After a particularly amazing dinner with one of our favourite couples in Singapore, Chad and I were invited to come over and check out their place.
Admittedly, they had me at “Islay collection”.
Islay is home to some of the most iconic Scotch whiskies. I have always loved reading about Islay for the “controversy”: Some argue that the terroir is inauthentic (the water used may or may not be from city mains, the malt may be European and not necessarily Scottish, etc). There was also the notion about thirty years ago that it was too smoky and too rough (as well as lacking in character) to be considered palatable.
These days, however, Islay whisky* is all about the peat.
Before I talk about that, let me backtrack and explain a very simplified version of making whisky/whiskey:
- Grow then harvest grain
- Add malt (optional)
- Grind/mill the grain and/or malt
- Mash/cook grain and/or malt
Peat comes into play because Islay uses peat fires to dry malted barley. This gives Islay whisky a distinct smoky flavour (or “peatiness”).
The Islay whiskies we tried that night were particularly peaty: The first was the Octomore (registering at 100 ppm in terms of peatiness level… Most whiskies register only up to 50 ppm). They made me try some without water or ice, and I was amazed… Octomore was so smoky; the smell clung to the glass long after the drink was gone.
I have always been a traditionalist, so I knew I had to have some of the Lagavulin on the table. It was the iconic one: The 16 year old single malt. Intensely peaty, it also has a powerful mouthfeel to it.
To add to the experience, there was so much conversation, art, music, and overall GV that night.
I also got to touch a Rickenbacker guitar (I’ve only seen them in music videos, particularly Slash’s 12 string). OMG.
What’s your favourite whisky/whiskey region? Cheers!
*Whisky is used for Scottish (Scotch, Single or Blended Malt) and Canada whiskies. Whiskey is used for Irish and American whiskeys (like Bourbon, which is unique to Kentucky).
Special thanks to A&B for having us over!