Drink a Dram with Delin: Entering "The Dark Side", i.e. Peated Whisky

by Delin Watmough


Hello everyone! It definitely has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for the past few months, but finally things are starting to get back to some semblance of normal. It looks like our Robbie Burns Dinner is a go so if you have not gotten your tickets yet I would highly suggest you do it right away. The Battle River Pipes and Drums have been practicing like crazy in order to put on a great show and to tell the truth, I can’t believe how much we have improved since our last Robbie Burns event. We also are having our open house on December 4, in the Seniors Center in Killam. This is a great chance to get your Burns tickets and any other items you may need for the Burns Dinner as that is the night to show off all your Scottish Finery. I have heard there will be a few of our band members on hand that day as well at the Open House, playing some Christmas tunes and trying to encourage anyone with interest to come on out and join the band. All of the band members would be more than happy to explain their instrument and what to expect when becoming a member. We all work hard perfecting our craft but we have a lot of fun doing it.


Ok now on to the fun stuff (cue Darth Vader Theme on the bagpipes)... It is time for our trip to the dark side.


I have been wanting to do a peated whisky blog for quite some time but have held off because let's face it, not everyone cares for peated whisky’s and that’s ok but there are a few of us who love the smell of smoke and the sea and it just draws us in and keeps us drinking whisky that tastes like a peat bog. For me, I find peated whisky wonderfully complex, warm and inviting and makes me feel like I am in the mountains sitting by a fire on the side of a lake. I do understand these whisky’s are just not for everyone but for the next couple months I am going to review a few different peated whisky’s for those of us who do truly enjoy a glass of smoke.


Smokehead

A blended Islay single malt with 43% ABV from Ian Macleod Distillers. Intensely rich with a hint of sweetness, intensely smoky with notes of sea salt.

Color - glowing tan

Nose – cinder toffee with smoke

Palate – Flat arrival with wet bark, kindling, coffee beans, peat and black pepper

Finish – Dark chocolate

Rated 5 out of 10

My notes

The smoke assaults the nose the second you open the bottle and continues when you pour it into a glass, very light gold in color and the legs were quite weak. After a bit the smoke gives way to a slight iodine smell. On the pallet the smoke continues with a light peat flavor mixed in with toffee and spice. On the finish I get pepper and spice with a touch of peat. Two drops of water opens up the spice and dissipates the smoke. In my opinion the water makes to too spice forward.


Laugavulin 8

Distilling on the Island of Islay since 1816 Laugavulin is one of the top distilleries on the Island. The 8 year old was released to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Lagavulin Distillery.

Color – light gold

Nose – soft with clean fresh notes, hint of milk chocolate and lemon then developing fragrant tea smelling smoke

Palate – soothing light texture, sweet smoky taste with growing pungency, then dry, then more smoke

Finish – long smooth and smoky

Rated 3.5 out of 5

My notes

Color was a very light amber with better legs than the Smokehead. Not as smoky on the nose but it is definitely there as well as a hint of leather. On the palate it had a silky smooth texture that is smoke forward with the taste of new leather. (don’t ask how I know what new leather tastes like it is a long story). The finish with this is long and smooth, with 2 drops of water it smooths it out even more and actually intensifies the smoke taste.


McClellands Islay single malt

This whisky is put out by the Morrison Bowmore company and it is suspected that it comes from rejected Bowmore casks. Make no mistake this is a budget whisky and all the reviews I read online would bear that out.

Color – golden honey

Nose – intense smoke, tar and charred wood

Palate – strong flavors of peat smoke, sea salt, with malt sweetness and vanilla.

Finish- clean

My notes

Very light gold like watered down apple juice in color and almost no legs to speak of with a light smoke on the nose with a slight hint of citrus. On the palate I could taste a wee bit of smoke, a wee bit of peat, and a slight hint of wood. This is not a complex whisky at all and 2 drops of water did nothing for it whatsoever but I would not hesitate to serve this to someone who is new to peated whisky’s as it is very easy to drink.


Innes & Gunn Peated Whisky Cask

Last summer Innes & Gunn came out with a beer aged in old Laphroigh10 year old casks. Dan Fee managed to get some brought in to our local Co-op and all I have to say is WOW. This beer has all the rich toasty malted goodness of regular Innes & Gunn and adds the smoky spicy woodsmoke and peat of the Laphroigh 10 year old. This is one of a kind beer that all peat lovers will enjoy.


Well, that’s it for another month and I hope to see everyone at our open house.

May your days be long and your glasses full.


Slainte

Delin Watmough