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Friday, 6 April 2012

For Peat's Sake

Damn it. The sun is shining outside, it's Good Friday, I've already consigned a wheelbarrow full or junk from the house to the garage and it's not even lunchtime yet.

But whilst I would usually use this quiet time of reflection, pre-fry up, to consume something a little lighter in weight, say a cup of Earl Grey tea, or maybe if i'm feeling daring, a lively Bloody Mary, a particular bottle has been sat at my desk for the past two weeks and it's high time I reviewed it.

The bottle in question is called Peat's Beast. According to the bottle, it is 'an intensely peated single malt Scotch whisky, un-chill filtered, as it should be' and is also 'a ferociously full-bodied single malt packed with a big bite of untamed peatiness.'

OK, so we've got one thing straight- it's a peated whisky. Its age and origin are unknown and apart from the wonderful Gerald Scarfe-esque illustration on the label, there is little information to hand, other than it is very light in colour.

The sun is still brilliant outside and before i've even uncorked the bottle, the house has just become very smoky, due to my neighbours having a small (yet unnervingly unruly) garden fire, so not the best of circumstances to try this beast. But whilst most of South London wash their cars or listlessly push hover mowers over their unkempt lawns, which is the usual Good Friday practice, i'm going to scale a peaty precipice - or something like that.

Peat's Beast - 46%

Nose: Bung cloth, moist oaky staves (like sticking your nose in a fairly used Hogshead), some dry sherry, spent matches, cream sofa and a hint of wood smoke. Dig a little deeper and some smoky bacon notes emerge, but it is not as ferocious as some of the big hitting Islay monsters, such as Ardbeg's Supernova, or Bruichladdich's Octomore. In fact, rather than a roaring fire, it is more like the dampened embers of a bonfire the day after a rain soaked firework display.

Palate: What the nose lacks by way of peat, the palate comes up with . It is youthful, harsh, aggressive peat smoke at first, not oily on the palate, but quite thin. There is also a huge dusting of white pepper, malted chocolate, some musty, mossy notes and then a little sweetened apple juice on the death. A little unbalanced, but peaty nonetheless.

Finish: The smoke lingers for a while, replaced with more peppery notes, dying down and leaving more of that burnt bonfire aroma/flavour in the mouth, like you've just gulped down some smoky-but-moist November air.

Overall: Peat's Beast may not be the big hitter you're looking for- if - and I repeat, if you are already an aficionado of big peaty whiskies, but to the uninitiated, this will certainly do the trick. In the arena of big-tottin' peated bottlings, Douglas Laing's Big Peat probably goes that extra yard in the smokestack stakes, but in my opinion, both pale into the background compared to Compass Box's Peat Monster, which has an additional complexity underneath all that smokiness.

Think i'll go off to enjoy a glass of light and refreshing Rosebank in the garden now... Oh, no.. wait...