Ardbeg Days – Auriverdes Tasting!

Ardbeg Days - AuriverdesReader Lyle is a member of the “Ardbeg Committee” and as such has the opportunity to attend special events thrown by Ardbeg (anyone can join here).

Most recently, they’ve been hosting Ardbeg Days across the country and Lyle attended one near where he lives in Oregon City. The closest one to me is in New Jersey, which is several hours away, and with two small children I doubt my lovely wife would take kindly to me running off to attend a scotch tasting four hours away!

Lyle, however, did us the kind favor of writing up this little tasting note about what he enjoyed at a most recent Ardbeg Day. He tried the 10 Year, the Uigeadail, and their new release, Auriverdes.

Take it away Lyle!

Ardbeg is busy hosting Ardbeg Days at various locations across the country. If one is an Ardbeg “Committee Member” then one is invited to the special events. If you are not a Committee Member, you are welcome to attend, but finding out about the events is more difficult.

I was lucky to be able to attend the Ardbeg Days events at the Highland Stillhouse in Oregon City. I started off with a tasting of three Ardbeg whiskies; the 10YR, the Uigeadail, and the new Auriverdes, which has not yet been released to the general public.

It was the excitement of tasting the new Auriverdes that drew me to the event.

This is what I discovered.

The Ardbeg Auriverdes is 49.9% ABV and is a light golden color.

My nose picked out the oak, vanilla, and lemon scents.

During the taste, I could pick out the oak, vanilla, and the charcoal peat, which was not as strong as I anticipated.

As for the finish, it starts off strong in the charcoal peat flavor, but quickly diminishes.

Still, I found the Auriverdes quite acceptable and I would consider this whisky to better than Ardbeg’s 10 YR, but in my opinion, below the Uigeadail. I hope to have a bottle on my shelf in the near future, for further analysis.

Ardbeg Days - Sheep TossThe Ardbeg Days event was not just about having a dram or two of fine scotch, but also participating in the games that were scheduled into the afternoon. There were 10 events including the Peat Bog Goal Kick and my favorite the SHEEP TOSS.

All had Scottish theme and the results were recorded on a score card. Participating in the games were more fun than I anticipated it would be, but after a few games, it seemed that taking a break to have another dram was well earned.

I had no doubt that my performance in the games would put me out of the prize category, but that never bothered me. It made a great fun filled day and the games added to the overall event.

Furthermore, it was a loud event as a pipe band consisting of three drummers and two bagpipes began provided the musical entertainment. No not outside, but squeezed into the wee pub. And I thought pipe bands were loud at the Highland Games!

How often do you get a wee dram with a bagpipe playing three feet away! The next best thing to being in Scotland!


Sounds like a tremendously fun event! I’m glad Lyle was kind enough to share his experience with us!


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Are Whisky Stones Worth It?

Source: visualpanicWhisky stones are little cubes of soapstone that you can “freeze” and then put in your whisky to chill it a little bit. Whisky stones are perfectly safe, unless you’re clumsy and drop the rocks in too hard.

They’re growing in popularity as a fun little accessory to get your whisky drinking friend because they’re cheap. Teroforma sells a set of 9 stones for under twenty bucks.

But are they worth it? Eh, I’m indifferent.

I’ve had a bag of whisky rocks in my freezer for at least five years and I’ve probably used it fewer than five times in my life. In fact, my wife uses more than I do to to chill Riesling!

The reality is that I enjoy my whisky in one of two ways – neat or in a cocktail. When I enjoy it neat, I like it at room temperature. We keep our house a little cooler in the winter and a little warmer in the summer but generally speaking it’s within a comfortable range.

There have been studies that show that temperature affects taste. In the science journal Nature, researchers revealed that “heat activation of TRPM4 underlies thermal sensitivity of sweet taste.”

In plain English, that simply means you are more sensitive to sweetness when something is warmer (the researched showed the same was true for umami and bitter). That’s why melted ice cream often tastes too sweet and why warm beer tastes more bitter.

Chilling whisky will impact your ability to perceive certain flavors on your tongue. I don’t want that.

For now, those stones will sit in my freezer until my lovely wife wants another glass of not-quite-cold-enough Riesling.

I’ve been getting some questions about different whisky stone brands – they’re all the same. It’s soapstone and there’s really no differentiation between one brand and another, the only difference is the packaging so pick whatever you think looks nice.

Do you use whisky stones? What’s your take on them?

