Robb Report Vices

For Peat’s Sake

  • Shaun Tolson

At the risk of sounding like a commercial for a Hallmark Channel original movie, we acknowledge that the holidays are all about creating lasting memories with the special people in our lives. And if those special people enjoy special spirits, we unabashedly recommend a trio of limited-release single malts. From an Islay whisky matured in first-fill sherry casks to two single malts matured in new North American oak, these Scottish spirits reaffirm the notion that it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Bowmore The Devil’s Casks

From the moment this 10-year-old is poured, it’s clear that this is no ordinary bottle of Bowmore. The dark mahogany color reflects the rich flavors found within the spirit, while its silky smooth texture delivers initial hints of caramel and butterscotch. Let your nose linger over the glass, however, and the scotch’s strength of character begins to reveal itself.

A dram of the Devil’s Casks ($89.99) in many ways resembles a three-act play. The buttery, caramel tones that open the performance transition to a touch of spice, with a peppery smokiness that lingers on your lips and the tip of your tongue much like a dash of cayenne. Subtle notes of bittersweet chocolate reveal themselves near the end, while the presence of peat (so unapologetically forward in a traditional cask of Bowmore) comes along in the final scene and with just enough power to linger once the spirit is gone.

Only 1,300 bottles have been allocated to the United States, with delivery dates scheduled for the end of November and beginning of December.

Auchentoshan Virgin Oak Limited Release

ʼTis the season for spiced cider and the reassuring aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, toasted vanilla, and candied orange. All are present in this unique Lowland expression that is triple-distilled and matured in charred, unused North American oak casks. The scent of spiced apples immediately wafts from the glass, and it’s followed by similar flavors on the tongue, including hints of brown sugar and traces of maple candy.

The sienna-orange color of this Auchentoshan ($129.99) conveys its light body and soft texture, though it still delivers a warming, velvety mouthfeel. The malt masters at the distillery declare it to be the ideal whisky for an emerging audience of younger whisky drinkers—those looking to enjoy it straight up or in a variety of cocktails. We mostly agree, but after one sip of this easy-drinking and complex Scotch, we can’t bear the thought of it sharing the spotlight with any other spirit. Pour it through a strainer and into a chilled rocks glass if you must, but sample it neat. The spirit alone delivers a myriad of flavors that no cocktail can replicate.

Approximately 2,100 bottles are set to arrive in the United States, starting in late November and early December.

Glen Garioch Virgin Oak

With the holidays comes Old Man Winter—at least in the Northern Hemisphere —and that means most of us will be searching for something to take the chill off. Those who are lucky enough to acquire one of the 1,038 bottles of Glen Garioch Virgin Oak (set for distribution in the United States in late November and early December) will surely be well-prepared for the winter weather.

Similar to the Auchentoshan, this Glen Garioch ($109.99) is matured in unused North American white-oak casks, but unlike that spirit, which offers a mellow confluence of flavors, this Highland whiskey delivers a robust medley of rich malt, chocolate, and peppery undertones. The scent of charred oak comes through much stronger in this single malt, while the spirit’s spicy character melds with sweet notes of ginger.

There’s a lot to love with this Glen Garioch expression. We recommend a generous pour and some good company—preferably fellow Scotch enthusiasts. Trust us, with a spirit this unique, you’ll find plenty to talk about. 

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