Smoky American Whiskey Every Peat Head Should Try

Smoky American Whiskey Every Peat Head Should Try

July 3, 2019 –––––– Whisky Advocate, , , ,

If you're fond of peaty Islay scotches, there's a whole new world of smoke to discover in America. Distillers are using peat, mesquite, hickory and more to impart both subtle and strong smoke flavors on single malt, rye, and other styles. Stoke the flames of your enthusiasm for the smoky stuff with these whiskeys.


McCarthy's Oregon Single Malt—88 points, $55Clear Creek Distillery, Hood River, OregonMade using Scottish smoked barley and aged for around 3 years. Burnt marshmallow, graham cracker, and toasted grain flavors, with a good amount of smoke.Westland Peated Single Malt—86 points, $70Westland Distillery, Seattle, WashingtonMade using Scottish smoked barley and aged at least 2 years. A rush of deep vanilla and tapioca on the nose, with cream pie, French vanilla, cotton candy, and subtle smoke on the palate.Balcones Peated Single Malt—92 points, $80Balcones Distilling, Waco, TexasMeaty, with lots of baking spice and a dark, earthy smoke. Very long finish. Special release for the distillery's tenth anniversary; larger releases coming in the future. Made with Highland-peated barley.Fifty Stone Single Malt—not yet reviewed, $45Maine Craft Distilling, Portland, MaineSmoked using Maine-sourced peat and seaweed, this is one of the only whiskeys on the market smoked with American peat. Iodine, bandages, and saline, with some seaweed notes.


Whiskey Del Bac Dorado Single Malt—88 points, $54Hamilton Distillers, Tucson, ArizonaMalted and mesquite-smoked in-house, then aged for 1 to 2 years in the dry Arizona heat. Flavors of smoked brisket, dry-rubbed ribs, and dark chocolate with sea salt.Colkegan Single Malt—87 points, $55Santa Fe Spirits, Santa Fe, New MexicoMade using mesquite-smoked malt and aged in full-size barrels. Dry orange zest, white chocolate, and barbecue potato chips. Good structure with a lot of complexity.


Corsair Wildfire Single Malt—87 points, $50Corsair Distillery, Nashville, TennesseeMade with 100% hickory-smoked barley malted onsite at Corsair's malt house. Juicy and sweet, with chili and charred oak flavors and lots of smoke on the palate.


Sonoma Cherrywood Rye—84 points, $50Sonoma Distilling Co., Rohnert Park, CaliforniaMade with 80% rye, 10% wheat, and 10% cherrywood-smoked barley and aged for at least 1 year. Even a little smoke makes a difference. Fresh rye grain, black cherry, toasted sesame, and light, delicate smoke.

Texas Scrub Oak

Balcones Brimstone Whiskey—88 points, $60Balcones Distilling, Waco, TexasDistilled from roasted blue corn, the liquid spirit is then smoked directly using Texas scrub oak in a secret process. Rich, smoky, and heavy, with blackened corn, spicy bean chili, and dark chocolate flavors.