Guest Writer Angus MacRaild has been exploring “Peat in Scotch Whisky – From Fire to Flavour” for us.
Two out of the three ranges of single malt whisky that we make are peated. As we look to bring back some malting capability in-house, the peat we use is on our mind more than ever. We know from our mailing list survey apropos of the UN Climate Summit back in November that it is on your minds too.
This company has a fine wine background, so we’ve been pursuing ideas about terroir in whisky since 2001 – it’s interesting to have Angus’ perspective and analysis of peat in the context of terroir, and in historical, political, industrial, environmental contexts too!
Here’s an introduction to the themes and structure of Angus’ three part essay series.
Angus MacRaild [AR]: The story of peat in the production of Scotch Whisky is the story of how a carbon-rich organic material transitioned from a fuel source to an agent of flavour.
Peat is an ingredient which bears considerable responsibility for lending countless whiskies their soul. And, as such, it cuts to the heart of all that is important and pressing about whisky’s future as a drink, and as a cultural phenomena.
Peat is many things, but most of all, it is land. Vast tracts of Scotland are carpeted in bogs and peat moss, the reality of its physical reach has impacted the course of civilisation in this country – and others – for centuries. Before we dug and burned it, its marshy geography curtailed our desire lines, restricting our travel along specific routes and pathways. It drew out creatures that we hunted and ate; it captured and channelled water that we drank; and in its depths we sank our dead. Peatland in our minds, much like whisky itself, is mythical, ancient and Celtic – despite also existing abundantly in far-flung locations around the world.