Posted in Barware | 16 Comments

Whiskey Mac (MacDonald) Cocktail Recipe

Want a simple but refreshing summer beverage that includes your favorite spirit?

Consider the Whisky Mac, short of Whisky MacDonald. The idea of it comes to me from Reader Raymond who quips:

Funny how you say, you have discovered Bourbon I have devoured 3 bottles I have only tasted cheap Cougar in case I did not like it. But I kind of like it, so I will now start to explore. One thing I know is, I have been drinking whisky mac and I have put on tons of weight. I find it difficult to run, I keep spilling it.

I recommended a flask for our enterprising exercising imbiber. :)

So what’s in a Whisky Mac?

It has two ingredients – 1½ ounces of Scotch whisky mixed with 1½ ounces of green ginger wine.

Can’t get simpler than that!

Pour both into a single glass, no ice, and you have yourself the simplest cocktail ever short of scotch neat.

As for finding green gingner wine, I’ve never purchased green ginger wine though if I were, chances are I’d find a bottle of Stone’s Original Green Ginger Wine because it’s available in many stores and they may be the only producer of green ginger wine!

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Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams: 2012 Limited Edition Tasting Notes

Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams 2012One of the best parts about running Scotch Addict is the little community that has grown around it.

Today we have a real treat. Reader Lyle send in this report about Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams, 2012 Limited Edition.

First, a little background about this limited edition release. For a year, Glenfiddich asked fans to submit their dreams to their website and a lucky 24 were selected to have their dream included on the packaging.

They also took 11 new American oak casks on a tour of major US cities and invited fans to write their dreams. Then they took those casks back to Scotland and filled them with Glenfiddich aged 14 years and older to finish.

Glenfiddich-2012-DreamsHere’s Lyle’s report:

While on a vacation, back in March [2014], I was in a liquor store and noticed that they had 2 bottles of Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams – 2013 Limited Edition.

I immediately decided to purchase both bottles and brought them home. They have been sitting on the shelf until tonight, when I decided it was time to do some tasting.

From what I understand, they rolled empty barrels through several cities across America and let people sign and write their dreams on the casts. These casks were new American oak casks.

Once the writing and rolling was complete the casks were shipped back to Scotland, where they were filled with 14 year whisky for four months, to finish the aging process. My understanding is that 3,500 bottles returned to the US and yes two to my whisky shelf.

The new oak and vanilla flavors immediately filled my nose.

What I noticed with the taste was the subtle fruity and spices.

The finish was that of the rich oak that left my taste buds screaming for more.

I should mention that this whisky is a 48.8%, which is more than most of the Glenfiddich single malt whiskies, which are typically in the 40% to 43% range.

I think that I could enjoy a second tasting before retiring tonight.

I was very impressed with this single malt and find that the $100 price was well worth opening the wallet.

If anyone enjoys tasting scotch as much as I do, they will not be disappointed in the Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams. I must admit that this is not very rich in peat, if one is a peat lover, but very well done otherwise. I am pleased that I bought two bottles.

Thanks Lyle!

Posted in Tasting Notes | Tagged | 5 Comments

Best Scotch Whisky Books

When I was in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, I stopped by their duty free shop (the one right through the security checkpoint) to see what they had.

It was a beautifully set up little area for single malt scotches. I wish I took some photos, especially now that I’m starting that series where I post photos of duty free areas, but alas my description will have to do.

The scotch area was a sectioned off part of the store in the back, about 20′ x 20′ with a few high dollar scotches in nice cases in the middle of the room. Along the sides, the racks were set up like bookcases. There was a lot of scotch but in between, when there was space, they stuck some books. It looked very much like a library and it was a look I wanted to recreate at home.

I only have two whisky books at home and I felt I needed to pick up a few more to fill up some space between the oddly spaced bottles. As any aficionado will tell you, it’s as if no two boxes are the same width!

To help me find out the best of the best in scotch whisky books, I asked readers of Scotch Addict to send me their favorites.

Below is a collection of the best of the best, in case you wanted to expand your library!

Whisky Bible by Jim Murray

Jim Murray's Whisky BibleThis book was recommended the most, by leaps and bounds, over any other book on this list. I’ll let reader Lyle tell you why it’s his favorite:

In the front section, he explains his rating system using nose, taste, finish, & balance.

His, “How to Taste Whisky” also provides great tips for the novice. My wife has never liked the smell of Scotch, but during the past 1 ½ years she has occasionally joined me in scotch tasting and actually enjoys the occasional tasting. Of course tasting a several Scotches on an afternoon with each consisting of ¼ ounce in a Glencairn glass is not the same as drinking a glass of Scotch. However, it has allowed her to appreciate the variety of flavors.

