Given no other knowledge of a scotch distillery, most whisky lovers would choose to know just one thing: Is their whisky smoky or not? The answer isn’t so simple, as more single malt producers play both sides of the fence. Exceptions to the rule are exciting for both fans of a distillery, who get to see a new side of their old favorite, and detractors, who might discover they enjoy a distillery’s whisky after all. Unpeated versions will offer little to no peat smoke, while peated renditions show obvious smoke. So choose a distillery, then have it your way.
Single Malt Scotches With Both Peaty and Unpeated Versions
AnCnoc 12 year old vs. AnCnoc Cutter
Known for light and honeyed malts, Knockdhu added a peated range in 2004.
Arran 14 year old vs. Arran Machrie Moor
Machrie Moor, the peated whisky from Arran, is produced in just one batch each year.
Balvenie 12 year old DoubleWood vs. Balvenie Peat Week 2003
For one week each year, Bavlenie distills using heavily peated malt, smoked over Highland peat.
BenRiach 10 year old vs. BenRiach Curiositas 10 year old
With new ownership in 2004, Benriach embarked on a path of both peated and unpeated whiskies.
Benromach Organic vs. Benromach Peat Smoke
Organic Benromach includes a hint of smoke, but there’s no comparing the intensity of Peat Smoke.
Bruichladdich Laddie 10 year old vs. Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 year old
This Islay distiller’s core range is unpeated, but they make up for it with Port Charlotte and Octomore.
Bunnahabhain 12 year old vs. Bunnahabhain Toiteach
Gaelic for “smoky,” Toiteach is the peated entry from this distiller of primarily unpeated Islay whisky.
Caol Ila 18 year old vs. Caol Ila 12 year old
A Diageo Special Release offers a rare glimpse beneath the smoky cloak of this Islay whisky.
GlenDronach 12 year old vs. GlenDronach Peated
Peat represents a rare deviation from the house style, but you’ll still find sherry cask flavors.
Glenfiddich 12 year old vs. Glenfiddich Fire and Cane
For their latest innovation, peated whisky is finished in rum casks for a smoky, sweet treat.
Glenlivet 12 year old vs. Glenlivet Nadurra Peated Cask
Nadurra gets its smoke not from peated malt, but from finishing in casks that held peated whisky.
Hazelburn 12 year old vs. Longrow
These whiskies represent unpeated and heavily peated expressions from Springbank.
Macallan Double Cask 12 year old vs. Macallan Rare Cask Black
Smoky Rare Cask Black is an outlier for Macallan, whose reputation is built upon sherried single malts.
Scapa Skiren vs. Scapa Glansa
While it starts off much like the unpeated Skiren, Glansa is then finished in casks that held peated whisky.
Tobermory 10 year old vs. Ledaig 10 year old
Peated malts are now designated by Tobermory’s original distillery name—Ledaig.
Tomintoul 16 year old vs. Tomintoul Peaty Tang
This typically gentle and fruity malt gets a surprising peaty twist from the use of peated malt during distillation.