Watch out — you’ve got a four alarm fire on your hands here.
No need to look for any emergency exits, though. And give your friendly neighborhood firefighters a well-deserved break, yeah? Because when it comes to the smoke in this box, we’re talking more campfire cozy than inferno-like flames.
And that, friends, is a very good thing.
Smoky Spirits aren’t for the faint of heart. Our advice? Buck up that palate, buddy. Because one thing’s for certain: between their intoxicatingly charred aroma and pungent taste, these bottles are strong-willed… and irresistible AF.
It’s tough to find a middle-of-the-road opinion when it comes to smoky Spirits. They can be pretty damn divisive — either you love ‘em or you hate ‘em. But there’s definitely no mistaking them for something else. The heady scents of gasoline, smoke and a touch of mineral earthiness are crazy distinctive. You know it the second you smell it.
There are different methods distillers use to capture the scent and flavor of smoke. Some of it is entirely environmental, like the Whiskies coming out of Islay that use earthy bog peat as a source of fuel for drying out their malt. But others are experimenting with smoke in different ways; some finish their juice in smoked or peated barrels while others directly burn the ingredients that are being distilled. Either way, the result is a deliciously smoldering slap across the palate.
In this Tasting Box, you’ll find three fiery samples, each with a different smoky story to tell. Like the Bordiga Gin crew, who roasts their juniper and botanicals over burning coals. Or Bepi Tosolini Smoked Grappa, with its oak flakes smoked using Kentucky tobacco leaves sourced in Italy. And not to be left out, Kalak Peat Cask Single Malt Vodka, a Spirit that’s charred using Irish peat.
You know what they say: where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And these Spirits are straight up bringing the heat. Time to let these feisty Spirits light your fire — slainté!
1. Peat, the ingredient that gives Scotch its smoky flavor, was a precursor to coal and can be used to fuel a fire or flame.
2. There’s a good chance that humans had to evolve to enjoy the flavor of smoke. We lack specific receptors in our taste buds for smokiness and instead rely on our scent receptors to “taste” smokiness.
3. Phenols, the molecules responsible for the peaty/smoky/rubbery flavor, are broken down as Whisky matures. That’s why peat flavors are slowly lost when Whisky ages.
4. Mezcal gets its smoky flavor during production, when the hearts of the agave plants are cooked in pits in the ground in a style that's similar to that for making Barbacoa (it’s one of the best taco fillings, after all).
5. Unlike Scotch and Mezcal, some Spirits get their smoky flavors from additional ingredients like liquid smoke or smoked herbs. These are usually added to the Spirit right before they’re bottled.
6. While you might think that a charred barrel would impart a smoky flavor into the Spirit it's finishing or aging, you’d be wrong. The main purpose of charring a barrel is to change the nature of the oak itself and yield the best possible reaction between the wood and the Spirit.
7. Along with smoky Spirits, smoked cocktails are a hot (literally) trend at bars. There are two ways to add smoke to a drink: either by infusing it with smoke, or by using a smoky ingredient. Some popular methods include smoking ice or using a smoking gun.