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Speyside Peat

Peated whisky from Speyside? What will they think of next?

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Peat is made up of decaying vegetation and grasses that have formed over centuries in boggy and wet marshland areas. It has been used as a burning fuel in communities across the world for centuries. In Scotland, in particular, peat has played a central role in the drying of barley for Scotch whisky making. When the Industrial Revolution brought trains, which, in turn carried coal across the country, many distilleries abandoned peat as a fuel, but it remained in use in the islands and it is on the islands that it is still most widely used today.

Although Islay is the spiritual home of peated whisky, nowadays everybody is experimenting with peated expressions. This pack contains five recently released peated whiskies from the Speyside region. Not as pungent as their Islay counterparts, these are still excellent whiskies in their own right. Enjoy!

Glenglassaugh Torfa

Another distillery hit by closure, Glenglassaugh was purchased and reopened in 2008 after being closed since 1986. In 2013, it was purchased by BenRiach. It is pronounced Glen-Gla-Soch for those who were wondering (all of us, probably). Torfa was released in 2014 and is the first peated whisky from this distillery. At only 20 ppm it is not that peaty, and the strength means the character of the spirit shines through. Torfa is apparently an old Norse word for earth, in case you were wondering.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Early heather and light peatiness, then malt, cream soda and dried fruits. Wood smoke.
Palate: A dash of coal soot, then ripe peaches, chilli, and ginger. Finally, peat and ozone. The finish is long and fruity, with spicy peat smoke.

Retails for around £35

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Glen Moray Peated

Speyside distillery Glen Moray is owned by French company La Martiniquaise a large drinks company with very little presence in the UK. Unlike Louie Vutton, La Martiniquaise seem to have a more traditional view as to style. The case for the 16 year old is adorned with Scottish soldiers and looks like it should come with a free sample of shortbread. If you have seen Glen Moray it is probably the 12 year old, which is often discounted below 20. It is a very good dram at that price, but for just a little more you can get this lightly-peated version, which has a little more oomph.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Light and fruity. Light smoke. Soupy savouriness. Dry and faintly acrid peat in the background.
Palate: Light and fruity at first. Peat smoke building gradually to a dry, thick and sweet coconutty peaty crescendo.

Retails for around £25-30

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Tomatin C Bcan

Most of Tomatins output goes into blends such as Antiquary, but it was recently relaunched by owners Takara Shuzo Corp. with a range of interesting malts such as this lightly-peated no age statement C Bcan. C Bcan is apparently the name of a spectral dog who haunts the village of Tomatin. The whisky is peated to 15 ppm and matured in a combination of virgin oak, sherry and bourbon casks.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Coconut, lemonade and almonds. Some earth. Sweet smoke.
Palate: Smoky malt. Honey. Cinnamon. Cloves. Oak and dry peat smoke on the finish.

Retails for around £50

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BenRiach Birnie Moss

BenRiach is an independent, innovative distillery that offers a wide range of diverse whiskies such as the Fumosus range of peated whisky in a variety of finishes and the Septendecim 17 year old. The Birnie Moss expression, named after a moorland close to the distillery, is a heavily-peated (35 ppm) no age statement whisky. It was the first expression released by the current owners, who now also own Glendronach and Glenglassaugh.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Mint toffee. Carbolic soap. Rice pudding.
Palate: Sharp, fruity, sweet and peaty. Lemon meringue pie.

Retails for around £30-35

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Benromach Peat Smoke 2006

Purchased by Gordon & MacPhail in the nineties after a period of closure, Benromach is the smallest working distillery on Speyside, although there are plans to double production to meet increasing demand. Most of production is unpeated and classic Speyside, but they do some spirit peated to 67 ppm (part per million). The standard ppm measure of peat is deceptive, as this is quite subtle and nowhere near as peaty as Ardbeg, say, which is peated to 50 ppm.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Leathery peat, progressively sweetening with vanilla and fresh ginger.
Palate: Full-on earthy peat, vanilla and peppery orange. A lengthy finish with peppery peat and a final faint Elastoplast note.

Retails for around £30-35

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