I have been “learning” about peating whisky. I have been blogging about it actually in some blogs here on WordPress. First two blogs are linked below.

  1. What the phenols!
  2. The Phenols that make the peat

The other blogs about phenolic compounds I blogged about are in my attempt to make a whisky flavour congener overview. You can click on the links and find out even more about peaty notes.

Head Sub Descriptors
A: Peaty 1. Burnt Tar
A: Peaty 1. Burnt Soot
A: Peaty 1. Burnt Ash
A: Peaty 2. Smokey Wood Smoke
A: Peaty 2. Smokey Kippery
A: Peaty 2. Smokey Smoked bacon
A: Peaty 2. Smokey Smoked cheese
A: Peaty 3. Medicinal TCP
A: Peaty 3. Medicinal Antiseptic Germoline
A: Peaty 3. Medicinal Hospital

The only thing that I could not figure out is how the phenol level of Octomore becomes so high!

During the kilning the normal way of drying and peating the barley is over a “warm” smoke. This is explained best by the people that make it. The video below describes the process used at Highland Park.

So in short. Highland Park first dries the barley with a relative warm peat and coke fire. This dries and closes of the kernel and the phenols get “adsorbed” onto/into the barley. As the barley closes the shoot drops off.

I could not see a reason why Octomore would be any different, so when the laddiemp6 webcast was happening I shot of a question to Carl and hoped for the best. In the light of the Bruichladdich people being open about just about anything Joanne explained how and why Octomore is as peaty as it is! Go listen to what she says in answer to my question.

So what Joanne was explaining is that, for Octomore, the kilning and peating process differs from the “normal” process by “peating” with smoke sooner into the germination process. Normally the germination of the barley would take 5 days followed by 5 days of drying.

For Octomore the germination takes 2,5 days and than followed by 5 days of burning peat, but the 5 days smoking is also used for stopping the germination. A “cold” smoke is used that not only is adsorbed onto/into the husk, but actually makes it into the kernel itself, onto the flour/starch. The last 5 days also completes and stops the germination.

Please also note what Joanne says around 26:30 into the stream.

Joanne mentions how the barley, fresh from the kilning, doesn’t necessary smell like smoke and that the new make also doesn’t necessarily smell peaty/smokey. She goes on to explain that the peat reveals itself during maturation in the cask. This does make sense from a Maillard Lignin degradation reaction point of view.

I end with a quote:

“interesting!” ~ Adam Hannett 2015, laddiemp2