Friday, February 05, 2010

For Peat's Sake!

Come on baby light my fire! Photo: Lush Life Productions.
What can be up to 10,000 years old and 9 meters deep. Ireland, Scotland and even some parts Florida is covered with it? Why Peat of course!

But what is peat? Its is compressed organic matter..think a very young (in geological terms) coal
What is being compressed? Lichens, bog, trees, bushes, seaweed. Plant matter. A dried block used a fuel, and in fact, it is used for fuel all over the world, including in my Irish Granny's stove.

It is this unique fuel source that creates tasty, aromatic amazing Scotch Whisky. Ben at Beekman Bar & Books organized an amazing round table of Scotch Whisky Illuminati to discuss the merits of peat.
We like Scotch..scotchy scotchy scotch..down it goes in my belly! Lush Life Productions

This round table discussion also included a few wee drams of great and rare whisky.
The panel of peat professors were led by John Henry from Pipeline.
The "Peat Professors" were listed as:

Peter "malt maniac" Silver
Robin "peat monster" Robinson
Simon "Ardmore & Lahroaig" Brooking
Sam "Dr Whisky" Simmons
David "Supernova" Blackmore
Jeffery "Whisky life Magazine" Karlovich

Here is just a sampling of what I learned:

Peat is amazing at smoldering. Kilning maintains the enzymes for a good strong fermentation. Soak the barley. Let it grow and then drying and peating. You have to stop the germination of the grain and this is a smokey tasty way to do it.

We lit some peat on fire. I cannot tell you what special sense memory this brought back for me! I remember sipping some Paddy's Irish Whiskey from yellow tea cups with my Cousin Bridget while she stoked her peat stove that we huddled around for warmth. Or biking home from work through the streets of Dublin and smelling the peat cooking as I crossed over the Liffey.

But this is Scottish Peat! Very special, and it is this unique peat that makes Scotch, well...Scotch!

Islay Peat smells different that Irish peat. Not as sweet, but softer. Like warm saltwater breezes.

Moss imparts flavor in the peat, a lot of the air, sea water. Grass can make it harder.

If a scotch changes flavor over time, there is a strong feeling that that is due to distillation changes, not due to peat changes.

The great bounty of the magical peat! Lush Life Productions

Oh..the tastings!
Balvenie 17 - barley sucks up the flavor in peat. Heaven Hill, Lahroaig, Balvenie. 17 years old speyside whiskey on islay cask. Rare and unusual.

Fully peated highland. Spey river valley. Ardmore 25 year. Fruity floral. Nice sweet smokey burn. Delish! Tangerine peel nose. I really enjoyed this Scotch.

Ballechin sherry cask - like sucking a tire or an old band aid. Where is the bacon? Very interesting, but not for me.

Celp - Belgium seaweed whiskey - pre-peat. Its Green! Its weird!

Peat Monster reserve. Single malt blended, not blended whiskey. This is class stuff..very tasty.

Have we jumped the Shark with Peat? Hopped up to the point of just hopping it up? How smokey is too smokey?

I didn't always like the smoke! And thought I didn't like the peated scotch. Does that make me a girl? No, indeed, I have learned I just have more sophisticated palate and I appreciate the complex taste of peat and smokey scotch.

They say it is the most complex spirit in earth.

I say anything that can tasting like heather or smoked bacon is OK in my book.

We did get some kudos for coming to enjoy the peaty scotch, but alas, its still a lot of lads here:

Where are the ladies?!

Oh here they are!

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