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Smokey Scotch

Updated on January 15, 2013

The Smokiest or Peatiest Scotch in order.

During the production of most Scotch Whisky, a level of peat smoke is introduced to the kiln to add phenols, which gives a smoky aroma and flavour to the drink. Phenols and, hence 'smokiness' can be measured in PPM (Parts Per Million). It is widely suggested that the Smokiest Scotches go better with Cigars, a traditional accompaniment to a dram. As a rule of thumb, Scotch Whisky produced in the Islay region of distillaries have the smokiest flavour, though peat smoke and levels of phenol are added during the process of production in other regions also.

The following is a Top 10 list, in order of Phenol levels (Highest to Lowest) of the Smokiest Single Malt Scotch Whiskies...

Octomore

Islay

152 Phenol p p m

Octomore 5 Year Old / Edition 03.1 Price - 84GBP

70cl / 59%

Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Distillery Bottling

The third annual release of 'normal' Octomore has arrived - unlike the previous bottling, Orpheus, this has not been wine-finished and, at 152ppm, is said to be most heavily-peated Octomore released so far.

Ardbeg Supernova

Islay

Supernova has a peating level of over 100ppm

Ardbeg Supernova 2010 Price - 85GBP

70cl / 60.1%

Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Distillery Bottling

This is the 2010 version of Ardbeg Supernova, and no doubt will be hoping to follow on from the success of last year's edition, which scooped Scotch Whisky of the Year from Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2010.

Longrow

Campbelltown (Non Islay)

approx. 55 Phenol PPM

Longrow 10 Year Old - Price 41GBP

70cl / 46%

Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Distillery Bottling

Made at the Springbank distillery, Longrow differs from its more famous sibling in that it is made with peated barley - and as such shares characteristics with the nearby Islay distilleries. Complex and peaty.

Ardbeg 10 year old

Islay

The distillery generally aim for 52+ ppm of phenols.

Ardbeg 10 Year Old Price - 36GBP

70cl / 46%

Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Distillery Bottling

For peat-lovers, Ardbeg 10yo is probably the highest-quality 'entry-level' single malt on the market, and the distillery many Islay connoisseurs would choose as their favourite. A whirlwind of peat and complex malty flavours, this is an exuberant, in-your-face whisky to be cherished.

Laphroiag

Islay

in the 40-43 ppm Phenol range

Laphroaig 10 Year Old Price - 27GBP

70cl / 40%

Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Distillery Bottling

Laphroaig 10yo is a full-bodied, smoky gem, with a residual sweetness and a hint of salt amidst the seaweedy, peaty characters before a long warming finish. A classic dram.

Bruichladdich's Port Charlotte

Islay

Phenol Level 40 ppm

Port Charlotte PC8 / Ar Duthchas Price - 65GBP

70cl / 60.5%

Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Distillery Bottling

The new Port Charlotte from Bruichladdich is here, arriving the same week that it was named Best Whisky at the 2009 Whisky Fringe in Edinburgh. Last year's PC7 was regarded as a return to form, it looks like this is another improvement.

Lagavulin

Islay

Lagavulin 16 Year Old - 39GBP

Malt Maniacs Awards 2010: Non-Plus-Ultra Award (Daily Drams)

Phenol level - 40 p p m

Lagavulin Single Malt is characterized by its strong peat flavour and iodine overtones. The iodine flavour tends to divide tasters into love it or hate it groups with no middle ground, and it may not be suitable for new Scotch drinkers. The standard Lagavulin single malt is 16 years old, though they have also released a 12 year old cask strength variety, as well as their Distiller's edition, finished in Pedro-Ximenez casks. Phenol levels running at 40 p.p.m.

The Islay representative in the 'Classic Malts' series is a deep, dry and exceptionally peaty bruiser. Probably the most pungent of all Islay malts, Lagavulin is not for the faint-hearted but inspires fanatical devotion in its many followers.)

Ledaig

Isle of Mull (Islands - Non Islay)

Phenol Level 35ppm

Ledaig 10 Year Old Price - 30GBP

70cl / 46.3%

Island Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Distillery Bottling

The 2011 revamp of Ledaig, with new packaging and a solidly peaty whisky. Good work from Tobermory.

Caol Ila

Islay

in the 30 p p m of Phenol

Caol Ila 12 Year Old Price - 31GBP

70cl / 43%

Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Distillery Bottling

Medium weight, but still packing plenty of potent phenols, this is a refined, powerful dram with a compensating oiliness. A balanced, peaty beauty.

International Wine & Spirits Competition 2010: Gold Medal - Best in Class

Talisker

Isle of Skye (islands - Non Islay)

Phenol Level 25-30 ppm

Talisker 10 Year Old

70cl / 45.8%

Island Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Distillery Bottling

A massive success as the island representative in Diageo's 'Classic Malts' series, Talisker 10yo's profile keeps increasing as more fans discover its intense coastal spicy, peaty character. A truly elemental malt.

Malt Maniacs Awards 2010: Best Natural Cask Award 2010 (Daily Drams

Peat Smoke and Spirit
Peat Smoke and Spirit

Despite its tiny size, seven different whisky distilleries populate the Isle of Islay, where some of the wildest and most flavorful hops in the malt-whisky spectrum are grown. Scotland’s renowned island is uncovered in this fascinating account, including its rich history—chock-full of stories of shipwrecks and storms—and its luscious wildlife and landscape. Interwoven in the narrative are tales of the whiskies themselves, traced from a distant past of illegal stills to their present-day prosperity. The flavor of each spirit is analyzed and the differences between them teased out, as are the stories of the notable men and women who played an integral part in their creation. Wonderfully evocative, this is the story of a place and a taste never to be forgotten once sampled.

 

How Smokey do you like your Scotch?

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Cheers!

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Laphroaig. That is all.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Ardbeg Supernova 2009 was a little bit better than 2010 but iy difficult to get the exakt propostion of water, Maybe i was lucky whit 2009.

      Bruchichladdich Octomore 4:2 ppm 167 have not yeat opend.

      Cheers!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I didn't know until now that there was such a thing as smokey scotch, you are single handedly bring up scotch sales around the world!

    • LoKackl profile image

      LoKackl 6 years ago

      Very creative niche! Never imagined scotch whiskey could be this fun!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thank you for stopping by and squidliking me! Though I'm not much of a drinker I do appreciate the lessons here. I did not know there were so many different brands of scotch! Two sips and I'm done :)

    • filmic profile image

      filmic 6 years ago

      Nice Lens!