have the opinion that it has none or very little , including a lot of people on Islay !

While writing this it has suddenly sprung to mind what "Peat essence " is , is it what you dab behind your ears when your drinking Speyside malts to give the illusion your drinking the good stuff ? LOL!
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Postby hpulley » Fri Oct 15, 2004 10:00 pm

By the definition of essence, "An extract that has the fundamental properties of a substance in concentrated form or such an extract in a solution of alcohol," I'd say that peated whisky is a solution of alcohol containing burned peat, which is the essence of peat. So the notion of adding the essence of peat to whisky to make it peated seems like nonsense unless they are soaking the barley with whisky made from peat smoke or vatting some unpeated whisky with peated whisky, both cases of which would be a Catch-22!

Peat itself isn't really water soluble but perhaps raw peat could be dissolved in alcohol to make a solution for this peat essence of which you speak? You couldn't add that to legal whisky, of course, but might still be worth a little experiment between the medicine cabinet and the garden shed.

Harry
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Postby Ash » Mon Oct 18, 2004 9:57 am

Another one for the list

Scapa!

According to MJ Volume 4 anyway.
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Re: Peating levels

Postby Ash » Mon Oct 18, 2004 10:18 am

Spirit of Islay wrote:Regarding the origins of the malted barley on Islay my understanding was that all the distilleries have to take some of their malt from the PE Maltings in line with an agreement signed when the maltings were first opened though i do know for a fact that Simpsons supply some to Bunnahabhain and i think (but don't quote me !) Bowmore . Also Bruichladdich sourced their malt for the Octomore from the mainland , on one of the tours of the Maltings it was explained to us that it was hard for the maltings to guarantee a continual source of high quality malting of barley above a certain ppm . Also when we were in the control room everybody on the tour noticed a silo of malt marked "Highland Malt " which when pressed they eventually told us was for a non-peated version of Caol Ila .

Regarding the effect the peatiness of the supply water has on the finished product , everyone i've talked to in the "Business" seems to have the opinion that it has none or very little , including a lot of people on Islay !

While writing this it has suddenly sprung to mind what "Peat essence " is , is it what you dab behind your ears when your drinking Speyside malts to give the illusion your drinking the good stuff ? LOL!
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Its my understanding that all of the Islay distilleries source 99% of their barley from east coast maltsters. Its the only way to maintain continuity of supply and consistency of ppm. All that traditional maltings stuff looks good for the tourists though, and that's what its all about. :wink:

There have been several threads on this forum in the past about the peatiness of water and the conclusion is that it makes no difference. It makes good copy for the marketeers though.
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Re: Peating levels

Postby Spirit of Islay » Mon Oct 18, 2004 6:29 pm

Its my understanding that all of the Islay distilleries source 99% of their barley from east coast maltsters. Its the only way to maintain continuity of supply and consistency of ppm.

If Port Ellen maltings has moved to the East Coast then yes !
I would say Ardbeg , Lagavulin and Caol Ila source 100% from PE maltings , Laphroaig mix own floor with PE maltings , Bowmore mix own floor / Simpsons and i think PE , as for the rest anyones guess
!
Still no ones told me what Peat essence is , Come on Susan and David i'm waiting.....

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Re: Peating levels

Postby Ash » Mon Oct 18, 2004 6:52 pm

Spirit of Islay wrote:
Its my understanding that all of the Islay distilleries source 99% of their barley from east coast maltsters. Its the only way to maintain continuity of supply and consistency of ppm.

If Port Ellen maltings has moved to the East Coast then yes !
I would say Ardbeg , Lagavulin and Caol Ila source 100% from PE maltings , Laphroaig mix own floor with PE maltings , Bowmore mix own floor / Simpsons and i think PE , as for the rest anyones guess
!
Still no ones told me what Peat essence is , Come on Susan and David i'm waiting.....

Slainté
Gordon


I'm sorry, Gordon, its just not possible. Islay is only 20 miles by 20 mles, with a windswept wet climate. The island just could not produce sufficient barley to sustain 7 full-on distilleries. And thats before we get to consistency and continuity. I'm sure the PE maltings make a token gesture, but I think you will find that the vast majority of the millions of litres of spirit produced on islay every year is distilled from east coast barley.
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Postby hpulley » Mon Oct 18, 2004 6:56 pm

Time out, guys. Who says east coast barley isn't malted in Port Ellen's kiln? The barley isn't local but the peating is.

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Postby Spirit of Islay » Mon Oct 18, 2004 7:25 pm

Your exact phrase was "Its my understanding that all of the Islay distilleries source 99% of their barley from east coast maltsters" , this in my eyes implies they are buying their malted barley from east coast maltsters ( Maltings), which a majority don't . Where PE Maltings source their barley ( usually from the borders area AFAIK ) is another question . Sounds like i'm being picky but thats the way it read to me .
So where does this Peat essence come from then ? :wink:

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Postby Admiral » Wed Oct 27, 2004 4:15 am

As an interesting twist to this thread, I wonder if people can think of any malts that have a hint of peat, or a whisp of smoke, and yet have been identified or are known to be unpeated?
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Postby hpulley » Wed Oct 27, 2004 12:00 pm

I hear the latest Ardbeg Committee bottling will be a 24yo 'Kildalton' style unpeated Ardbeg.

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Postby Admiral » Wed Oct 27, 2004 1:07 pm

I recall this was once discussed in the past, but I'm still amused (or confused?) about the term "Kildalton Style" for an unpeated Ardbeg.

The three Kildalton distilleries (Ardbeg, Laphroaig, and Lagavulin) are generally famed as the peatiest of the Islay malts, so why would they have coined the term "Kildalton style" to describe an unpeated or very lowly peated Ardbeg? If nothing else, it's a little ironic. (Maybe that was the idea?)

A quick search through the web revealed one site (http://www.whisky-distilleries.info) that describes the "Kildalton style" as a lowly peated Ardbeg made between 1979 and 1981. The paragraph is repeated verbatim on one or two other sites, suggesting that there was one original source for the explanation, and then other sites have copied it.

I wonder if there is anything official from Ardbeg that actually describes or explains the "Kildalton style" and the origin of the term?

Cheers,
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Postby lexkraai » Wed Oct 27, 2004 1:16 pm

I can confirm the 24 y.o. 'Kildalton' Ardbeg as the latest committee bottling. Costs £95 + p&p.

Cheers, Lex
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Postby Admiral » Wed Oct 27, 2004 1:33 pm

95 pounds???

At just shy of $300 in my currency, I don't think I'll be signing up for that one in a hurry. :(

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Postby BruceCrichton » Wed Oct 27, 2004 1:36 pm

I believe the vintage is 1980 but that's still too much for me. :(
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Postby lexkraai » Wed Oct 27, 2004 1:38 pm

It's a 1980 vintage indeed and it's out of my league as well, alas!

Cheers, Lex
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Postby Admiral » Tue Nov 02, 2004 10:57 am

I said,

I wonder if there is anything official from Ardbeg that actually describes or explains the "Kildalton style" and the origin of the term?



Well, I received my Committee Minutes in the mail today, and it indeed describes the "Kildalton" Ardbeg.

(Presumably the same source you guys had, albeit a week before those of us on the other side of the world! :) )

Interestingly, the feature explains that the small batches of unpeated and lightly peated malt were made for just "a few brief weeks back in 1980". This is a somewhat different explanation than the other descriptions I sourced on the web which advised that unpeated Ardbegs were made between 1979 and 1981.

Shame about the price tag still. :(

Cheers,
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