By introducing her to Scotch in this manner, she has been able to define the aspects that she likes, the Speyside whiskies. And on rare occasions, she has joined me in a glass of Scotch.

I believe that the best way to introduce Scotch to a non-Scotch enthusiast is to go through the tasting process with several different whiskies. Since taste is subjective, it is important to help them match his or her tastes; otherwise you risk putting them off Scotch forever.

Getting back to Murray’s Whisky Bible, one can use his guide to select a whisky more in tune with the tastes of the novice. For my wife, she leans toward the sherry & fruity whiskies and away from the peaty or heavy oak ones. To each his or her own!

You have to remember that to many non-Scotch drinkers, Scotch is a foul smelling vile liquid, for old men with cast iron stomachs! This why I believe that one needs to ease the person into the Scotch experience through a tasting.

I am sure that if you just handed the average, non-Scotch, drinker a glass of Laphroaig, they would be hesitant to become a Scotch enthusiast.

Click to Buy Whisky Bible by Jim Murray

Whiskey: The Definitive World Guide by Michael Jackson

Whiskey: The Definitive World GuideThis book is the most well known tome on whiskey. Whether you want to learn about Scotch, Bourbon, or Whiskey, Michael Jackson has you covered.

I first learned about Michael Jackson through his homebrewing books, it wasn’t until later that I learned he had such an extensive collection of books about whisky. Another book that was mentioned frequently was Michael Jackson’s “Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch,” which is a classic.

Click to Buy Whiskey: The Definitive World Guide by Michael Jackson

The World Atlas Of Whisky by Dave Bloom

The World Atlas of WhiskyThis particular book, by Dave Broom, was recommended by several readers. I’ve never personally seen this book but from what I gather online, it’s a massive 320 page beauty that covers almost every single distillery you could name. 350 expressions tasted, 150 distilleries explored – that’s quite a few stamps on the Whisky passport.

Broom himself is a journalist with 20 years of experience, a four-time Glenfiddich Award winning author (which are no longer awarded), and he’s the editor of a handful of magazines as well as a writer of many more. He’s on top of his stuff and I can’t think of many folks better than him to write about whisky.

Whisky: The Manual is another book by Dave Bloom worth checking out.

Click to Buy The World Atlas Of Whisky by Dave Bloom

World Whiskey by Charles MacLean

World Whiskey by Charles MacleanIf you need a beautiful hardcover coffee table book about whiskey, this is the one to get.

Here’s what Bob has to say about this book:

World Whiskey had BEAUTIFUL large pictures of the various brands that I might actually have some chance of affording, and finding on the shelf. The Michael Jackson book was and ultimate authority, but no pictures and tons of scotches that I will never see and could never afford.

After much stewing around (books were about the same price), I decided to go with the great picture book by Maclean. It also had other types of whiskies featured, and I am not opposed to drinking some Irish Whiskey or Bourbon.

Readers also recommended these two books, also by Charles MacLean:

Click to Buy World Whiskey by Charles MacLean

Honorable Mentions

These are books that weren’t overwhelmingly recommended by readers but I thought were worth putting in a list, in case you were looking for a book off the beaten path. I added notes whenever readers offered them. I hope you find a good book to add to your library!

What book will you add to your library?

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What’s in the Toronto Pearson International Airport Authority Duty Free?

Tax + Duty Free

Tax + Duty Free

I’m going to start a new series here at Scotch Addict, photos of duty free shops in international airports.

I’m afraid I don’t that much travel anymore but many of you do — so if you go on travel and find yourself in a duty free store, mind taking a few shots and sending them my way? I’ll compile a gallery and then folks can do a little planning ahead of time.

Today’s photos come from Toronto Pearson International Airport and are courtesy of Gary (Thanks Gary!). Toronto seems to have a very extensive collection of single malts and blends, both retail and travel, and chances are you can find nearly anything you could want there.

Gary: This is the duty free in Terminal 1 by gate 60. As soon as you clear customs and the final airline check and head downstairs. They had a little bit of everything, and did have some labeling describing the scotch. Such as Highland, Lowland, also labeled as to the amount of peat/smoke.

