There’s a theme that I think links the many articles I’ve read on MALT, and by extension their authors, that whisky should be all about the experience. A dram of whatever shared with friends, or even friendly strangers, is vastly preferable to squirreling away bottle upon bottle of the latest limited release with little to no intention of ever breaking it open. Personally, I couldn’t agree more. At its best, whisky brings people together, whether for only a few fleeting minutes, for an afternoon, or perhaps ultimately, for a lifetime! A shared hipflask with fellow hikers at the summit of Carn Liath, an impromptu mid-week catch up in Glasgow’s Pot Still, a long winter’s evening in with friends sharing our favourite bottles, and so on, for example. I am fortunate enough to have enjoyed these and many other whisky-based good times; long may they continue.
Living in Glasgow, or central Scotland more generally, I am blessed with a plethora of options when it comes to trying new and interesting whiskies in the company of fellow fans, since various bars and whisky clubs host at least monthly tastings, as do spirit shops, and even some hotels—plus the odd invite where I get to tag along with my social media-savvy better half. Not all tastings are created equal, of course, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who has been left underwhelmed by the presentation of a brand ambassador apparently only interested in spewing forth the approved distillery patter. Yes, there is room for amusing distillery anecdotes or the odd historical tall tale… as long as there is also a willingness to be open, to try and answer questions honestly and *gasp* even to be prepared to take criticisms.
My most enjoyable experiences have often been those hosted by someone independent, with no obvious agenda and no more than the usual biases that we all possess (and should try to be mindful of where possible). What constitutes good value for money in the world of whisky is an oft-discussed topic these days, with good reason, and each will have their own opinions. In my own (admittedly limited) experience, these types of events have been some of the best value for money I’ve found. I may agonise on where to spend my finite bottle budget, but I’ll scarcely hesitate at dropping £50+ for a pair of tickets which on their face grant no more than a handful of small measures to be enjoyed over a couple of hours.
A well-constructed tasting should aim to offer something for everyone if possible. As a relative newbie on the scene, I always tend to find something interesting presented that I’ve not tried before, which leads us neatly to my whisky review. The final dram of a recent line-up was Peat’s Beast, a 25 year old single malt from an undisclosed Islay distillery. The bottle is presented non-chill filtered at cask strength of 52.2 % and with a label that I would generously describe as far from a design classic. How about the much more important contents, though? With thanks to my girlfriend Dora (who keeps far better records than I do) for her input with tasting notes:
Peat’s Beast 25 year old – review
On the nose: Lovely mellowed iodine strikes me first. A nice subtle smoky peat, perhaps a hint of burnt hay. There is a definite coastal element, smoked seaweed. There is a fruity sweetness too, of overripe berries. A nose that requires plenty of time to appreciate.
In the mouth: A toffee sweetness up front which combines well with the dense oily spirit. The peat then comes through: ashy and drying, but not overly so. A world away from the more brutish young Islay malts I’m accustomed to. Dry spice and black pepper kicks in and lasts into the finish, which is satisfyingly long.
I very much enjoyed my meeting with Peat’s Beast, which I think is reflected by my score for a whisky whose retail price approached £200. In the current market, this represents pretty great value for money for a well-aged Islay single malt… I think. Therein lies the problem: the increasing cost of whisky, Islay malts and older expressions, especially, means that I have spent my precious pennies in other regions or on lesser age statements and have little frame of reference for Peat’s Beast. My fault, I suppose, for only really getting into whisky in these boom times. For now I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the next interesting tasting or event where I can experience something new to expand my horizons, and to better inform my opinions in the future.
Lead image provided by the Whisky Exchange where this bottle has since sold out and other retailers seem the same.