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Peaty vs. Smokey

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Peaty vs. Smokey

Postby anajulia » Sat Dec 03, 2005 1:48 pm

Please, help the newbie understand.

I know what smokey tastes like, but what does peaty taste like? Are they the same?

Thanks,

Ana Julia
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Postby Tom » Sat Dec 03, 2005 3:22 pm

Interesting, usually it is the other way around. For the taste of peat it is very simple, try an Ardbeg, Lagavulin or Laphroaig. That's peat for you. It is very hard to actually explain how a flavor tastes like. The only proper way is to experience it. The closest comparison I can come up with is earthy tones.

Usually any peaty whisky is also smoky since the malt is imbedded with peatsmoke, however sometimes the malt is smoked yet not enough to bring forth pronounced peat, this in addition with for example bourbon matured whisky can bring forth woodsmoke because the casks are charred. Age also brings forth smoky flavors it seems, as many well aged malts have a smoky undertone that covers the malt. It seems smoke is usually a refined sensation whereas peat is heavy and moody. The best head to head for this difference would be an Ardmore wich is quite smoky versus an Ardbeg wich is very peaty.

Hope this is for some use to you, it is hard to explain.
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peaty v. smokey

Postby anajulia » Sat Dec 03, 2005 7:53 pm

Tom,

I've had all 3, but I guess only by comparison I could tell.

Can you name a couple of non-peaty whiskies I could try alongside any of those 3, that will make the peaty taste obvious?

Is Macallan peaty at all? Is Highland Park? I HP at home, as well as the 3 you mentioned.

Thanks,

Ana Julia
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Postby Tom » Sat Dec 03, 2005 8:44 pm

Ana Julia, If you had all 3 of the peatreeking, no nonsense, we-take-no-prisoners, uncompromisingly heavy peated malts from Islay and still dont know what peat tastes like, I suspect you have a blind spot for peat. In other words you simply can not smell it. This phenomenom is not rare, it has a name wich I cant recall right away. Either that, or you are a heavy smoker. Anyway I'm just guessing here, though this would not be the first time I come across someone with peat blindness.

All distilleries in Scotland use peated malt for their whisky, be it that most use it in tiny quantities. All but one: Glengoyne. So you could have a Glengoyne next to one of the 3 Islays, Other then that most whiskies dont have peat in the nose though, maybe a standard bottling of Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Dalmore, Glenrothes but once more Glengoyne 10 would do the trick. You do make a valid point however, peat makes itself much more present if you have an "appetiser" first, an unpeated malt to warm up the palate.

Macallan uses slightly peated malt yes, but it is cloaked by the sherry influence. Highland park uses more peat though and if you give it a try you should be able to detect it, specially in the 12.

If you are a heavy smoker, I bet that's your problem. I smoked alot before too and I know from experience that smoking WILL affect peat perception. Try not to smoke 2 hours before sampling and see if it helps.

Do let us know what you think of this and how you proceed, I am intruiged by this.
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Postby lambda » Sat Dec 03, 2005 8:56 pm

Some people call those three 'smoky' rather than 'peated'. I don't think there's really a clear distinction between the two. They both fall in the same category and it depends on the taster how she classifies the whisky (peaty,smoky,medicinal,tar). For example, I usually call a whisky smoky if it is a form of peatiness that reminds me of tobacco, but like most tasting notes, this is highly subjective.
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Postby hpulley » Sun Dec 04, 2005 1:30 am

Some Craigellachie, Ardmore and Glen Garioch bottlings are smoky without being peaty. There are others which are sometimes peaty without being that smoky and Talisker and Ledaig often fall into that category for me.

As suggested above, if you just want to detect peat and smoke compared to none, pour an Ardbeg and a Glengoyne or Rosebank which are unpeated. Bladnoch is lowland but I often detect a hint of peat in it.

Harry
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Postby MGillespie » Sun Dec 04, 2005 2:58 am

Here's a suggestion, too...try a Talisker and an Ardbeg side by side...