Glenfiddich and Grant's

Glenfiddich and Grant’s

Wider shot: Lots of speysides

Wider shot: Lots of speysides

You can see a lot in this shot. You have the same row of Glenfiddich (along with some travel retail specials at the top row, Age of Discovery), below the Grant’s there is a lineup of Balvenie and Glenmorangie right under that in that first section. In the middle section, the bottom row is the travel retail boxes of Macallan. Above it is Glenkinchie and then some Aberfeldy.


This is straight on — the top row of that middle shelf was Talisker with some Chivas Regal below it. In the shelf to the left we can see ther eis Glenlivet above Coal Ila, Laphroaig and Ardbeg. With Talisker so prominently displayed in that other shelf, I’m surprised Laphroaig and Ardbeg are at the bottom here. I guess they didn’t pay their shelf dues. :)

Last shelf is Cognac — nice little selection.

Closeup: Middle Shelf

Closeup: Middle Shelf

Closeup of the shelf with Dalwhinnie at the top, followed by Cardhu, Glenlivet, and the Islays.

Closeup: Aberfeldy, Highland Park, Glenkinchie, Bowmore

Closeup: Aberfeldy, Highland Park, Glenkinchie, Bowmore

A shelf of just Johnnie Walker

A shelf of just Johnnie Walker

An entire rack devoted to Johnnie Walker… Blue gets the position on high.

Thanks again to Gary!

Posted in Duty Free | 8 Comments

Is Johnnie Walker Blue Worth It?

Credit: Vacacion

Credit: Vacacion

Find any random person off the street and ask them what the most expensive bottle of scotch is… chances are they will say Johnnie Walker Blue. It’s well known, it’s generally well regarded, and people know it’s expensive.

Heck, walk through any duty free store and chances are there will be a huge display dedicated to JW Blue. You can thank the marketing power of Diageo for that one.

As a gift, you can’t go wrong. Your recipient will know what they’re getting and they’ll be very thankful.

But is it worth it to buy for yourself at home?

Ehhh… that’s a tough one.

Johnnie Walker Blue is just so expensive. Around here, it clocks in around $180 plus tax for a 750ml bottle.

My Personal Take

The price kills it for me. $180 for 750mls puts this into strict indulgence territory. The Macallan 18 is around $170 for 750ml, also an indulgence, but is a single malt that claims an age – eighteen years.

Dollar of dollar, I think I’d rather have three bottles of something in the $50 range than one bottle in the $150 area.

Funny story, I was on the Most Precious Tour at Macallan and we sampled a Macallan 25 (I think, the list price was £321). It was delicious. It was smooth. It was also three times the price of a Macallan 18.

So I asked the tour guide what he thought and he gave me this argument – would I prefer one bottle of 25 or THREE bottles of 18? The answer is clear.

I feel the same way about JW Blue. It’s nice, for sure, but it’s not so much better that you’re getting good value per dollar out of the deal.

Scores & Accollades

For how much it costs, the scores and awards aren’t really all that impressive.

I pulled these scores from the BevMo! website, a popular West Coast retailer:

  • Wilfred Wong Rating: 94 (he’s the BevMo cellar master, a veteran wine competition judge and writer)
  • Wine Enthusiast Rating: 89 (Wine Enthusiast website has it at 95)
  • Beverage Tasting Institute Rating: 93 ( doesn’t have Blue listed on their site, so I can’t confirm this number… it does list Double Black, which gets a 93 though)

Whisky Advocate doesn’t score Johnnie Walker Blue (it does score the Anniversary at 95, but that’s a $3500 bottle!), so we’re at a loss in terms of scores. For what it’s worth, Double Black scored a 90.

Say what you will about scores but it seems like there just isn’t much coverage on Johnnie Walker Blue. Does that mean it’s bad? Not necessarily but it was a little surprising after I did some digging.

Let’s look at awards then. At the 2013 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Johnnie Walker Blue scored “only” a Gold Medal. A Gold Medal is second only to a Double Gold, of which 45 were awarded in 2013.

There was a Johnnie Walker that won Double Gold? Double Black, which will run you around $35 a bottle. They are two totally different spirits in terms of design and intent. That said, Double Black gets some great scores and it’s much much cheaper.

What do you think about Johnnie Walker Blue? Is it worth the price tag?

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How to Take Advantage of Duty Free Shopping

Credit: justgrimes

Credit: justgrimes

I just got back from a fun week-long vacation overseas which meant I had a chance to score a few gems going through duty free.

Sadly, when I went to checkout with a few bottles in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, the cashier told me that I shouldn’t buy any scotch. I was going through Iceland and she warned me that customs would take it away… even though USA was my final destination.

