Big Peat

The liquid itself is 100% Islay single malt from the distilleries of Caol Ila, Bowmore, Ardbeg, and Port Ellen and is bottled without added color or chill-filtration at 46% ABV. The whisky is so pale as to be almost clear and bears a striking resemblance to Lagavulin 8 year, although the same could be said of most younger peated malts. That Port Ellen component is interesting, as Port Ellen is basically gone from retail markets.

Longrow Peated

People who have been around this industry for awhile will probably remember Longrow C.V., and can rest assured that Longrow Peated is that same cult favorite in a new dress. … It is fully peated and aged in ex-bourbon without any sherry cask influence. It’s also not chill-filtered, has no added coloring (indeed it’s quite pale), and has no age statement. I’d place it somewhere around 9 years, but it’s hard to tell since it’s possible for a blend of ages to be used in NAS bottles.

Lagavulin (8 year)

We have here an 8 year-old Lagavulin bottled at 48% ABV, and so pale that it’s almost clear. This was originally released as the distillery’s 200th (bicentenary) anniversary limited edition, but has since been added to the core range. With that, the information available online dries up. To my palate, this seems to be missing the sherry portion found in the 16-year. Like the 12-year, I would guess this is entirely from ex-bourbon casks.

Talisker Storm

In 2013, around the beginning of the NAS craze, Diageo released Talisker Storm to much marketing fanfare and an initial retail price of around $70 – $80. The only difference between it and the flagship Talisker 10, a perennial favorite, was the lack of an age statement and the use of (some) re-charred ex-bourbon casks…

Springbank (10 year), Revisited

Springbank 10 is classic stuff. Aged 10 years (It even says it on the bottle! How old-fashioned!), not chill-filtered and bottled at 46% ABV without artificial coloring. Springbank does things the “old way” and is unapologetic about it. On-site floor maltings, worm tubs, and even (some) direct-fired stills. They also do a crazy “2.8-time” distillation and the malt is partially peated. Why? Because that’s how they’ve always done it.

Highland Park Magnus

Like the rest of the line, Magnus is partly peated and partly aged in “sherry seasoned” American oak casks. Before you ask, that just means they took regular old ex-bourbon casks and sloshed some sherry around in them for a few months. This is becoming pretty standard practice in the scotch whisky industry, since nobody drinks actual sherry these days and real sherry barrels are hard to come by. Some refill casks are also used, but the distillery says the sherry-seasoned casks are a “high percentage” of the vatting. If you say so, Edrington. …

Springbank (15 year)

I love Springbank. It’s one of my favorite distilleries. It’s also one of the very few distilleries left in Scotland that embodies the “old school”, tradition-laden whiskymaking techniques that marketing departments elsewhere salivate over. … This can backfire, though. Most of the technological improvements in the whisky industry over the past 100 years have been implemented for the sake of consistency in the resulting whisky. …

Connemara (12 year)

Connemara is named after a defunct Irish distillery, and the whiskey is produced as Irish whiskey (and Scottish) would have been before the advent of drum maltings: with peat fires. Connemara is reportedly peated at around half the phenol ppm of Islay malt, rendering it milder. There is some confusion about the source of Connemara’s peat…