The Talisker should be smokier, IMHO, and the Ardbeg peatier...

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peaty vs. smokey

Postby anajulia » Sun Dec 04, 2005 3:29 am

Tom,

I've never smoked in my life.

But I must admit that I have trouble noticing significant differences in every new whisky I taste. I actually taste more similarities than differences. Maybe that's my focus.

In the last few weeks I've been buying a bottle of whisky per week and drinking 3 quarters of it by the end of the week. I've been saving the last quarter for "reference". At some point I'll go back to revisit these whiskies and try to do a side by side comparison.

i do notice differences in tastes, but most importantly for me, I notice the difference in how the same whisky tastes to me at different times. Like, the first time I have it, I usually don't enjoy it as much as I do by the second or third day, when, of all a sudden, it just blows me away.
The first time, I just don't notice much flavor of any kind, but then it seems to open up.

Last week it was Bruichladdich, which left me so cold at first, that I considered giving away the bottle and rushing to the store to buy a different one. By the end of the week I was enjoying it so much that I thought it was the best I'd had..

Here's what I've had since last month: Highland Park 12, Lagavullin 16, Talisker 10, Bruichladdich 10. I didn't love any of them at first, but I loved all of them at the end.

Am I weird?

I'm starting a bottle of Clynelish 14 now. I had it for the first time yesterday and, as usual, was not very impressed - tasted too much like "honey". Let's see how it goes tonight.

I don't know Tom, I guess I'm too busy enjoying this stuff to notice the peat. But one day, just to "complete my education" I'm going to do a side by side comparison of peated and non-peated whiskies, and finally get it right.

Thanks,

Ana Julia
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Dec 04, 2005 6:14 am

hpulley wrote:There are others which are sometimes peaty without being that smoky and Talisker and Ledaig often fall into that category for me.


mgillespie wrote:The Talisker should be smokier, IMHO, and the Ardbeg peatier...


Glad we cleared that up.
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Postby Tom » Sun Dec 04, 2005 10:34 am

Hi ana, You're not weird at all. Your points are all pretty valid, Whisky tends to open up after a while. Though there doesnt seem to be a rule of thumb, sometimes it turns even worse then the initial taste.

As for smoke/peat, I am sure you will find your way, like we all did sooner or later. Like noted above, this is pretty subjective. Although peat is peat IMO, much like oranges taste like oranges. Smoke is harder to analyze. However it looks like you are doing a lot of efforts to learn for yourself. Thats great, have fun in your never ending journey in discovering the fantastic world of flavors and aroma's in whisky! :lol:
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Postby hpulley » Sun Dec 04, 2005 1:59 pm

MrTattieHeid wrote:
hpulley wrote:There are others which are sometimes peaty without being that smoky and Talisker and Ledaig often fall into that category for me.


mgillespie wrote:The Talisker should be smokier, IMHO, and the Ardbeg peatier...


Glad we cleared that up.


Yep, probably the best thing one can take away from discussions like this is not every person detects the same things and not every bottle is the same when talking about whiskies unless you're talking single cask.

For reference, I smoked for ten years, cigarettes, pipes and cigars but gave it up ten years ago so I'd say I'm VERY sensitive to smoke. Nobody detects smoke like an ex-smoker.

Harry
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Dec 04, 2005 6:34 pm

Harry, I've never smoked, and I don't have the keenest of noses, but I know when the guy in the car in front of me on the highway is smoking.

Anajulia's question is hard for me to understand, because the peaty/smoky nose and flavor in Ardbeg, Laphroaig, and Lagavulin seem so obvious to me. It's just another odd and interesting tidbit in the amazing subjective world of whisky. I do recall that it took me a very long time to start to be able to distinguish various flavors in a dram, but it was Lagavulin that reached up out of the glass and smacked me upside the head.