Not knowing any better… I figured I could just buy a few bottles in Iceland anyway.

It turns out the bottles would never have been confiscated (I never left the security area) and Iceland’s Keflavik airport whisky selection, as you’d imagine, was much much smaller. :(

But, when life hands you lemons, you make some limoncello… right?

Before I get into what I ended up finding, to my delight, I wanted to briefly talk about how I take advantage of duty free shopping. I don’t travel abroad very much anymore, now that we have two young kiddos, so when I do, I need to take full advantage.

My Strategy for Duty Free Shopping

Years ago, when I was a novice at this game, I would just try to find things that were cheaper in duty free. So I’d find myself lugging around bottles of Glenlivet 12 or some other scotch I knew I liked.

After a few trips like these, I realized I was going about this all wrong. Duty free will save you a little bit of money but the real benefit isn’t in saving money… it’s in getting access to bottles you wouldn’t otherwise be able to buy.

That’s how you take advantage of duty free. Saving money is fine and dandy, but true value (at least for me) is getting stuff I can’t otherwise get.

“Travel Exclusive”

If you ever see this term, or “travel retail,” written on a box or label, it means that it’s only made available through the duty free market (or on cruises, etc.).

Why do distilleries only make certain things travel exclusive? So it’s somehow special. Take a look at this listing of exclusive malt whiskies in World Duty Free, the operator of World of Whisky duty-free shop in Heathrow (and several other airports in the UK).

You can’t really trust the list (for example, you can get Ardbeg Corryvrekan outside of travel retail but you won’t find any of the Macallans), but you get the idea.

Customs & Alcohol Allowance Limits

When you re-enter the United States, you’re supposed to pay a duty on products you bring back. Everyone gets an exemption though and this is a dollar amount ($200, $800, or $1600 depending on what it is) as well as a limit on certain types of goods.

For example, you can’t bring back any fruits and vegetables but there’s a limit on liquor. You can bring back one liter of alcohol per person if you’re over 21. Anything above that may be subject to a tax.

I’ve never been subject to a duty and I’ve traveled back with as much as 6L of whiskey before. I declare what I have on the form (in terms of dollar amount) and I’ve never been questioned about it. The worst case is that you pay a tax, the best case is they don’t really care and you pay no extra tax.

How do you know if you’ll like it?

No matter what it is, I’ll probably like it. :)

While poking around in Schiphol Airport, I did see a Bruichladdich Octomore 6.2 and I considered it. That’s a case of where I might not like it, it being the peatiest scotch in all the land, and it was close to $300 USD. I’m all for splurging but I suspect it would’ve been too intense for me.

If you’re worried whether or not you’ll like it, think about what you don’t like about a whisky and avoid it. If you don’t like Islays, don’t get an Islay. If you like things sweeter, look for finishes in dessert casks like Port or Sauternes. If you like to be confused, get an Islay finished in a dessert wine, like Laphroaig PX (PX standards for Pedro Ximénez, a sweet dark sherry).

What did I end up with?

It turns out that Iceland’s airport had Monkey Shoulder, a blended scotch imported by William Grant & Sons. Fellow reader Wayne told me about it first (though several others have mentioned it… like Martin and Larry) but I wasn’t able to find anything locally. I haven’t opened it yet but I look forward to it.

Here’s what Wayne has said about it in our Facebook group (it’s set as closed but anyone can join):

This is a scotch blended of some very pedigreed scotches – Balvenie, Glenfiddich and Kininvie (I’ve never heard of the Kininvie), all from Speyside. At $34 bucks a bottle this might be the best value in scotch today! It has all of the attributes of a good Balvenie – rich, creamy, smooth, some caramel.

It’s not only the best blended scotch I’ve ever tasted, it outdoes many of the single-malts on the market. If you can find it, RUN, don’t walk and get some! (point of interest, the store I got it from didn’t even have it on display – they had ONE case from which they would sell ONE bottle per customer, by request!)

I also picked up Highland Park Einar, a global travel exclusive. It has a cool Nordin theme and, seeing as I was in Iceland, it felt like a good choice. I’m always a fan of Highland Park anyway so I figured you can’t go wrong!

So while I was a little bummed out about not having to go through security again, sometimes things just work out.

Posted in Travel | 3 Comments

Best Scotch Whisky Ice Ball Mold

Credit: Kyle May

Credit: Kyle May

Do you put ice in your scotch?

Most of the time, I don’t. I enjoy my scotch neat but I understand when people want to put some ice in their whisky.

