Here’s a selection of peated malts that Beam Suntory have grouped together and are marketing as their Peated Malts of Distinction. We tasted these during another cracking tweet tasting from the whisky wire under the #peatedmalts hashtag.
A couple of controversial whiskies in here; The Laphroaig Select, a NAS whisky which has upset a lot of whisky bloggers, and the Bowmore Small Batch which has upset me. In both cases, the whisky is a younger, milder version of a much loved distillery which, on top of being NAS, doesn’t have the same complexity as age statemented versions. With the Laphroaig, I couldn’t see what the problem was, and enjoyed the gentle sweet peat and easy drinking ABV. With the Bowmore, I felt almost personally affronted that they could have taken all the mid-range out of my precious Bowmore (which I’ve been drinking a new expression of every month, at cask strength from SMWS). It doesn’t take a genius to see what the problem is here. I guess I should re-review the Bowmore and try and remove my prejudice. Maybe next time…
The Ardmore Legacy, 40% A+
Nose - Lovely light, citrus sweetness. Good blond pine and toasted wax. A little Kendal mint cake. Light peat and a bit of musk. There's a real men's deodorant thing in here - floral, wood, masculine and a bit musky. Love the gentle furniture polish on the nose.
Body - Gentle oak and smoke, lightly astringent with spicy top notes and a clean, lightly toffeed delivery. Some pear, some malted barley, some toasted oats, a hint of darkly roasted coffee.
Finish - Medium, good coffee and BBQ peat.
What’s not good about it - Not much at this price. Lacks intensity but that’s not it’s bag.
What’s good about it - Gentle, accessible, light and balanced. Great value for money. A real glugger - I’m not too upset by the ABV drop as I wasn’t too attached (yet) to the original and sometimes I want something to sip and talk over.
Connemara Original, 40% A+
First distilled in 1991. Some of the oldest distillate is soon to be launched with a Connemara 22yo
Nose - Bright, sour tropical fruit squash. Peach, grapefruit and felt tipped pens. Just the vaguest hint of structural peat, and some green notes like the smell of fresh cut green chillies and lots of freshly cracked black pepper. I can’t stop thinking of a Thai green curry.
Body - Soft fruit, damp tobacco, light peat, granulated sugar sweet on the tip of the tongue. Balanced, a little austere, and quite satisfying. A lasting impression of liquorice torpedoes.
Finish - Long, elegant peat. Something farmyardy at the end though, like a blue cheese.
What’s not good about it - Disappointing delivery - too weak and damp.
What’s good about it - Lovely, really lovely nose - interesting, structured and tasty. The finish is good too, just a weird middle.
Bowmore Small Batch, 40% A
First and second fill ex-bourbon barrels.
Nose - Gentle honey Bowmore on the nose. Bright solvents, young peat, a little swimming pool, lightly floral, and a bit musky. Dusty sweets - not the parmas, but their plain cousins in the same form factor, “fizzers”. All quite calm and gentle though.
Body - Light, a bit weak, dusty and icing sugar. Weak orange squash, gentle spice and a ghost of Bowmore authority.
Finish - Medium to long, competent; balanced and quite interesting, particularly at the end where the Islay reasserts itself with musky peat. But I think I love Bowmore too much to be happy about this.
What’s not good about it - Weak and lacks interest. I think you’re better off with the Ardmore at this price range than pushing Bowmore down to this price.
What’s good about it - Competent and put together fine. I’d drink this, but I’d much rather drink Laphroaig or Ardbeg 10 year old.
Laphroaig Select, 40% A+
Laphroaig Select is made up of Oloroso sherry butts, American white oak casks (non-bourbon filled), PX seasoned hogsheads, Quarter Casks & first fill Bourbon Casks. Just about everything then!
Nose - Bright, sweet, light but balanced peat and citrus notes. Ozone. Sweet sour top notes. A hint of dark sherried sweetness, musky malt and a reassuring hand on the shoulder that points you back to the distillery. If you dig deep enough, wax and frazzles. And I also get beedis (funny little Indian fags).
Body - Light, sweet, juicy malt and balanced peat. Slightly drying and a touch over astringent, but very competent. Some slightly unripe red cherries and sweet orange juice.
Finish - Significant frazzles. Loads of cloves. Medium, longish toffee and young peat dominate but the overall lack of intensity mean this isn’t a massive problem.
What’s not good about it - Lacks intensity. Frazzles on the finish isn't as good as it looks on paper.
What’s good about it - Light, breakfast Islay at a ready-to-go ABV. Quite juicy, good sweetness, nice clean sweet peat and a good clean finish. We have a winner.