I tend to use the terms "smoky" and "peaty" interchangeably. When I detect smoke, it's almost always peat smoke (and it helps to have smelled the real thing in situ). When it does not have the character of peat smoke, I find it unpleasant--Glenfiddich Caoran, which smells of woodsmoke to me, comes to mind. I'm not at all sure how you can get peat flavor without smoke--the smoke is how it gets into the malt. Sometimes it's earthier or "dirtier" than others, but it's still smoke. (And before anyone can say "from the water", I simply don't believe it.)
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Postby hpulley » Sun Dec 04, 2005 6:37 pm

Some distilleries used to use (a few still do use) coal fired stills. Wood was another possibility. Any aggressively dried barley not heated using peat could smoke giving a smoky, grainy note if the heat was too high.

Harry
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Dec 04, 2005 7:25 pm

Harry, I don't think the heat source for the still would matter--did I misunderstand you?

I saw Balvenie malt being dried over coal, which I was told is virtually smoke-free.
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Peaty vs. Smokey

Postby Bob & Jill » Sun Dec 04, 2005 9:40 pm

Ana Julia, We just found this whisky forum today and thought we would jump in with a few comments since we have had similar tasting experiences to yours.

As a change of pace from the usual one pint flask of whisky that we always take with us on our annual 3-week wilderness canoe trip to the northwoods of Canada, we decided to make it a whisky tasting trip with four flasks. All were from Islay including: 10-year Laphroaig, Ardbeg, & Black Bottle, and the inexpensive no-year McClelland’s. We had recently discovered a variety of Islay single malts and that’s all we wanted to drink because we thought nothing could beat the peaty smoke taste. We compared two or three a night in a blind tasting and pretty soon they were all tasting quite similar (except for the McClellan which had a very distinctive up front off-taste). Then in a bit we could no longer taste any smoky peat. All the 10-year olds tasted like typical very nice single malts. However, we were able to identify Ardbeg because it was hotter then the rest. (Though, two drops of water cut the heat and brought out the warmth and smoothness). Also, our choice of the best Scotch kept changing---we found the one we liked best the evening before was no where near as good on another evening. We too thought we were weird.

After we got home we discovered some very nice non-Islay malts and started sampling them—Highland Park, Vintage Orkney, Glen Farclas, and Glen Garioch. When we did a tasting with these first and then an Islay we found they brought out an EXPLOSION of peaty smoke in the Islay. Now if we want to enjoy Islay we always have a sip of something else first. We definitely agree with Tom on: “peat makes itself much more present if you have an "appetizer" first, an unpeated malt to warm up the palate.”

Have others discovered this too? So Ana, this phenomenon of not distinguishing peaty smoke might not be that you simply can not smell it, it might be that you are overwhelmed by it like we were.

In terms of what I like best, I have finally made some conclusions, Islay malts are my favorite and Orkneys are second best (I love the heather), but I can’t appreciate one without the other.
Jill
Bob & Jill, Boulder,Colorado

P.S. Thanks Lex van Oorspronk on your tip of “Lagavulin 16yr losing its smoky nose and taste” after being opened for a short period of time. We just bought one and will take care not to keep it too long.

Islay single malt tasting in the northwoods
(I tried to incert an image but I am not sure if it actually was done).
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Postby MGillespie » Sun Dec 04, 2005 10:22 pm

Welcome, Jill...thanks for joining us, and for your comments!

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Postby mar_mcdo » Sun Dec 04, 2005 11:08 pm

[quote="Tom"] All distilleries in Scotland use peated malt for their whisky, be it that most use it in tiny quantities. All but one: Glengoyne.

there are more than glengoyne that are unpeated...auchentoshan, scapa, tobermory from ledaig, hazelburn from springbank....probably a few more but dont spring to mind at the moment
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Dec 05, 2005 2:31 am

Yes--Glengoyne is just the one that makes a big deal of it.

Hey, Mark, what are you, the greeter? Now I have a picture of you (with your radio face) in my mind wearing a doorman's uniform. :lol: :P :lol:
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Postby MGillespie » Mon Dec 05, 2005 3:20 am

Getting ready for my post-broadcasting career working the door at Wal-Mart...

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Postby kallaskander » Mon Dec 05, 2005 9:45 am

Hi there,

a friend send me a table she made from the book of Misako Udo.

I made some additions I found in the internet.

Distillery Peat level
Aberfeldy middle range
Aberlour 2 ppm
Ardbeg malt around 55 ppm, variations from 45-65ppm, aim is 52+ppm, new make 23-24 ppm
Ardmore 10-15 ppm, 11 ppm in malt, 12 weeks unpeated malt in use
Auchentoshan non-peated
Auchroisk non-peated
Aultmore non-peated
Balblair non-peated
Balmenach non-peated
Balvenie k.A.
Ben Nevis 20 ppm
Benriach k.A.
Benrinnes k.A.
Benromach 8-10 and 30 ppm
Bladnoch k.A.
Blair Athol non-peated
Bowmore 20-25 ppm
Brora 7 ppm (1969-1983 40 ppm)
Bruichladdich 2-3ppm (formerly 8, in between 10 ppm, now 2ppm from the water.
“Port Charlotte” 40 ppm (New Make 20-25 ppm)
“Octomore” 129 ppm (2003), 80.5 ppm (2002) (New Make 46.4/29.6)
Bunnahabhain 1-2 ppm (38 ppm new peaty spirit since 1990ies)
Caol Ila smoke 28 ppm, 30-35 ppm
Caperdonich k.A.
Cardhu k.A.
Clynelish non-peated
Cragganmore 2 ppm
Craigellachie k.A.
Dailuaine non-peated
Dallas Dhu k.A.
Dalmore k.A.
Dalwhinnie k.A.
Deanston non-peated
Dufftown non-peated
Edradour k.A.
“Ballechin” from Edradour about 50ppm
Fettercairn k.A.
Glenallachie k.A.
Glenburgie k.A.
Glendronach k.A.
Glen Elgin non-peated
Glenfarclas 2 ppm
Glenfiddich k.A.
Glen Garioch non-peated
Glenglassaugh k.A.
Glengoyne non-peated
Glen Grant k.A.
Glengyle 7-8 ppm
Glenkinchie k.A.
Glenlivet 2-3 ppm
Glenlossie k.A.
Glenmorangie 2-3 ppm
Glen Moray k.A.
Glen Ord k.A.
Glenrothes k.A.
Glen Scotia k.A.
Glen Spey k.A.
Glentauchers k.A.
Glenturret k.A.
Glenugie k.A.
Glenury Royal k.A.
Highland Park 4ppm (malt 20 ppm, mixed with unpeated malt) malt is dried with heather peat mix for flavour
Imperial k.A.
Inchgower k.A.
Ben Wyvis non-peated
Isle of Arran k.A.
Isle of Jura 2 ppm
Kininvie 2 ppm
Kilchoman 40-60 ppm
Knockando k.A.
Knockdhu k.A.
Lagavulin 35-35 ppm, was 50 ppm for short time
Laphroaig 40-43 ppm target 35 ppm in green malt, barley 40 ppm
Linkwood k.A.
Littlemill k.A.
Loch Lomond makes:
“Loch Lomond” about 2 ppm
“Croftengea” 40 ppm (most peated)
“Inchmoan” 40 ppm (2nd peated)
“Craiglodge” half Croftengea level, half normal (3rd peated)
“Old Rhosdhu” 4th peated
“Glen Douglas” 5th peated
“Inchmurrin” 6th peated
“Loch Lomond HP” 7th heavily peated
Longmorn low range
Macallan 1-1.5 ppm
Mannochmore low range
Miltonduff k.A.
Mortlach non-peated
North Port k.A.
Oban 20-25 ppm
Pittyvaich k.A.
Port Ellen 25 ppm, probably varying
Pulteney non-peated
Rosebank k.A.

