Big Peat Small Batch “Blended” Islay Malt

I like to think that I’m a steely rock, inscrutable and impenetrable to the grasping wiles of advertisers and their kerned and pantone-d ministrations, but really, I’m just as much of a sucker for good packaging and marketing as the next guy. Ardbeg, for example, does a masterful job mixing the tradition and mythos of Scotch & Scotland with great design and savvy media know-how. Bruichladdich, while hit (Black Art) or miss (Links) in my book, pushes well past the traditional in much of its packaging and design, and is at least successful in creating a unique look for its unique drams. I like when a design can both capture the tradition and gravitas of Scotch but also bring a new refinement to it. So…with that in mind, when I saw the “Big Peat” bottle for the first time, I gotta say, I was pretty turned off. A vatted malt only aspiring to peat featuring a silly name and wind-blown cartoon on the label? I dunno, that just didn’t make me want to try it.

I probably would not have given myself a chance with Big Peat were it not for a recent K&L tasting in Redwood City which included it along with several other Islay malts, but in the end I’m glad I did. Big Peat is bottled by Douglas Laing & Co. and is a non-chill filtered marriage of Ardbeg, Bowmore, Caol Ila, and surprisingly, Port Ellen.

The Nose: Fair amount of peat reek and smoke, not a real pin-pointable smoke, just good, general…smoke. There are a few light coffee and vanilla notes and faint vague fruit somewhere but mostly it’s mostly just Islay funk.  I have to say the first whiff of this was a nostalgic jolt to the system, it took a few moments but then I got it…Paris Metro station…most likely La Motte-Picquet Grenelle.

The Palate: Perhaps unsurprisingly…big peat, not in an overwhelming way like Supernova or Octomore, just big, smokey, diesel-y, rubbery, the works. There seemed to be a little ripe apple struggling to be heard, but mostly it was all about the peat.

The Finish: C’mon, a Islay blend called “Big Peat”?  What do you think the finish is gonna be like?

Thoughts: Aside from the label, this is well-executed stuff.  It’s blended well in that I couldn’t really pick out any one component from another, they all work surprisingly well together. For something called “Big Peat”, this does show a tiny bit of restraint and balance, but mostly it’s a bold showcase of peat and smoke. As you can imagine, there’s not much complexity or depth here, it’s pretty much just like its name. For a no age statement blended malt this is a little on the expensive side ($100), I’m not sure why I’d want to grab this if I can have the components (which I like better on their own) for less.

Big Peat Small Batch “Blended” Islay Malt

46% ABV

Score: 84

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8 thoughts on “Big Peat Small Batch “Blended” Islay Malt

    1. Yeah, the only sources around the Bay Area have for around $100. Way too pricey, in my opinion. I prefer the Ardbeg 10, Caol Ila 12 and Laphroig 10 to this and can have each of them for under $50. That’s not to say it’s bad whisky, though, it isn’t, it’s good stuff…just way too expensive.

  1. Thanks for posting your review. I have been wondering about it for awhile but that $100 price tag makes it tough. Where did you try it at?

    I agree that it is over priced too. I was checking out my normal online store in Japan and it was about $60USD there as well.

    1. This was another one of the malts they had at the K&L tasting at Martin’s West. It might be worth it for $60 because it is good and in a way, interesting, but for a 100 bucks…no, there are a lot more worthy ones out there for that kind of money.

  2. Binny’s (in Illinois, but they ship) had the cask strength “Christmas” edition for ~$65 last year (2013). If you like the basic version, that CS version would be worth looking for this December.

    1. I’d love to try the CS version, I’ll have to look for it around these parts (Minneapolis). It’s funny to think that when Big Peat first arrived it was usually around $100/bottle – totally not worth it. These days, I see it for around $60, which is far more tempting. Glad to see the CS version is reasonably priced as well.

      Thanks for commenting!

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