Smoky and Peaty
Are they Characteristic of Scotch whisky? Where are these special flavors come from? Is that smoky or peaty you smell? Which whiskies have distinct smoky? Which whiskies have typical peaty?
where is the peaty come from
We should let barley sprout firstly when we produce single malt whisky, it will release the starch present in the cell wall of barley. But we need pay more attention on it, it can’t let barley sprout overdone, otherwise, there are excessive starch consumption for germ growth, the alcohol output will be greatly reduced during the fermentation.
The next step is roast the barley, and stop the barley from sprouting. In Scotland, peat, which was readily available, was the best fuel for baking barley.
Peat, general refers to the soil of high water content, high mud content, incomplete carbonization, between mud and coal. When the Scots used peat to bake their barley, “phenolic” compounds from the barley were introduced into malt, giving scotch whisky its distinctive flavour.
There is another way to produce peat flavour, that is influence of oak barrels. The oak barrels are responsible for 60 to 70 percent of the flavor of whisky, so if the liquor is aged in oak barrels which is used to hold peat whisky, it will also give the whisky a peat flavor.
Classification of peaty
A. 1 ~ 5ppm is low peaty content, and most scotch whisky is low peaty, with a faint smoky, so you can't even feel it if you don't notice it.
B. 15 ~ 25ppm is middle peaty content, such as Talisker and Highland Park, with obvious smoky flavor, and Islay's Caol lla and Bowmore are also belongs to middle peaty content, with moderate but not strong "potion taste".
C. Over 30ppm is high peaty content. The famous of brand from Islay, Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin are typical heavy peat whiskies, with strong peat flavour.
where is the smoky come from
There are many factors bring the smoky. If the inside of the oak barrel is roasted, the smoky will be into the whisky, resulting in the smoky of burnt toast.
For the distiller which is heated by direct fire, the temperature is difficult to control. Part of the whisky in the distiller is coking due to the excessive heat intensity, resulting in taste of sulfur and gunpowder, it is also a kind of smoky.
Baking barley with peat also produce smoky. In addition to leaving phenols in the malt, peat also contains a smoky smell from incomplete combustion. So the smoky is often associated with peaty.