Whisky Reviews

Big Peat


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When it comes to American whiskey I’ve generally got nothing against a modern looking bottle, I even quite like a bit of innovation. Put a modern looking bottle of Scottish whisky in front of me, however, and I’m bound to put my nose up. I don’t know why that is, really, though as a marketing scholar I guess it may have a little something-something to do with my associations with the respective countries. I see Scotland as traditional and whisky as quintessentially Scottish, and as such I prefer a traditional, old-time design.

Anyway, that’s why, even though it has intrigued me, I had never tried Big Peat. That all changed a few weeks back though, when I was sent a 20oz mini bottle by the folk at Douglas Laing. So the question is, can a modern take on a Scottish classic live up to my expectations – or is my bias justified?

As soon as you open the bottle it’s very clear where the malts that make up this ‘vatted malt’ hail from, as you’re immediately hit by peat and smoke. Hiding behind this potent maltiness there’s some sweetness to be found, in particular some slightly burnt homemade caramel (if you’re anything like me, that’s the only kind of homemade caramel you will have ever had) and, I think, some licorice. The palate is certainly peaty, the smoke is there but by no means overpowering, and again there’s a certain sweetness to it which reminds me of burnt caramel and something else… I want to say popcorn, but that would overstate it a bit. Think buttery popcorn dipped in the previously mentioned caramel and you’re there, roughly.

I don’t know if you noticed, but I was doing my best not to give away what I thought about this drink in my taste notes – thought I’d build up some suspense! Didn’t really work, did it? Ah, well. Now, to answer the question I set earlier, my bias certainly was not justified. This whisky is as Scottish as Haggis, and that could never be a bad thing. I would even go so far as to agree with Jim Murray in crowning it the Scotch Vatted Malt of the Year. If I’m to be completely honest, I’m even starting to warm to the design now that I’ve had the bottle around for a bit. A great choice if you’re intrigued by Islay whisky,  and pretty good bang for your buck.

What I’d really like to know, though, is where I can get my hands on one of their umbrellas – I’m on the hunt for a big, sturdy umbrella that can handle the sometimes quite harsh Scottish seasons, and it certainly looks like a good contender. If you happen to see one in a shop, let me know!

Eye: Light Riesling.

Nose: Peat! Smoke, burnt homemade caramel, licorice.

Taste: Peat, smoke, buttery popcorn dipped in burnt caramel.

Want to buy this whisky? Available in: UK & World (click)

About Whisky Critic

My name is Martin and I live in Scotland. I love fine things in life, such as gourmet food, travelling around the world and, last but not least, whisky (naturally, I’m partial to a tipple of whiskey or bourbon as well). I have tasted hundreds of whiskies during the recent years and I finally decided to share my experience.

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