Where does "smokiness" come from?

Love bourbon but still enjoy an occasional foreign whisky pour as well? Discuss some of your favorites here.

Moderators: Brewer, brendaj

Where does "smokiness" come from?

Unread postby Vital » Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:55 pm

I'm not big on Scotch nor i know a lot about it short of "it's made in Scotland and they can use used barrels" but all scotch (and irish whiskey while i'm at it) i'v tried share the same "smoked" flavor both in taste and aroma.

Why?
What is it that gives it that smoked taste and smell? And is it really ALL scotch whiskey or is it just so happens that all i've tried have that smokiness but there's others out there that do not?
Vital
Registered User
 
Posts: 63
Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:25 pm

Re: Where does "smokiness" come from?

Unread postby Wasatch » Fri Jan 27, 2012 11:14 pm

Could not tell ya, but I do know that in beer I'm not a big fan of it.
Cheers!
User avatar
Wasatch
Registered User
 
Posts: 283
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2011 12:09 pm
Location: Utah

Re: Where does "smokiness" come from?

Unread postby ebo » Sat Jan 28, 2012 9:50 am

The smoke comes from the peat that is used to dry the barley and stop the malting process. Not all Scotch is peated. The most heavily peated stuff is from Islay.
User avatar
ebo
Registered User
 
Posts: 182
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 6:45 pm
Location: Massillon, Oh...... home of the Tigers.

Re: Where does "smokiness" come from?

Unread postby Zanaspus » Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:23 pm

If you want to taste sherried vs smokey Scotch, look for "Speyside" on the bottle. 99% of Speysiders are unpeated. Inexpensive ones would include Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, and Cragganmore (Cragganmore 12 is a cracking dram at the less than extortionate price of $45-$50).

That being said, I'm a smoke ho. :lol:
Zanaspus
Registered User
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:11 pm

Re: Where does "smokiness" come from?

Unread postby tinsmith » Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:56 am

After the barley is "malted" (sprouted), it has to be dried quickly in a kiln. If not, the sprouting will go too far, consuming the precious fermentable sugars and adding nasty tasting elements. In both Irish and Scotch whiskies, this is done by raking the malt out onto a large floor, under which a fire is burning to heat the floor. In Scotland, the smoke is allowed to enter the room with the malt as it dries. Some distilleries add peat (old, combustible, decayed heather, which covers much of Scotland's valleys and coastal lowlands) to the fire, which imparts a unique aroma and flavor. Smoke without peat has a dry, woody character useful for balancing the "sweetness" of the malt whiskey. Peaty smoke is oily-sweet. Some scotches take this to an extreme and are real peat-bombs, which a cynic might describe as gasoline or motor oil, intended for use by blenders as a flavor element. If the malt is more moderately peated, the peat-smoke will impart a unique flowery-oily smell. In Highland Park (from Orkney), the peat is younger, and will be more heather-flowery. On the west coast, and on Isla, the peat is older and deeper, further along in its eventual transformation to lignite (and eventually to coal), and will therefore have a more coal-tar or medicinal quality that you either love or hate. On Isla, peat affects the whiskey in another way, by way of the water. The water used in Isla whiskies runs through peat bogs, so it picks up quite a bit of that coal-tar flavor. So, if you drink a malt like Lagavilin, see if you can distinguish the difference between the peaty-water and the peat-smoke elements.
tinsmith
Registered User
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:01 am

Re: Where does "smokiness" come from?

Unread postby Roscoe » Fri May 11, 2012 1:53 pm

Attended a whiskey event in NYC last night at the Roosevelt Hotel put on my the Malt Whiskey Society and The Robb Report. Lots of scotch and some irish. Point made in the previous post regarding Highland Park having a 'young' peat as opposed to the 'older' peat from Islay is not true. The peat in Orkney is as old as the peat in the south. The difference is there is very little wood in the peat from Orkney so it is predominately heather. The peat in Islay contains a good amount of wood and that's what makes it so intense.

Two of the best whiskeys I tasted last night was an 11 yr old Talisker finished in sherry and a 16 Lagavulin also finished in sherry.

You learn something every day.

Roscoe
"Crisis occurs when women and cattle get excited".....James Thurber
User avatar
Roscoe
Registered User
 
Posts: 130
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2011 1:24 pm
Location: Fairfield, NJ

Re: Where does "smokiness" come from?

Unread postby MacinJosh » Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:57 am

Why Does Scotch Smell Like Band-Aids?

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2 ... -band-aids
Josh

"The last time I turned down a whiskey, I didn’t understand the question."

"Sometimes I drink my whiskey neat. Other times I take my tie off and leave my shirt out."
User avatar
MacinJosh
Registered User
 
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:06 am
Location: Noblesville, IN

Re: Where does "smokiness" come from?

Unread postby Roscoe » Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:01 pm

New ones or used ones?

Roscoe
"Crisis occurs when women and cattle get excited".....James Thurber
User avatar
Roscoe
Registered User
 
Posts: 130
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2011 1:24 pm
Location: Fairfield, NJ

Re: Where does "smokiness" come from?

Unread postby gillmang » Thu Aug 02, 2012 3:57 pm

A lot of malt whisky (single malt) has no peat at all in the malt. Many blends don't emphasize the peated side but most probably have a hint of it, e.g. Dewar's, Ballantine's.

Take Abelour say, or the regular Macallan, or Glenmorangie, there is no peat in them and I don't find them smoky. The band-aid taste is probably malt congeners which are still noticeable often even in older ages, but I'm probably used to it and don't view it that way. (Just as I insist Irish pure pot still is waxy but I know many people who say that can't detect that in it).

Taste is as always and forever personal, and things hit people differently...

Gary

P.S. A stray thought: since all Scotch or most of it anyway is aged in ex-bourbon barrels, could the charcoal taste imparted by the used barrel explain it? It would be stronger presumably in bourbon - thus why would someone who dislikes Scotch like bourbon? - but in bourbon you have wood sugars and tannins which cover over that taste to a considerable degree. In Scotch, there is no more red layer to enter the whiskey but the charcoal is still there and often they re-char the barrels. It sounds strange perhaps to suggest it, even to me, but stranger things have happened in the world of drink...
User avatar
gillmang
Vatman
 
Posts: 2137
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:44 pm


Return to Scotch Whisky

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests