REVIEW: Peated Malts of Distinction Range

let’s begin

I was recently fortunate enough to be sent what was essentially a care package of peated malts, complete with patchiness, matches and a Laphroaig tasting glass to celebrate the curation of Beam Suntory’s Peated Malts of Distinction range.

Interestingly enough, they were all NAS (No Age Statement) and are connected simply by their peaty flavour profile.

The whiskies in the range are:

If we were going to insinuate that there is some kind of family or lineage connecting them other than their parent company, they could be classed as cousins.

It baffles me as to why some commentators rip into single malts like this for not having age statements and being made of higher young malt content than others but in truth the market has demanded so much from the Scotch market over recent years that this is exactly where whisky is going. Aged stock just is not available to continually create new aged liquids to satisfy the market demand.

Anyway, back to why we are here. The Peated Malts of Distinction Range.

I lit the peat cones and got on with reading the press information pack.

Supplied with the samples were a few stats and infobytes:

  • Peated malts category has experienced an 8% growth in the last two years
  • Peated malts represent 17% of total malt volume sales in EMEA
  • Interestingly, Sweden, Germany and The Netherlands account for over 7% of peated malt sales in EMEA

Distillery: Ardmore
Strength: 40% ABV
Additional: Chill Filtered, 80% peated malt, 20% unpeated malt
Price: £29.99

I’ve been looking forward to trying this single malt since it was announced a number of months back to replace the much loved Ardmore Traditional and I must say I was quite disappointed.

Nothing really stood out to me on nose, taste or finish. Maybe I was being harsh as I genuinely did love the Ardmore Traditional but I would not go too far out of my way to get this one although the packaging is really lovely!

Official tasting notes

Nose: Creamy, with appealing savoury notes of cured meat and even a touch of horseradish, with some subtle smoke lurking in the background.
Palate: Soft mouthfeel of gentle peat and a touch of menthol, with clove, apple and pear.
Finish: The gently warming peat slowly dissipates.

Distillery: Laphroaig
Strength: 40% ABV
Additional: natural colour, uses a blend of spirit from Laphroaig Quarter Cask, PX Cask, Triple Wood (European Oak casks) and the 10 Year Old.
Price: £34.99

Big fan of Laphroaig, it was in fact the Laphroaig 10 that convinced me to start drinking the powerful whiskies I know and love today and this one did not disappoint.

You can tell it is a younger, not yet defined whisky but it already has some character to it with a vinegary nose that evokes sawdust and maybe a hint of dried fruits.

The palate is very sweet and sour, iodine notes as expected but with white pepper and smoky finish.

Definitely a good recreational whisky that you should have in the house, unlikely to be one for special occasions but for those of us that like a wee dram of an evening you cannot go too far wrong with Laphroaig Select.

Official tasting notes

Nose: Classic, medicinal peat notes up front, supported by citrus-y, chocolate-y sweet notes and soft barley.
Palate: The peat is there, but it’s taking it easy and letting the bright notes of lemon, green apples and mint stand out. Darker baking spice notes develop further on.
Finish: Medium length, peat remaining in sight until it’s over.
Overall: It doesn’t pack a huge punch of peat, which might be just the ticket for introducing someone to the wonders of Islay’s smoky expressions.

Distillery: Bowmore
Strength: 40% ABV
Additional: a marriage of first-fill and second-fill ex-bourbon casks
Price: £33

Having found it quite hard over the years to find a Bowmore that I could get on with and consider a distillery favourite (aside from Devil’s Cask II), I was intrigued to see if this small batch NAS could turn my head.

Frustratingly this dram left me wanting as I had feared with it being more Haig Club than Bowmore in composition but I would still advocate it as a recreational dram for the which it is designed.

Inoffensive, not going to rock your world but definitely a good one to share with guests who may not be connoisseurs.

Official tasting notes

Nose: floral violets and candlewax, a hint of pot pourri/air freshener (but not enough to put me off), window putty, sour tropical fruit, light muddy peat and a hint of pine needles.

Palate: the pine needles come back, along with sweet peat, soft vanilla cream and a touch of parma violet.

Finish: quite long, with floral smoke, and sour wood and fruit fading to a soft end.

Distillery: Cooley
Strength: 40% ABV
Price: £29.16 

With this being my last dram of the session I was excited to be transported to the peaty kingdom of Ireland to see what they could dish up.

Guess what? This was my favourite dram of the evening, without doubt, and almost unexpectedly as I am not always too keen on Irish whiskey.

Lots of sweet smokiness, as if you’re being slapped in the face with it (in a good way) then a really smooth palate that is well rounded, perfectly balanced and leaves only positive feelings peaty perfection.

GreatDram this one – really is.

Official tasting notes

Nose: Well-smoked and peated, heather freshness and floral notes with a honeyed sweetness and a little wood.

Palate: Full and smooth with notes of malt and peat, honeyed smoke and barley sweetness.
Finish: Long and pungent with honey and peat smoke.
Overall a really interesting experiment and the range is really intriguing.

What is useful to note is that with price points around the £30 these are affordable for most punters and could even be considered as bargains when you think about the brands and the quality that has gone into them.

Tags: ArdmoreBowmoreLaphroaigPeated Malts of Distinction


My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

You might be interested in

More from the blog

Leave a comment

Login / register