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Issue 55 - Where next for peat?

Whisky Magazine Issue 55
April 2006

 

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Where next for peat?

Peaty whisky has been enjoying a long spell in the limelight.But are there new territories to explore? Ian Wisniewski reports

Being called names doesn't bother me, and I'm sure the rest of the gang are fine about it too. After all, ‘peat freak' or ‘peat head' only indicates a passion for peated malts, and there's nothing derogatory about that.

As an ultimate style, peated malts have an integral sense of challenge (can you handle it?), but then they also offer a distinctive, and bountiful reward.

Having acquired cult status, peated malts have also created a significant new dynamic within the category. Traditionally, reaching malt-hood meant drinking blended Scotch first, before experimenting with elegant, fruity malts, and possibly graduating to peaty, smoky styles.

However, a growing crowd is now bypassing blends and reaching straight for malts, which are seen as ‘the real deal.' Moreover, even some straight-to-malt drinkers are making their debut with peaty, smoky malts.

“People went from blends to ‘Glen Safe,' which I think was more to do with availability. Now some consumers are going straight into peated malts,” confirms Highland Park's Jason Craig.

In fact, there's so much traffic in this direction that peated malts represent around 50 per cent of the premium malt sector.

“As peated malts were to an extent discovered by consumers, they've proved that producers who thought peated malts wouldn't sell were shortsighted. Sometimes peated malts are all consumers want to know about,” says Nick Morgan of Classic Malts.

A growing fan club has also gone way beyond the original cir...

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