Where there’s smoke, there’s… good whiskey. Though it’s not for everyone, many whiskey-lovers can’t get enough of the smoky excitement that peat provides. Sometimes it shows up as a gentle wisp of smoke, other times it’s like a full-blown scorched-earth campfire.
If peat’s your thing, five new bottles of peated whiskies should be in your sights. Spoiler alert: No, they’re not all Scotch.
1. Bunnahabhain Ceòbanach ($85)
This Scotch-maker stopped burning peat in 1963, but Master Distiller/Master Blender Ian MacMillan created this golden limited-edition bottling as homage to what the whiskies were like prior to 1963. The aroma reads as briny rather than smoky; notes of honey and smoke intertwine across the palate.
2. Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend ($45)
This golden blended Scotch is fresh and fruity, with notes of lemon cream, pear and vanilla threaded with a waft of smoke throughout.
3. Hillrock Single Malt Whiskey ($100)
This is the first peated whiskey from the Hudson Valley, New York, distillery; an 18-hour peat-smoked single malt is on the docket for an upcoming release. Bold and flavorful, look for smoky-sweet campfire aroma and flavor, plus lingering notes of toffee, chocolate and espresso.
4. Laphroaig Quarter Cask ($55)
Mixing five- and 10-year-old whiskies to gloriously, intensely smoky effect, this robust single malt Scotch is matured twice, first in large casks and then transferred to smaller “quarter casks” for more contact with the wood.
5. Miyagikyo Single Malt 12 year old ($120)
Nuanced touches of peat are woven through this outstanding Japanese whisky, harmoniously mixing honey, fresh apples and vanilla, all finishing with a delicate waft of smoke that’s like an exhale from the world’s longest, most tapered cigarette.
Kara Newman is a New York-based spirits and cocktail writer, and author of Cocktails for a Crowd (Chronicle Books).