What Makes Scotch Peaty?

Whiskey and Scotch whiskey lovers will likely have an idea what the term “peaty” means. For those of you who are not familiar with this term, we will explain it today.

Peated scotch brings a smoky flavor to the drink. The more the alcohol is exposed to peat smoke, the more depth and intensity the glass carries. 

Peated whiskey or scotch was actually not very famous or popular in the past, and became a trend with the millennial generation.

Where does the term peat originate? The original use of the term peat is for the accumulation of years of decomposed vegetation, dead animals, and moss converted into layers. These layers can be called bogs, which are woody and watery. It takes almost 1000 years for a bog to evolve.

How Is Peated Scotch Whiskey Made?

Peat is very abundant in Scotland, and it is extracted from the ground with shovels, sliced into rectangles, and then dried for weeks. These dried stacks are then put into a vast stove and burned, while above that, they put barley for the malting process. 

The peaty flavor you experience while having a scotch whiskey is a result of the malting process. It helps to stop the process of germination and releases a smoky effect into the barley grains. When barley is being processed for whiskey, it absorbs the odor released when the peat is burning. It gives the drink a peated or smoky accent, intensifying its flavors. 

There are various ways to create a smoky essence. It can be peaty smoke or bonfire smoke. It all depends on the process, the shape of the vessel, and the amount and quality of the peat.

What is meant by PPM in Scotch Whiskey?

PPM is something you should know before entering the market and buying a bottle. The term ‘PPM’ means “parts per million”. It is used to represent the phenol content in the alcohol. The phenolic compounds in the plants used in the production have redox properties that act as antioxidants.

These antioxidants are the reason why your drink has a smoky or peaty scotch: the higher the PPM, the peatier your drink. It also indicates what type of peated barley is used in the malting process.

Difference Between Peat and Smoke

Even though we used both the words peat and smoke as synonyms with each other, there is a slight difference between them. What makes a peaty scotch so different?

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If you smell the drink, you will find that the spirit gives a distinctive odor of something like a campfire. The traits for the palate are a bit like ashes, soot, and cinders, which later leave a dry savor. These are all the characteristics of smokey scotch.

Difference Between Peat and Smoke

On the other hand, peated scotch contributes by giving a musty effect of the decaying turf and other organic substances. It also provides a hint of iodine because of the chemical compounds of the peat. The flavors include a rich and earthy essence with a taste of bittersweetness, a bit moist, and a bitter and spicy aftertaste.

Outstanding Peated Scotch Whiskeys

Now that we know a bit about the peating process, let us take a look at some great whiskeys that boast this peated essence:

  • Bruichladdich Octomore 10.3 – This company produces a lot of peated whiskey. This drink is matured for 5-6 years in an old American oak casket. It is distilled and malt on a specific farm. They aim to make a drinkable and enjoyable spirit that everyone can experience.
  • Compass Box Peat Monster – This popular whiskey is prepared by experts. The drink includes Islay’s whiskey, Mulls, and from Speyside as well. The drink’s appearance has the color of honeycomb but has an entirely unrelated peated taste.
  • Ardbeg – This brand produces some of the most popular smoky scotches worldwide. If you are new to peated scotches, this brand is perfect for you. This ten-year-old bottle has a pale color with a taste of traditional Isley peat by smell and has a very light flavor. They also produce some special bottles for some great occasions and offer many options to choose from.
  • Talisker This brand has one of the most delicate and magnificent peaty scotches one can have. The characteristics of saline and a hind of smoke and iodine overpower the palate and leave a great aftertaste.

Parting Words

The concept of peat can be a bit confusing and complex, but we have tried our best to include all the information one needs to understand it.

We hope this article enlightens you a bit about this unique production method and guides you into trying a bottle of peated scotch. If you have given a peated scotch a try, let us know about your experience in the comments below!