Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Spirits >
Jan 15, 2012 03:12 PM

What's the peatiest, smokiest scotch?

I could not reply to the previous thread so I had to start this new one. I just wanted to say thank you to those you suggested Ardbeg 10 (Islay Single Malt)! I thought Mcclelland's Islay was smokey. Ardbeg is far superior. I happen to have both and was able to taste test them. I was blown away by the comparison.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Have you tried "The Peat Monster," from Compass Box?

    Or how about the new "Double Black," from Johnnie Walker?

    1. I would think that Laphroaig is the peatiest smokiest scotch. That doesn't mean it's the best Islay malt - I'd say Bowmore and Ardbeg and several others from Islay would be better. Someone mentioned Johnny Walker Double Black - it's got a lo of Islay malt in it, but it is a blend. For half the price of Double Black and still a fair amount of Islay smoke there is Black Bottle.

      11 Replies
      1. re: kagemusha49

        Agreed about the Laphroaig. Lagavullin is up there as well, but more balance.

        Also try Smokehead. A new very commercial/hip single malt. I've read it's most likely a young Laphroaig or Lagavullin. It's a bit raw though.

        Second Bowmore and Ardbeg. Very partial to Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich as well. Although the latter is hardly smoky.

        1. re: estilker

          However, Bruichladdich does make the Octomore, which it seems was made specifically to cram in as much smoke and peat as possible.

          I haven't tried any of the Octomore bottlings, so not sure if it is more of a gimmick or an actually drinkable Scotch.

          1. re: nickls

            Octomore is technically the peatiest Scotch in parts per million of peat phenols coming off the still. I have only had the first edition, but I thought it was very good, not just a gimmick by any means; huge smoke but also some sweetness to balance it out and better than Bruichladdich's other peated experssion, the Port Charlotte series.

            The more recent editions are even peatier but I haven't tried them yet.

            1. re: sku

              I'll keep my eye open for Octomore. Sounds like something I would like a lot.

              My latest addition was the Organic Bruichladdich.

              1. re: estilker

                I agree with sku about the Octomore. I'm not the biggest fan of peated scotches (I despise Lagavulin and most Laphroaigs), but for some reason I found the second Octomore quite nice. Not something I'd drop $150 on, but not something I'd turn down if offered to me. If I remember correctly, it's a younger whiskey, maybe three to five years or so. It's very well balanced for being a peat bomb (and for being so young), without the salty undertones I find in most Islays.

        2. re: kagemusha49

          +1 on Laphroaig for the strength of peat.

          1. re: Terrie H.

            I'm not familiar with some of the labels mentioned here, but I wouldn't want any more peatiness than Laphroaig.

            1. re: Veggo

              Total agreement - when I was a novice and had the Laphroaig, my first comment was that it tasted like the air smelled in Scotland. I was visiting the outer Hebrides. It is the peatiest (is that a word?) that I've tasted.

          2. re: kagemusha49

            Johnny Walker Double Black is nice (certainly far, far better than the normal JW), but it's a relative lightweight in the smoke department. The smokiest I've tried to date has been the Lagavulin Distillers Edition from two or three years back. Compared to it, from a smokiness perspective, the JW Double Black might as well be vodka.

            1. re: kagemusha49

              This comment could go as well in the cheap drinks thread, but I agree, and thank the folks on this board, for suggesting Black Bottle. It's the best blend I've found so far, nice smoke, good flavor, and half the cost of a single malt.

              1. re: comestible

                Have you tried the Finlaggan malt, which is from Islay and sold by Trader Joe's for under $20?

            2. An interesting Whiskey Flavor Map has been circulating round the webosphere lately

              1 Reply
              1. re: BillB656

                Very interesting chart/map. Thanks for the link!

              2. I find McClelland's more peaty than smokey, and pretty mild compared to the monsters (Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin). It is heavy on the brine though, which makes sense since it is thought by most people to be 5 yr old Bowmore (seeing as Morrison Bowmore produces McClellands).

                Bowmore 12 yr is a well-respected Islay but has a very different flavor profile than the big three.

                1. Keep your eyes peeled for the Ardbeg Supernova.

                  And for my money, the Lahproaig Cask Strength is still the best Islay malt made.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: ellaystingray

                    I love the Laphroaig 1/4 cask. As soon as I pour it the wife says the smell is what she imagines eating tree bark is like.
                    Te Bheag is peaty / smoky as well (although far less than Islay single malts), if you haven't tried it, a real nice blend.

                    1. re: ephnright

                      I second the quarter cask, though I recently tried the triple wood in a bar and quite liked it. Didn't get to try it side by side with anything I know, but my impression was just a little sweeter than the QC.

                      1. re: ncyankee101

                        I'll keep an eye out for 3x wood.
                        Must go pour myself a dram of Te Bheag.

                        1. re: ephnright

                          nyc is spot on with sensing a little more "sweet" in the profile of the Triple Wood--that is the Sherry Cask talking to your tastebuds. In regard to the Quarter Cask (which by the way is a feat of coopering as they disasemble used Bourdon barrels and reform them into smaller casks) I've found to not be quite as rich but just as aromatically powerful. The higher surface area to volume ratio seems to me, to mellow the whisky just a touch.

                          Now this being said, I am talking about very nuanced personal preferences. I've never tasted anything Master Distiller John Campbell has done that I don't like. I just always find myself going to the Cask Strength.

                          1. re: ellaystingray

                            Specifically, I believe they use Makers Mark casks, for the 1/4 cask. An awesome spirit! Must pick some up, been awhile.

                            1. re: ephnright

                              BeamGlobal owns both Laphroaig and Maker's Mark so that would figure, but I don't recall hearing that the 1/4 cask is specifically Maker's. I do know that Laphroaig "usually" uses Maker's Mark casks though. So that might be true.