10 Highest-Scoring Peated Whiskies from the Fall 2018 Buying Guide

When putting together the ten highest-scoring whiskies from the Fall 2018 Buying Guide, we realized that the list was heavily weighted to peat. The Fall issue’s theme, after all, is smoke, and Whisky Advocate’s reviewers took the charge seriously by tasting and scoring a slew of peaty, smoked whiskies.

So instead of a single top ten list, we’ve made two—one for the peatheads, and one that includes a more diverse array of whiskies.

Check out the ten highest-scoring peated whiskies below—and pick up a copy of the Fall issue for a whole lot more!

Ardbeg Corryvreckan
95 points, 57.1%, $90

Part of the permanent Ardbeg range since 2008, Corryvreckan is created from a blend of standard Ardbeg and Ardbeg aged in virgin French Limousin oak casks. Smoky bacon and seaweed, plus dark berries, prickly spices, walnuts, lemon, and sweet peat on the nose. Sweet and savory on the palate, with more lively spice, woodsmoke, phenols, and licorice. The finish is lengthy, with peat, sea salt, pepper, and black coffee. —Gavin Smith

Samaroli Over an Islay Rainbow 2017 Edition
94 points, 45% ABV, $471

Aromatic with smoke, this lays down thick chocolate ganache, toffee banana, and salted caramel. It bowls you over with chocolate-dipped sultanas, soft melon, and ripe berries ahead of a spicy middle section replete with pepper, coriander, cinnamon, fig rolls, baking chocolate, and a dry finish of cocoa and peppery spices. As blended Islay malts go, pretty special. —Jonny McCormick

Ardbeg Uigeadail
94 points, 54.2% ABV, $80

Launched in 2003, Uigeadail remains one of Ardbeg’s core offerings. Matured in a mix of sherry and bourbon barrels and bottled at cask strength. Peppery peat, warm tar, coffee grounds, machine oil, and black pepper on the nose. The palate is complex and rich, offering orange segments sprinkled with sea salt, dark chocolate, malt, and ever-present sweet peat. Nicely balanced. Lengthy in the finish, with smoky caramel. —Gavin Smith

Laphroaig 10 year old Cask Strength (Batch 010)
93 points, 58% ABV, $70

A turbocharged version of the formidable standard 10 year old, Cask Strength varies in ABV from batch to batch. Tar and antiseptic hit the nose immediately, along with peat smoke, malt, newsprint, and new leather. There’s also lemon, vanilla, and brine. The sinewy palate mirrors the nose, adding charcuterie and cocoa powder. Predictably medicinal and phenolic in the very long finish, with balancing sweet malt. —Gavin Smith

Laphroaig Triple Wood
93 points, 48% ABV, $70

Initially aged in bourbon barrels before being transferred into quarter casks, and ultimately oloroso sherry butts. The sherry influence adds an additional dimension to the quarter-cask style, hence an oily nose of dates, vanilla, tropical fruits, and bonfire smoke. The palate is drier than might be expected, with Laphroaig iodine, barbecued meats, muted sherry, and peat smoke. The finish comprises dried fruits and lots of oak. —Gavin Smith

Highland Park The Light 17 year old
92 points, 52.9% ABV, $300

Following last year’s release of The Dark, this parallel 17 year old cask-strength expression was matured in refill American oak. The nose yields vanilla, oats, ripe pears, and mild wood-fire embers. Supple and initially sweet on the palate, with icing sugar, tangerines, and developing darker, spicier notes. Lengthy in the finish, with spicy cedar oil. Proof that Highland Park doesn’t need sherry casks to be good. (4,500 bottles for U.S.) —Gavin Smith

Ardbeg 10 year old
92 points, 46% ABV, $56

Classic ‘southern shores’ Islay from the onset: salty and medicinal on the nose, with smoked haddock, citrus fruits, and milk chocolate. The palate yields full-on hot peat, pipe tobacco, black coffee, licorice, and more chocolate. The finish is long and malty, with sweet smoke. Non-chill filtered. —Gavin Smith

Laphroaig 10 year old
92 points, 40% ABV, $50

This expression offers an uncompromising note of brine-laden peat and iodine, with charcoal and sweeter fruit notes also present. The palate is equally out there, with old-fashioned fabric Band-Aids, bladderwrack seaweed, black pepper, smoldering peat, vanilla, caramel, and sweet oak. The finish is as big as everything else, with barbecue, iodine, and asphalt. Still a classic! —Gavin Smith

Balcones Peated Texas Single Malt
92 points, 63% ABV, $80

Subtle and rounded smoke on the nose, balanced by lemon, grilled pineapple, and chocolate-chip cookie dough. A big, tannic, and chewy palate, chocolaty and extremely fruity—hints of Meyer lemon, grilled plums, walnut paste, and five-alarm chili wrapped in a thick, spicy smoke. A fiery finish benefits from water. Their first peated release and it’s a showstopper. (531 bottles; distillery only) —Adam Polonski

Kornog Roc’h Hir
91 points, 46% ABV, $150

Made by the sea in Côtes d’Armor on direct-fired small stills attached to worm tubs, which the French elegantly call condenseurs serpentins. This has smoked fish, iodine, pine forests, driftwood, lemon zest, and clean medicinal qualities rather than peatiness. Waxed lemon, light fudge, lemon bonbons, and vanilla from the bourbon barrels ride a crescendo of pepper and ginger before smoke obscures all before it. A match for any Islay. ——Jonny McCormick

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