Whilst the Elements of Islay range was introduced in 2008, it was not until 2016 that the series expanded to include a blended malt – simply titled ‘Peat’. Initially bottled at a higher strength (‘Full Proof’), the ‘Pure Islay’ edition was released shortly after at a lower ABV of 45%. Peat Pure Islay is still bottled in the 50cl chemical flask style glassware that the Elements range is known for, but with the alcohol reduced down it allows those that prefer an ABV closer to golden strength the opportunity to explore the series sole blended expression. It’s priced at £29.95 and is currently available from the Whisky Exchange with some neat label personalisation for no additional charge.
Nose: Quite sweet, but with a strong peaty vein running right through the heart. Zesty lemons and vanilla custard conjoin with briny water, smoked kippers, tar and medical surface wipes. In the background some pine needles and slight minerality – slate and granite. The addition of water brings out further sweetness with barley sugars and smoked honey-roast ham – it also makes the peat a touch more ashy – coal dust and burnt chalk.
Taste: An oily and viscous arrival that seems stronger than the 45% ABV would imply. The development takes us on a journey from sweet through peat into spicy. Starting quite saccharine with apple pastries, lemon curd pie and candied fruit sweets, the mid-palate delivers pungent coal smoke, medicinal cleaner and log fires, before the back palate introduces pepperiness and a touch of sea salt. Water again sweetens further – but more with fruitiness rather than overt burnt sugars. Fresh lemons and an orchard fruit basket.
Finish: Medium to long and mixing up sweet fruits with pungent smoke and cask bitterness – successfully.
Elements of Islay’s Peat is a sweet aperitif style whisky for those who prefer the more smoky side of things. There’s lots of character here, but, the focus is more on fruity sweetness than it is on overt and intense coastal peating – and that’s no bad thing at all.