drinks guide

PEATED WHISKY GUIDE: HIGHLAND WHISKY

Set amidst soaring mountains, lochs and castles, discover what makes peated highland whiskies taste like nothing else on the planet

Peated whiskies are created when distillers burn peat (which is decomposed vegetal matter – trust us, it tastes way better than it sounds!) to smoke the barley that’s used to make whisky.

As you can imagine, the flavours found in each whisky are influenced by where the distillery is situated and, as a result, the type of peat used. A coastal distillery for example, will give the whisky notes of seaweed and marine elements, while a highland distillery will bring notes of heather and bracken. And it’s the latter we are diving into today…

HIGHLAND FLING

Travelling north to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts country, you’ll reach the highlands of northwest Scotland, where soaring mountains, lochs and castles dominate the landscape. Here, distillers use the super-pure spring water and highland peat to create some of the world’s most prized whiskies.

Highland peat has a delicious sooty fireplace smokiness that’s earthy like wet soil and musty like compost, due to the large number of trees that used to grow in the fertile soil of the Highlands. 

REMOTE CONTROL

In a lofty location in a remote corner of Aberdeenshire sits the Ardmore distillery (pictured), situated at the highest point of the Hogwarts Express Northern railway line, 600 feet above sea level. It’s this railway line that Ardmore founder Adam Teacher was able to use back in 1898 to help his distillery establish and grow.

Today, Ardmore whiskies are created in much the same way. The water is still drawn from the naturally rising springs of nearby Knockandy Hill. The Ardmore remains the only Highland single malt whisky that’s been fully peated since its inception. Known for its unique smoky qualities, the Ardmore has an aging procedure that uses a quarter cask for its second maturation, making it dry on the finish.  

 

THE ARDMORE LEGACY: TASTING NOTES

  • Appearance: Light golden 
  • Aroma: Heather honey with cinnamon, toffee bonbon and subtle peat smoke
  • Flavour: Creamy vanilla spice gives way to more overt smoky charcoal, balanced by sweet honey and spice
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