Royal Brackla k.A.
Royal Lochnagar 1-2 ppm in the malt
St. Magdalene k.A.
Scapa non-peated malt, but peaty water source
Speyburn k.A.
Speyside/ Drumguish non-peated
Springbank 7-8 ppm (früher 15-20 ppm)
„Longrow“ 50 ppm
„Hazelburn“ non-peated
Strathisla k.A.
Strathmill non-peated
Talisker 25-30 ppm, aim 22-23 pmm in malt
Tamdhu k.A.
Tamnavulin k.A.
Teaninich non-peated
Tobermory non-peated malt, but peaty water
“Ledaig” 35 ppm (New Make 15 ppm), 60ppm in malt it is said??
“Iona” peated new young Tobermory, that one 60ppm?
Tomatin k.A.
Tomintoul k.A.
Tormore k.A.
Tullibardine non-peated

Quelle: The Scottish Whisky Distilleries, Misako Udo, Distillery Cat Publishing, 2005

k.A. means we do not have information on this one. Double figures mean the peat level in the malt and the level in the distilled spirit most times. Any fault or flaw in this table is my responsibility.
If you have information on missing data in this table that are reliable or find any obviouis flaws please feel free to email me.

Greetings
kallaskander
Last edited by kallaskander on Mon Dec 05, 2005 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby lambda » Mon Dec 05, 2005 10:13 am

Hmm, that peat level of Oban is strange.. I have never noticed that much peat in the Oban 14.
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Postby kallaskander » Mon Dec 05, 2005 12:53 pm

Hi there,

probably there are errors in the list. On the other hand sometimes the figure stands for the ppm in the malt after it leaves the kiln. In some cases both the ppm for the malt and the new make are given. In the whisky the phenols are lessened after distillation and maturation. Bruichladdich for example does not peat the new malt via the kilns but the peatiness comes from the water used for diluting to 46% abv.

Greetings
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Dec 05, 2005 1:52 pm

So Octomore's almost doubled the peating level from 80 to 130. I couldn't see that coming...
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Postby kallaskander » Mon Dec 05, 2005 2:27 pm

Hi there,

well the Octomore is still in an experimental state I think. Bruichladdich themselves stated on their page that they had barrels of Octomore tested and in some were found phenols in the range of 130 ppm and above. Can one drink something like that? Anyway the levels of phenol in the Octomore seem to vary. Probably they will or are allready are aiming at 80ppm in the malt after klining. A single malt with 80 ppm or above in the bottle does not sound too appealing to me. But then, tastes vary.

Greetings
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Dec 05, 2005 3:37 pm

My guess is that the flavour reaches saturation point beyond which you can increase the phenold to your heart's content without altering the flavour.
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Postby bamber » Mon Dec 05, 2005 3:42 pm

I wonder if there is a level, where it is actually toxic :?:
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Postby hpulley » Mon Dec 05, 2005 3:50 pm

There are small amounts of toxins left in all whiskies, not just peated ones. At what level is it dangerous to your health? I don't know. The LCBO has some guidelines and have disallowed a few whiskies for various reasons, mostly lead I think.

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Postby bamber » Mon Dec 05, 2005 4:14 pm

Mmmmm leady .....
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Postby Tom » Mon Dec 05, 2005 10:21 pm

The things you learn here... You know I always thought Glengoyne was the only distillery to use unpeated malt officially! Thanks for another piece of humble pie.

Bob & Jill, I totally agree with your points. Peat will numb peat. In a experiment a while ago I put 5 Cask Strength peatmonsters next to each other, blind. The experiment was a total failure because after 15 minutes I could not detect any peat anymore!

One of my most shamefull moments came from that experiment. After that we went to the club and ordered a dram, I let the laird decide what to pour. I was so sure about mine that I asked the laird if it was Arran sherry finish, he poured me. His face went very weird, he was probebly wondering if I did drugs or something, he answered no, it was Ardbeg Uigaedail... Hey, there's pepper in both, right...? and then I went to my usual corner to cry for 15 minutes...
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Postby hpulley » Tue Dec 06, 2005 1:32 am

Lead in whisky can come from fancy lead crystal bottles or other storage vessels. In the past it came from moonshine in the USA made in car radiators.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Dec 06, 2005 2:47 am

kallaskander wrote:Hi there,

a friend send me a table she made from the book of Misako Udo.


