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Friday, 18 July 2008

In Peat We Trust

About a month or so ago, we at Caskstrength were comfortably sat overlooking a marvelous bay, watching the sun go down, heady dram in hand and full of deliciously fresh seafood.  Put simply, we were at Bruichladdich, the weather was great and we were happy, safe in the knowledge that there were more great drams to follow and sunsets to gaze into. 
And so to now. You find me tapping away during the supposed 'July silly season', the rain pouring onto my Azalea's, black clouds bruising across the South London sky, with no let up in sight.   
But strangely, this is exactly the mood I am looking for.  Strangely, I'm hoping for the imminent thunderstorm to hang around, just long enough until i've finished the dram i'm about to review.  
In an ideal world, perhaps we all look for the perfect surroundings to enjoy a cracking dram.  A light and fragrant Rosebank reminds me of those endless summer days, (where have they gone btw?) with freshly cut lawns and slightly muggy, starry nights just before the weekend. 
Same goes for Longrow- maybe it's just me, but a glass or 2 of the cracking 18 year old evokes a leafy autumnal Sunday feeling, post-roast lunch, before a refreshing country walk. 
Peat smoke on the other hand. Now that's a whole different set of circumstances altogether. 
If Islay were a novel, it'd be 'The Hound Of the Baskervilles'- dark and brooding, full of intrigue and mystery, with images of remote, rain-lashed caves and chilling howls in the squally night air.  
Over dramatic it may sound, but take a second to open lets say, a Lagavulin 16 on a similar night, wherever you may be- and a shiver will undoubtably run down your spine. 
That seems to be the very essence of what Bruichladdich have tried to capture in their new 'Trilogy' of whiskies;  Waves, Rocks and Peat.  All evocative words that make one undoubtedly think of Islay.  Perhaps not the idilic Islay we experienced last month, but the real Islay. 
So, on this rainy night i'm curled up on the sofa sampling 'Peat'. The scene is set... can it live up to my romantic ideals?

Bruichladdich 'Peat'- no age statement- 46%vol - non chill filtered - 70cl

Nose: Wait for it.... sweetness! ginger, heather and creamy custard. And this is before the peat!! Is that right?  Ok, there it is- very delicate peat at first, but dig deeper and a more earthiness emerges, - really in keeping with the 3D3 that this is essentially replacing.  There is also no overpowering medicinal elements, just really well-rounded peat as you'd hope for. 

Palate: Warming spiciness, sherbet lemons, apple and more of that pleasant earthiness. The initial sweetness gives way to a slightly salty mouth feel, not unlike a Port Charlotte and it certainly feels like the younger whiskies here take a slight precedence.  

Finish:  Surprising.  The length is completely unexpected here, again that subtle peat returning, with maybe a touch of strawberry, tobacco and then leading into a dryness.  A saltiness lingers longest but not in an unpleasant way. It just keeps on coming, with waves of more earthiness.  

Overall:  It hasn't stopped raining outside and i'm already onto my 2nd glass. This doesn't disappoint.  For a Sub- £30 bottling, 'Peat' offers more than just an introduction to the brown stuff- it is delicate, relatively complex in the finish and perhaps more importantly- really, really drinkable. 

(note- normal service has now resumed, the sun is back and caskstrength are sauntering around the croquet lawn, Rosebank in hand...)