5 of the best alternative peaty whiskies to enjoy this Whisky Month

Tired of the same old peaty whiskies? Here are 5 alternatives to the drams you know and love to enjoy this Whisky Month.

Published 12th May 2017
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

May is Whisky Month, and that means there's never been a better time to celebrate your love of Scotch whisky.

For peat heads (lovers of smokey whiskies) that usually means enjoying a dram or two of the big three - Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin.

But should you fancy trying something new then we've pulled together a list of five great peaty drams that you might not know.

Benromach Peat Smoke

(Distillery: Benromach, Region: Speyside, abv: 43%)

Picture: Benromach

Yes, we are going to start with a whisky from the mainland.

The reason for this is simple, we want to offer drams that aren't your usual peaty favourites - and as such not all from Islay.

We are big fans of this particular distillery (as you'll no doubt have seen) and for good reason, they tend to make consistently great whiskies.

The Peat Smoke has a subtly smokey flavour that is more earthy than the iodine notes of Islay whiskies.

Robust and flavoursome; barbecued meats and citrus fruits battle it out for dominance to the background of a deliciously smokey finish.

Longrow Peated

(Distillery: Springbank, Region: Campbeltown, abv:  46%)

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Picture: Whisky Exchange

If you are a fan of peat and you haven't tried Longrow yet then you have to rectify that right away.

Springbank is a distillery that is rightly lauded for its wonderful traditional whisky, and Longrow, their peated expression, is a truly exceptional dram.

With notes of charred marshmallows and sweet fruits, it's delightfully moreish.

And should you be lucky enough to find a bottle of Longrow Red, the annual cask release, then grab at with both hands as its an even more wonderful version of this already delightful dram.

BenRiach Birnie Moss

(Distillery: BenRiach, Region: Speyside, abv: 48% )

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Picture: BenRiach

Having previously been a quietly unassuming Speyside malt, the decision to create a range of peated Speyside malts really thrust BenRiach into the public eye.

We could have picked any of their three main peated expressions (and the much missed Arumaticus Fumosis) but the Birnie Moss - named for the windswept moorland close to distillery - is an absolute beast of dram and more than capable of standing side-by-side with Islay's best.

Tomatin CuBocan

(Distillery: Tomatin, Region: Highlands, abv: 46%)

Picture: Whisky Exchange

Named after a mythical hellhound who has allegedly stalked the residents of the village of Tomatin for centuries, Cù Bòcan is a very different animal from the other whiskies on this list.

Lightly smokey and very creamy (imagine eating an ice cream cone at a bonfire) Tomatin's peated expression is matured in a mixture of ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and virgin oak casks to give it a subtle richness.

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Kilchoman Machir Bay

(Distillery: Kilchoman, Region: Islay, abv: 46%)

Picture: Kilchoman

We couldn't make this list without at least one Islay malt, and in Kilchoman distillery (the youngest - at time of writing - distillery on the island) and their Machir Bay expression, you have a truly unique dram that's hugely different to some of its more established neighbours and distinct in its own right.

With its relatively younger age (it's a NAS expression but the distillery itself has only been up and running for just over a decade) really suiting the peat and the lack of that medicinal character of other Islay malts you get a whisky that's best described as liquid charcoal combined with butterscotch.

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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