I was sent these samples to participate in a twitter tasting, but weren't able to participate so decided to put them on the blog instead. Lukasz (one of the Edinburgh Whisky Blog guys) now works in marketing for Inver House (anCnoc, Balblair, Pulteney, Balmenach and Speyburn) and he occasionally sends me a sample or two even if he once described me as the toughest reviewer on the internet, I took that as a compliment :-)
Look at the tools
The weird names of these whiskies, rutter, tushkar and flaughter are the actual names of traditional tools used to dig peat. If you look at the labels you can see drawings of them.
On my first trip to Islay in 2001 I have actual tried to use a tushkar, when I "helped" some locals cut some peat near the airport. I think I was no good at it, as they decided after 3 minutes that they didn't need my help anyway.
All three are NAS (No Age Statement). All are 46%
rutter is peated to 11ppm, flaughter to 14.8ppm and tushkar 15.0ppm
Peat is measured in phenol content parts per million (ppm). Peated whisky is normally associated with whisky from Islay, where Bowmore is 20ppm and the rest is higher with Caol Ila/Lagavulin at 35ppm and Ardbeg/Laphroag in the 45-55ppm range. So by the peat content this is lightly/medium peated. This is before tasting them, I still expect some peat, as peat deterioate with time in the barrel and as this is NAS therefore likely to be younger whisky, I still expect the peat to be present.
Drinking too much peated whisky in my early years has sometimes made me peat immune though
Here we go
1. anCnoc rutter. 46% 11.0ppm
Matured in american oak hogshead
My immediate reaction when nosing this is youth, but it's almost immediate overtaken by a very nice warm citrusy nose. Is citrus normally coming with a "warm" feeling to me. No.
Easy to drink. A faint hint of peat, but this is more about juicy fruityness to me. Citrus, little bit of vanilla, lip balm,
The finish has a little bitterness, much more vanilla and is again fruity and citrusy. Medium-long. And even more vanilla. Loads. The finish is a winner on this one.
A bit youthful, but if you like vanilla, peat and citrus this is your thing
2. anCnoc flaughter. 46% 14.8ppm
Matured in a selection of american oak casks
Again a little young on the first impression, but not much. Sweetness and maltyness is the first thing coming into my mind, the a bit of peat. This is like a slightly sweeter version of rutter, more oily, and again a lot of vanilla. Creamy vanilla, a full bodied dram. Slightly more peaty than the rutter as the ppm also suggests.
3. anCnoc tushkar. 46% 15.0ppm
Matured in first refill american ex-bourbon barrels (This means right after bourbon, I asked!)
Wow, this is very spicy vanillaed, the fresher wood really shows. Very fresh, the peat is also apperent but still on the subtle side. Again, like the others, I have the vanilla dominating the finish, and the vanilla in the tushkar finish is a lot more present, compared to the first two. Really nice
The tushkar is for the swedish market only
These drams would be a perfect way to introduce peat to people who are a little fragile to the Islay style
I am glad they didn't do any marsala, redwine, grand marnier or tokaji finish or whatever way it's trendy to ruin whisky these days, but chose this way of presenting this style in different lights!! But where's the cask strength version ?. A few bottles for entusiasts wouldn't hurt. I actually think that the swedes should have gotten a full strength version. Us scandinavians like rough strong whiskies, and peat is very popular
Note: I am positively biased to AnCnoc, they hosted one of the best events I have joined at the numerous Spirit of Speyside festivals I have attended. You know, one of those events that is affordable, the whisky free flowing and the tour and tasting relaxed and personal. Doesn't happen that often anymore in the big world of whisky