Know what gives your Whiskey its character
The peat bogs of Scotland are world famous for adding loads of flavour to their whiskeys. Essentially, they are layers of fossilized plant material that has accumulated over 1000 to 5000 years – roughly a metre of the stuff takes one thousand years to appear – and they lend a wonderful smokiness to the golden liquid, making peat one of the most sought-after flavours in whiskey, lending a great robustness and structure to the drink. Drying the damp whiskey malt over a peat fire enables the distinctive flavours to infuse into the barley grain yet, pungent peat smoke is strong stuff and the more you have the smokier the whiskey will be.
But the burning question is what does peat taste like and why is this flavour so desirable?
Generally, whiskeys can be classified on aroma, flavour and body which can then range from light, delicate to rich and smokey. The degree of smokiness can range – depending on the amount of peat used to smoke the malt but often the flavour profiles can also be further classified into more individual flavour profiles. Some common ones include: saline, grassy, cereal-like, herbal and nutty. The southeastern island of Islay off the Scottish coast. Most of the top distilleries are based here and are considered the finest in the world.
Laphroaig, Ardberg TEN, Highland Park, Octomore, Talisker and Lagavulin consistently make the lists around the world and are all highly-rated. Lagavulin is a highly-valued whiskey with beautiful notes of sherry. Rich and thick on the palette along with hints of fig, vanilla and dates guarantees you a lovely softness that contrasts nicely with the peaty robustness.
I have personally tried Laphroaig a few times and while quite a bold whiskey – it is one that will make an impression. It is big on flavour and aroma and is utterly distinctive including flavours of chilli, cardamom and a subtle vanilla popping through but the overwhelming flavour is more savoury and seaweed-like.
So, with so much diversity out there, you really have to just get out there and try a few for yourself and get a reading on how much smokiness you dig in your beverage.
So, where can you try these whiskies in Dubai?
These are my top, personal recommendations for whiskey bars around the city that all house comprehensive selections of this smoky amber gold.
With the entrance hidden behind a bookcase, this exotic, little Japanese whiskey bar is situated at the Dusit Thani hotel along Sheik Zayed Road. With its concept designed around the old-fashioned but newly fashionable again speakeasy, it has a great vibe and it just a little mysterious to feel that you are somewhere other than Dubai – perhaps somewhere in a little hole-in-the-wall in Osaka. There is no doubt you will find what you are looking for here. Ask the knowledgeable bar staff for a recommendation if you not sure what you like, they are sure to make an excellent suggestion or three.
Housing one of the most extensive whiskey collections in the Marina, you will be pleasantly satisfied with offerings at this establishment. Ranging from the reasonable to the ultimate premium whiskeys indulge your whims here and extend your taste bud sensation range. Richly decorated in leather and wood, this place is a great to kick back and enjoy a dram or few.
A contemporary restaurant located in the DIFC, this establishment is glamour personified to the maximum, everything just tastes better when surrounded by oodles of glamour. The gorgeous lighting at their bar sets the tone for a glamourous evening surrounded by an eclectic mix of patrons. This place is all about luxury and their whiskey collection is notable and should not be missed.
Located on the 24th floor of the Jumeirah Beach hotel, this bar is fast gaining a reputation for being one of the more sophisticated bars on the circuit. They serve a variety of vintage wines and cocktails, and their whiskey collection is up to par. So, I highly recommend a stop here for post-dinner drinks. The killer views of the coastline and Burj Dubai will captivate and make for a memorable evening.
Located downtown near the Creek, this bar is divided into three separate areas and is as classy as one can get. Perfect for sundowners as you can watch the great fireball in the sky go down over the water as you sip on your peaty whiskey; making for a low-key but elegant way to while away the hours. This bar is one of my personal favourites. It doesn’t try too hard to impress and instead relies on its surroundings to lend ambience while serving up beverages that mixed to a high standard. A must try.
So, now you have no excuse. Get out there and try some of the smoky and peaty whiskey single malts around Dubai this weekend and impress your friends with your whiskey tasting skills. Dare to be different!