What did she use for legs?

According to Peat Smoke and Spirit, Bruichladdich's 2002 Octomore was peated to 68.2ppm, and the infamous 2003 to 129ppm. The finished spirit phenols--what actually ends up in the spirit--are 29.6 and 46.4, respectively--obviously a lot is lost in distilling. Compare to Ardbeg at 16-17 prior to 1998 (i.e. what we are now drinking as 10) and 23-24 after (Very Young), Lagavulin at 16-18, and Laphroaig at 25. Again, it is obvious that a lot goes on during maturation; many of us regard Ardbeg, at 16-17, to be at least on equal footing with Laphroaig, at 25. We don't actually know what the phenol levels in the bottle are. I have tasted new make of one of those, and it seemed considerably more phenolic than the finished product, although of course it is very hard to compare. As mentioned, the extravagant 2003 Octomore was an experiment (or a publicity stunt, if you wish). Nick may be right about diminishing returns, and no doubt he is pleased that Bruichladdich have set out to find out the facts of the matter. :wink: But I'm guessing that the Octomore will be pretty much undrinkable in its youth, on its own. It might be interesting at a higher age, though--I hope it (and we) will be around to find out.
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peaty/smokey

Postby Froagi » Tue Dec 06, 2005 4:36 am

if any of you " too smokey" whiners get a bottle of Octomore someday you can't handle please let me know. Maybe I could trade you a nice blend or a bourbon for it. kidding aside I'm beginning to think I've eaten too many habaneros. like cigarette smoking it doesn't seem to help nosing and tasting Scotch much. and don't forget. "if burning peat doesn't pour from the bottle it's not smokey enough".

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Postby kallaskander » Tue Dec 06, 2005 9:10 am

Hi there,

I said there are inconsistancies in the data. Glen Garioch was put up for sale by Suntory a few years ago. When they found no buyer they invested heavily and went on distilling themselves. But it is said that during that the peat levels were changed. AFAIK the peat used was reduced.
Glen Garioch used to be the most peated malt outside Islay and we will see what it is like if the news is right and they changed that in about five more years.
I can not tell what Misako Udo took as reference for Glen Garioch.

Greetings
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Postby ScotchBlog » Tue Dec 06, 2005 8:39 pm

As I recall, Suntory bought the distillery in the mid 90's and closed it soon afterward.

In the late 90's it was reopened again under Morrison Bowmore (Which I believe is owned by Suntory.)
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Tue Dec 06, 2005 9:21 pm

Hi TH ,
In 2003 i did an interview for my website with Stuart Thomson , we discussing the very subject of phenol levels , particularly on a pet subject of mine , 1974 Ardbeg ! Here's his reply ....

"When you talk about a 1974 Ardbeg , you are talking about something that is a heavily peated malt . There's no doubt that the Ardbeg been produced at that time was more phenolic , it was more robust , what we've tried to do since we came here in 1997 is that we've tried to increase the phenolic level . We've done that by retaining more of the the husk , because the husk or shell of the grain contains the most phenol . What you can expect from grain to spirit is that you'll loose about two thirds of your phenolic content , now anything at Ardbeg from say 1979 to 1996 would be about 42ppm therefore the spirit would be about 14ppm and certainly not as robust or phenolic or smoky as the malts being produced earlier . As we are now retaining more of the husk , we are actually , would you believe , producing spirits that are as high as 24 or 25 or 26 ppm , which is without doubt the most phenolic Ardbeg being produced here for at least 30 years . But we the consumers will just have to wait another 4 years ."

Bearing in mind VYA/AVY hadn't been thought of .....

Also we tried the Octomore in May ......WOW!

Slainté
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