Lagavulin 16. This was my first bottle of a “peated” scotch. Scotch was really one of the last styles of whisk(e)y for me to get acquainted with, and even now I’m still finding my way around it. Even after “getting into” cocktails for a while, I didn’t know what peat was for a long time. I had heard of it described as a “smoky dirt kind of flavor,” but I honestly could not imagine what that meant. Well, a sip of this stuff definitely fixed that.
What is peat? Peat is essentially decayed vegetation that’s built up over thousands of years and is actually the early phase of coal formation. Like coal, peat is also a source of fuel when burnt. The island of Islay in Scotland is plentiful (or used to be) of peat, which has traditionally been used in whisky production. Peat is burned to create heat for the drying process of barley (the raw ingredient in scotch), and in turn the smoke from the peat gets infused into the barley. This is what creates the characteristically earthy and smoky flavors you find in Islay scotches like Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Ardbeg, etc.
Anyway, if you are new to peated scotches, I would highly recommend a bottle of Lagavulin 16 if you’re ready to fully dive in. It’s a cult loved product for good reason. Let me know if you have any favorite peated scotches!