peat meaning whiskey

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Scotch single malt whisky can be classified into two main flavours: peated (smoky) and unpeated (non-smoky). And those which still have their own maltings such as Laphroaig on Islay, Highland Park in Orkney and even Balvenie in Speyside go one step further by peating relatively small quantities of barley for their own use. 2 : partially carbonized vegetable tissue formed by partial decomposition in water of various plants (such as mosses of the genus Sphagnum) We use cookies – want to read the policy. And perhaps one of the reasons for their current popularity is their ‘authenticity’, their ‘heritage’. The Lowlands and Speyside were the first to convert. In other words, malting tricks barleycorns into thinking spring has come. An atavistic folk memory, like candles and open fires, Christmas trees and stormy nights.”. The full process takes hundreds of millions of years, with peat appearing after thousands. Peat was and still is a defining aspect of Scotch whisky, and we should approach it with reverence and an open mind from the start of our explorations. Phenol levels are often used to compare scotches. In a very literal sense, peat is terroir (take that, wine!). World Whisky Day is a registered trademark. noun a highly organic material found in marshy or damp regions, composed of partially decayed vegetable matter: it is cut and dried for use as fuel. It’s usually found … In the early days of whisky production, peat was one of the most readily accessible fuels in many areas of Scotland. Place of origin matters here because Islay Scotches are believed to be from the birthplace of whisky in Scotland (brought, of course, by some kindly and proselytizing monks). Auchentoshan 18 Year Old ($150): This Lowland distillery is an oddball in Scotland, because it triple … In a good whisky, the bitterness of the peat on the finish is offset by the sweetness of the malt, or the sweetness contributed by the oak, and so balance is maintained. Peat is a mossy accumulation of compressed decaying plant material, and peaty is a word used to describe the wide range of flavors its combustion provides depending on how and where it’s harvested. Peat is responsible for scotch’s distinct smoky flavor, that palate-tingling fire that drives whisky fanatics to spend ridiculous amounts of money on booze. Now that you know what peat is, it’s time to taste its delicious effects for yourself in one of these fantastic, smoky scotch cocktails. Actually no. It is…. To a point, this smoke has a considerable influence on malt during kilning, imbuing it with compounds called ‘phenols‘. Port Ellen is perhaps the most legendary “ghost distillery” in Scotland. Ardbeg 10 Years Old ($60) Buy on Drizly Buy on Flaviar Buy on Caskers. Understanding a scotch’s PPM (Phenol Parts per Million) can help set your expectations for how much smoke you’re going to get before even popping the bottle. Although now mainly reserved for the whisky industry, some Scottish households still exercise their right to cut peat to burn as a domestic fuel. Initially out of necessity, Islay to the west, Orkney to the north and several mainland distilleries held on to tradition. The rating is a blunt tool though and whiskies of similar ppm can still taste very different. The Length and intensity of exposure to the peat smoke dictates the strength of this flavour as do the characteristics of the peat itself. 99.9% of peated whiskies are Scotch. You can overlook that the barley may have ripened in an English field and forget that Spanish coopers built the cask from European oak; it’s peat that gives whisky its local accent. Some lighter whiskies might measure up to 20ppm. Peat is used in whiskey making during the drying process and to stop the germination of the grain, also called malting. But what exactly is peat, and why does it matter? Part of the reason is that the peat destined for whiskey needs to be of a certain quality. Under the correct conditions, peat is the first step in coalification – the conversion of plant matter into coal. Through this production process to make the spirit, the PPM levels drop to around 1/3rd of the original level in the peat smoked malt. The qualities of peated whisky divide consumer opinion. Barleycorns are steeped in water and allowed to germinate before the process is halted in the kiln. Malting makes the starches within barleycorns soluble so that the sugars may be converted into alcohol. The development of rail transport in Scotland led to the wide availability of coke. Peat is most commonly found in the Scottish single malt scotch category, although you can detect it in whiskey from Japan, Ireland, and even here … Peated whisky is given a smoky flavour by compounds which are released by the peat fires used to dry malted barley. There are many peated whiskies on offer out there and most bartenders or shops will be able to recommend drams that range across the PPM scale. But what does peat taste like and how does it make its way into your glass of whisky? Peat can be found all over the world, not just Islay or even Scotland. In days gone by, however, they necessarily had to malt their own. For example, Springbank has a PPM of around 7 to 8 (lightly smoky), while Talisker hovers between 25 and 30 (fairly smoky), and Ardbeg is all the way up at 55 (seriously smoky). PPM, or phenol parts per million, will convey the peatiness of a whisky. This maintains a traditional and now largely unique style of whisky with lots of variation and flavour. The Islay region is particularly known for highly-peated scotch, with distilleries like Laphroaig, Ardbeg and Lagavulin delivering the unbridled flavor of the small Scottish island to drinkers all over the world. The accumulation of water in boggy areas slows down the decomposition of plant material such as moss, grass and tree roots which leads to the creation of peat. Coke burns more evenly, more consistently and with less smoke than peat, and so these regions were the first to realise the potential of un-peated whisky. Starting out with the obvious, Ardbeg’s whiskies are some of the most famous smoky drams in the world, and are a great… given a smoky flavour by compounds which are released by the peat fires used to dry malted barley. How One Craft Distiller Is Making Single Malt With American Peat The simple answer to this question is that peat gives the whisky a specific smell and flavour when it’s used to heat the kiln during the distillation process. Eight distilleries to visit before you die (2019). (Distillery: Balvenie, Region: Speyside, abv: 46%) Balvenie is better known … Peat itself can hold water, which in turn leads to expansion as further plant matter continues to decay. Peated whiskies are generally compared using a measure of phenol parts per million (PPM). This has always been the case. These five peated whiskies give a great sense of what’s on offer. That was, until the introduction of coal and, by continuation, coke. Bruichladdich have been very active at the other end of the scale with their Octomore whiskies ranging from 167ppm to over 300ppm in one case. ©2020 Group Nine Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. The only difference is that the malt used has been peat-smoked. What's the connection between whisky and sherry? Peat is the most Scottish thing about scotch. For a long time this was the most readily accessible fuel in many areas of Scotland. Peat has got The Whisky Virgin all fired up this week as he endeavours to understand where this magical substance comes from, and how it conjures myriad flavours in whisky. peat meaning: 1. a dark brown substance like soil that was formed by plants dying and becoming buried. Good Caol Ilas and good Laphroaigs achieve this balance nicely: bitter peat and sweet malt in a happy marriage. When peat is burned to heat the kiln, it also produces an especially aromatic smoke. Balvenie Peat Week 14. The use of dried peat as a fuel in Scotland dates back to medieval times when the Little Ice Age left few trees in Scottish Highlands. Peat bog is burned under the soon-to-be malted barley to stop the germination, thus drying the grain. Learn more. Peat gives scotch that signature smoky profile. Peat cut by hand on Islay. Let us begin with the peat. India, Japan and New Zealand all boast peated whiskies of their own so the peat party is certainly not just for the Scots. 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