Sometimes, I’ll put some water or ice in bourbon or higher alcohol content whiskies because I find that higher alcohol content makes it harder for my palate to enjoy the subtler flavors. With a little water, it really opens up.

When it comes to cocktails, you need ice. And when you want the temperature to drop but you don’t want to add too much water, the most effective way is to use an ice ball.

Why are ice balls better?

It’s all about surface area. A sphere has less surface area than a cube and so by using a sphere, the ice melts slower. Slower melting ice means slower cooling but it also means less water is introduce as you enjoy your beverage.

What’s the best ice ball for scotch?

For a cool £650.00 you can get the Macallan Ice Ball Maker, which basically melts a huge block of ice into a 65mm ice ball (a hair over 2.5″). I would prefer to buy a small mold and use the rest on actual Macallan (or Balvenie or anything except an ice ball maker).

For those of us with more brains than budget, I recommend the Tovolo Ice Molds. For less than ten dollars you get two silicon molds that make you 2.5″ ice balls. The mold itself is 3.5″ wide and 6″ high and they stack.

Tovolo also makes HUGE ice cube trays, as in two inch wide cubes.

Bigger cubes don’t necessarily melt any faster or slower but they look really amazing. Especially if you take the time to make perfectly clear ice cubes.

Another design I like is the Arctic Chill, though I’ve never used it. It’s a little pricier but it comes with a set of 4, also makes 2.5″ ice spheres, and is BPA free silicon.

In the end, as long as the seal is good (check reviews) and they don’t fall over when they’re freezing, you should be all set.

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What is the smokiest peatiest scotch whisky?

 Credit: martinak15

Credit: martinak15




Once you enjoy a peaty scotch in front of a roaring fire, there are fewer things better. There’s just something about staring at the flicker of the flames and enjoying a dram.

Chances are you’ve had some Ardbeg or Laphroaig or Lagavulin and you’re wondering if there’s more. Ardbeg is generally regarded as the peatiest and, in terms of the standard lineup, it’s definitely up there.

But… there are peatier and smokier scotches. Special editions where the distiller has gone all out.

How do you get smoke into a liquid?

Well, it’s not really smoke (or peat), it’s just what we associate with it. Peatyness is measurable, in phenols, a carbolic acid and aromatic organic compound that makes its way into the barley during the drying process.

It’s measured in parts per million (ppm) and the higher ppm means you have more of these aromatic compounds, which means smokier and peatier. Also remember that the measurement is taken of the barley, not of the resulting whisky.

What is the smokiest, peatiest scotch whisky?

Bruichladdich-Octomore-5-1Fortunately, unlike many things in life, this has a quantitative answer – it’s all in the ppm of phenols, which is measurable.

Who is king? Bruichladdich Octomore.

There are several versions of the Octomore but the latest, 5.1, boasts a whopping 169 ppm (6.2 is peated at 167 ppm) . In addition to smoke, it packs an alcoholic punch too, bottled at 59.5% and in one of the sexiest bottles I’ve ever seen. (something about an all black matte finish)

Bruichladdich is itself an Islay, which is home to some of the peatiest scotch in all the land, but it’s regular lineup is unpeated. It’s only the Port Charlotte and Octomore line that gets the peat.

Port Charlotte is “heavily peated” to 40 ppm, which puts it on par with some of their peaty island-mates.

Speaking of neighbors, how do some of the other peatiest Islays stack up? Octomore is waaaaay up there. Ardbeg told me, via email, that all expressions are peated to 55 ppm with two exceptions, Bladsa has a ppm of 8 and Supernova has a ppm of 100. I emailed Laphroaig and Lagavulin and will report back if they respond.

More to it than Phenols

Phenols aren’t everything though… Other characteristics matter too. Some whiskies will taste peatier and smokier because of how they’re matured.

For example, the tasting notes of the 5.1 talk of scents and flavors more often associated with Speysides – like cinnamon, grapefruit, tangerine, and honeyed lemon. It’s paired with more traditional peaty flavors like peat smoked barley, sea salt, light iodine.

If you sip some Laphroaig, on the other hand, you won’t get much, if any, citrus. It’ll have a hint of sweetness but you’ll mostly get medicinal, iodine, and smoke. It’ll seem peatier and smokier because that’s all you get, even if the phenol counts don’t say so.

A violinist doesn’t play any louder or softer in an orchestra, but he or she would sound louder when playing by themselves.

Posted in Reference | 9 Comments