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  • Rory

Bord Na Mora

Its time to talk about Peat, no not one of Irelands most illustrious scrum halves, Peated Whiskey.

I find that as I go through my whiskey journey, whiskeys are sentiment stamps, you know who got you each bottle , why you got it, or where you tasted it. They are like the dram memory chain of life.

When I think of peated whiskey, sitting in my A rated home. I think of lots of things. I think of being at home in my parents with the fire roaring shifting some turf and logs onto the fire. I think of mosing around Galway on a wet Saturday having a Pint. I think of some of my best times sitting in the Blue Light, high above Dublin city – the best pint in Dublin with the best view – smelling of spilt Guinness and then the peat of the 3 open fires. Craic and good times.

My first ever peated whiskey was Bill Phill, it knocked me for six at first. I never smelt anything so strong and it was stonker for my first ever peated dram. I did a tasting a few months ago with Nigel and some of his friends - some in Ireland and some in Netherlands. We ran through the list starting with Waterford, moving to Bunnaabhainn and then subtly moving to the Port Charlotte Scottish Barley Heavily Peated. What a magical whiskey. My first nose brought back the memories of sitting in a dreary Galway in Garvans or Freeneys having a pint – this being utter bliss in our current lockdown state.

Once I tried the Port Charlotte, I really couldn’t get enough of the peated, I rooted out an old sample of Bill Phil and polished it off. I tried to even buy Port Charlotte , it was sold out in the Celtic Whiskey shop and everywhere else too. Devastated.

I then needed to make my mind up quick and get some peated in for Christmas to sit beside and guide the slap of Guinness through some pedestrian Pro-14 games. If I can’t go to the Sports Ground, I sure as hell will transport myself there.

I went hunting online and it was a toss up between a trusted peated and one I never heard of. I decided to go for Connemara, in keeping with my West of Ireland thought process. I got a bottle in Tesco on offer at €30. I opened it – bare in mind this was quite a while after my Port Charlotte trance. I was blown away, initially. I got the caramel and soft under current with the smoke it was lovely. I’m generally a huge number one fan of Jameson black barrel, on my first tasting on the birth of my friends’ baby, I got the char and smoke, sadly since tasting Port Charlotte it has pretty much blown out my sense of for the Black Barrell. Nothing else is strong enough or peated enough. I want the peated laid on thick.

With the turn of the legislation at the start of the year, offers on whiskey have become few and far between , much to the annoyance of us dram hunters. I went down to my local SuperValu to top up my Decanter of Powers, only to see it on offer and fully sold out – I just missed the stampede . I missed it. I panicked. What do I turn to next I thought, do I go for a Tullamore, A Jameson, oh no I went for Kilbeggan.

I’ve never tried Kilbeggan before and I am a little disappointed in a confused way. I like the flavour and nose of it – albeit it has a very short finish, however it is very moreish. Sadly, its clearly the underwriter of Connemara Peated. Last night, whilst enjoying another Munster defeat, I poured a dram of Connemara and a dram of Kilbeggan. Well, take the peat out and its Kilbeggan, add the peat and I’ve Connemara. It really disappointed me as Peat whiskeys should be special and warming.

I am at a peat crossroads, I don’t know where to go now, I need a peated whiskey, do I order Bill Phil or do I go with Connemara 12 year old to strike the lot. I’ve spent too many nights on my phone when I can’t sleep browsing the sites. I looked up the Silkie, Hinch, Dunvilles and do let me know if I am missing one.

I tried Blackpitts the night of Port Charlotte but couldn’t really get anything as I was wiped from the Charlotte, so I’ve ordered it from Dick Macks to give it another shot at earning a place on shelf. I’ve spent too many night looking and reviewing peated whiskeys in the usual sites now I am nearly peat blind. But I do crave it so much, I nearly even ordered one of those Irish cottage incense kits which runs on turf pellets. In fact, I will order the cottage, with my little fake stove, a can of Guinness a nice dram – the smiles will flow.

That said I’ve a tasting coming up soon, and the infamous Talisker Dark Storm is on the list. I’ve read so much about it. I haven’t tired it yet, its been very hard not to open or nose the samples. I know if I did open it, it would be gone. This is a serious contender, by reputation, however it is on the pricey side @ €90, for the litre though.

If anyone reading this has any peated recommendations, do tell and comment below there are some whiskey vouchers in my pocket burning a whole that need to be put to work.

My search for Irelands most peated whiskey continues.

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