Restaurants / Bars

Don’t Dismiss the Peat

This Whisky Isn’t Just for the Daring — a Smoky Taste Test

BY // 11.03.17

The Balvenie. Those two words mean a lot to a lot of people. I’ve watched men and woman go all beatific when they are poured a dram — and that’s before they take the first sip. After that, all bets are off. Their eyes narrow, their breathing slows, and a look of contentment takes over. They are at peace with the world. All from a small pour of whisky.

If you are familiar with the above behavior, you’ll be happy to read that The Balvenie Peat Week is ready for your approval. (Yes, peat. But don’t worry, it’s a great pour.) Chances are you haven’t tasted this Balvenie product, because it’s new, but I’ve done it for you, and if you like peat in your whisky from time to time, I recommend this libation.

I sampled Peat Week recently with Jonathan Wingo and David Laird, Balvenie brand ambassadors, and have happily added it to my inventory. The “week” refers to the one time each year (since 2002) that the institution has distilled a batch of peated malt, and that 2002 vintage was just released, with a suggested retail price of around $99.

David Laird, left, and Jonathan Wingo can tell you a lot about The Balvenie. (Photo by James Brock)

“Being able to experiment with different elements of whisky-making and stock management is one of the most exciting and important parts of my job,” said David Stewart, The Balvenie’s legendary master of malt. “The new Peat Week bottling is a result of our continued efforts to innovate and trial flavors not typically associated with The Balvenie.”

There’s smoke here, of course, but you also get wonderful vanilla and a refined touch of honey. I tasted the Peat Week first without an added drop of water, and was surprised by the delicate smokiness. A minute or so later, I added the water, and my second experience was better than the first. Rounded and smooth are two adjectives that apply here, as does seductively sweet. Drinking this was a pleasure.

Some say the peat is bad, they don’t like it. I say, give the Peat Week a taste, and keep some on hand for friends who disagree with you about smokiness. You might even change your mind.

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