The final part in our guide to peated whiskies explains the Peat Scale and introduces a peated malt whisky described as ‘vanilla ice cream at a beach bonfire'
Peated malt whiskies owe much of their complex flavours to the characters of each unique peat that has been used to smoke the barley used to make whisky. Peated malt whiskies are some of the world’s most prized spirits, loved for their wide array of flavours.
THE WHISKY PEAT SCALE
The intensities of peat smoke are actually calculated and rated according to something called the Peat Scale. The peat’s phenol (a chemical produced when peat is burned) count is measured by parts per million or, in whisky geek lingo, PPM. Lightly peated whiskies factor up to 15PPM, medium peated whiskies fall around 20PPM, and a heavily peated whisky is anything above 30PPM.
As mentioned in our earlier Peated Whisky Guide Part 1, the Islay region of Scotland is one of the world’s most prized whisky locations, thanks in-part to the area’s unique peat. Once lying under the ocean, Islay peat brings notes of seaweed and oceanic materials to the whisky when it’s burnt.
SALT OF THE EARTH
The Bowmore distillery was founded in the late 1700s and is situated on the shores of Loch Indaal in Islay, the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. These classic Islay whiskies use distinctive local Islay peat that gives a definite maritime sea saltiness on the finish. Bowmore 12 Year Old has a medium peat level of 20-25 PPM, and is lovingly described by the distillery as “vanilla ice cream at a beach bonfire”.
BOWMORE 12 YEAR OLD: TASTING NOTES
- Appearance: Warm amber
- Aroma: Subtle lemon and honey balanced beautifully by trademark peaty smokiness
- Flavour: Sweet and delicious heather honey and gentle peat smoke, with a long, mellow finish