The Whisky Tasting Club The Whisky Tasting Club

Peat is made up of decaying vegetation and grasses that have formed over centuries in boggy and wet marshland areas. It has been used as a burning fuel in communities across the world for centuries. In Scotland, in particular, peat has played a central role in the drying of barley for Scotch whisky making. When the Industrial Revolution brought trains, which, in turn carried coal across the country, many distilleries abandoned peat as a fuel, but it remained in use in the islands – and it is on the islands that it is still most widely used today.

Finlaggan Old Reserve Islay Malt

Finlaggan is the historic seat of power of the Lord of the Isles, who ruled the Hebrides in medieval times. The derelict castle of the Lords is situated on a small island in Loch Finlaggan on the north east of Islay.

The Finlaggan Islay malt is an independent bottling from an unnamed distillery. Rumour has it the whisky is from Lagavulin, and we tend to agree, it tastes very similar to the young Lagavulin you taste on the legendary Lagavulin warehouse tour.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Sweet, young and iodiney. Caraway seed. Tar. White chocolate. Crispy mackerel with olive oil and lemon juice. Milk pudding.
Palate: Sweet and very light at first, becoming heavily tarry and citric but with a lightish vanilla and tapioca coating. A debonair thug.

Retails for around £30

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BenRiach Curiositas 10 Year Old

The BenRiach Curiositas is so named because it is a peated Speysider. This is a curiosity indeed, since the classic Speyside taste profile is unpeated. BenRiach is an independent, innovative distillery that offers a wide range of diverse whiskies such as the Fumosus range of peated whisky in a variety of finishes and the Septendecim 17 year old. We have no idea why they have this Latin fixation!

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Sweet peat, lemon drops. Tropical fruit jelly. A faint hint of apple and sandalwood.
Palate: Sooty smoke, lots of tinned exotic fruits, peat, and barley cocoa. A gorgeous mix.

Retails for around £30

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Connemara Peated Irish Whiskey

Connemara, made by Cooley (who are now owned by Jim Beam), is that strangest of things, a peated Irish whiskey. It is unusual for an Irish in other ways too. It is a single malt and double distilled rather than the more usual process of triple distilling used in Ireland. More like a peated Highland than a Islay peat monster, this is an excellent introduction to peat.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: A lovely nose, although not what you might expect for a peated whisky. The peat is definitely in the background allowing some lovely light fruits their place at the fore.
Palate: In addition to the expected apple, there were hints of melon, toffee apples, grape and peaches. Taste-wise, there is more of the fruit and the peat makes a slightly less apologetic appearance.

Retails for around £30

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Big Peat

Big Peat is a blended Islay malt made by independent bottlers Douglas Laing. A blended malt is a combination of only single malts, and Big Peat contains whisky from Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and Port Ellen. Since its launch in 2009, the Big Peat has won numerous awards, including the Whisky Magazine best blended malt Scotch of 2010 and Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible best blended malt Scotch of 2011 (with a score of 96).

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Unsalted butter. Sooty. Dry and bitter peat waiting to pounce.
Palate: A bitter and dry peat explodes onto the palate before softening to a sooty and oaky bitterness at the end.

Retails for around £35-40

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Laphroaig Select

For this 2014 release, Laphroaig, “used Oloroso sherry butts, straight American white oak (non-filled with bourbon), PX seasoned hogsheads, Quarter Casks and finally of course first fill Bourbon Casks. This varied cask maturation technique enabled us to create 6 new flavour combinations that were then tested with our FOL’s (Friends of Laphroaig) to choose their favourite style.” This expression received very mixed reviews on release, with some bloggers using it to confirm their opinion that Laphroaig had “lost the plot”. Certainly, it isn’t as intense as the standard expressions, but then not much is…. Ignore the fickle obsessives on social media, this is another excellent offering from Laphroaig.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Not the usual intense Laphroaig nose. Carbolic soap. Vanilla and nuts. White chocolate. Stewed apple. Grapefruit.
Palate: Creamy at first, then a burst of the peppery Laphroaig intensity before allowing the white chocolate, oak, vanilla and nuttiness to accompany it through to the end.

Retails for around £30-40

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