Five Peat Monsters to Celebrate Burns' Night - The Whiskey Wash

Five Peat Monsters to Celebrate Burns’ Night

Not all Scotch is peated, but there’s not category of whisky more closely associated with that smoky, earthy, pungent aroma than the whiskies made in that wild land north of England.

So, in honor of Burns Night on January 25th, a celebration that commemorates the life of Scotland’s most famous poet, we’ve assembled five super-peated whiskies nobody would mistake for a smooth-sipping Kentucky bourbon. Sláinte!

Octomore 06.3 “Islay Barley”

Octomore 6.3 (image via The Whiskey Wash)

Ardbeg Corryvreckan

Named for a famous ship-destroying whirlpool near the island of Islay, Ardbeg Corryvreckan is a rich, smoky, almost tarry dram with a chewy texture and lingering, peppery heat. Don’t fret; the name gets easier to pronounce after a dram or two.

Octomore 6.3

Bruichladdich’s experimental Octomore series is an avenue to explore that most tantalizing of questions: what is the absolute peatiest a whisky can be? When released in 2015, Octomore 6.3 was the answer, with a whopping PPM of 258 (for context, Laphroaig 10-year-old has a PPM of about 45. It’s expensive and rare, but if you can finagle a taste from a generous friend or favorite bartender, do it.

Laphroaig Cask Strength 10-Year-Old

Most Scotch drinkers are familiar with the pungent, iodine-rich flavor of Laphroaig 10-Year-Old, an easy to find single malt that delivers big flavor at a modest price point. The cask strength version is a bit more celebratory, yet still attainable. Un-chill-filtered and bottled at 58.3% alcohol, Laphroaig Cask Strength 10-Year-Old comes across as even smokier, with an additional sweetness that offsets the potency of the peat.

Kilchoman Sanaig

The newest distillery on Islay, Kilchoman is a true farm distillery that grows and malts a portion of its own barley, smoking it with peat cut from nearby fields. Sanaig is matured in ex-bourbon casks and finished in Oloroso sherry, creating a nuanced, dare I say delicate combination of grassiness, sweetness, and smoke. Perfect for those times you’re looking for a bit of finesse from your peated whisky.

Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition

The king of peated whisky, Lagavulin is known for its balanced approach, pairing high-toned smoke with rich maltiness. The 12-year-old Distiller’s Edition released in 2017 (every year’s Distiller’s Edition is different) is finished in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, adding an extra layer of nutty, chocolatey, raisinated flavor atop the classic Lagavulin flavor profile.

About the author

    Margarett Waterbury

    Margarett Waterbury is a food and drinks writer based in Portland, Oregon. She's the managing editor of The Whiskey Wash, the managing editor of Edible Portland, and a regular contributor to local and national publications.