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View Full Version : Peat-malted barley from the U.S. or Canada?



schonfep
04-04-2007, 12:04
I understand that in Scotland, peat is commonly used during the barley-malting process.

I was wondering if anyone might know if there is anywhere in the U.S. or Canada where local peat is used in the barley-malting process. I've tried doing some research online, but have been largely unsuccessful in finding any use of peat in North American whiskeys -- as it certainly looks like this is not a common practice in U.S. or Canadian whiskey production. Any peaty whiskeys I've found produced in N. America just import the pre-malted and peat-smoked barley from Scotland. But if by chance anyone could help direct me to any exceptions where they do use peat in North America, I would be very grateful!

Thanks for your help. This is my first posting so please let me know if I should be more specific or anything.

DrinkyBanjo
04-04-2007, 13:16
Problem is that you cannot find peat in North America. I believe the company that does do this (McCarthy's) uses peat smoked barley malt from Scotland.

barturtle
04-04-2007, 17:11
Actually peat is found in several parts of North America, including the swamps of Florida and parts of Canada. Problem is many of the areas are now protected.

DrinkyBanjo
04-04-2007, 17:29
Peat moss or the peat they use to make a turf fire in Ireland/Scotland? Are you sure this is the same thing?

barturtle
04-04-2007, 18:17
Same thing: Sphagnum is what is known as peat moss, as it decays upon itself it forms the heavy bogs that can over extremely long periods of time turn to coal.

Major difference between the types of bogs we have here and the ones in Scotland are how they are arranged. Here they tend to be very deep as the bog has overtaken a lake and filled it top to bottom with decaying material, there it tends to be a blanket a few meters deep over marshland.

I'm currently taking an economic botany course..we spent two days on peat and one on corn and another on potatoes....seems peat is the most economically important plant on the planet (according to the professor, anyway)

DrinkyBanjo
04-05-2007, 08:30
Okay, I'll have to take your word for it. Too bad it's endangered in the States as I'd like to see what we could do with it as far as malting barley.

oldironstomach
04-05-2007, 09:29
Major difference between the types of bogs we have here and the ones in Scotland are how they are arranged. Here they tend to be very deep as the bog has overtaken a lake and filled it top to bottom with decaying material, there it tends to be a blanket a few meters deep over marshland.
Actually, the largest bogs in the US are of the raised type, covering thousands of acres in northern Minnesota.

More info here (http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/snas/coniferous_peatlands.html) and here (http://www.upperredlakeassn.com/bigbog/natural_features.htm).

barturtle
04-05-2007, 10:10
Yes exactly. The raised bogs are the type that fill in lake beds, Red Lake for instance filled in a shallow glacial lake bed. The type in Scotland and Ireland are called blanket bogs.

Decent basic wiki here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peat)

cowdery
04-05-2007, 10:19
This is a philosophical issue and reasonable people can differ, but my personal bias is that I don't see why anyone would want to mess around trying to make an American malt whiskey, peated or otherwise. The use of peat as a fuel and of barley as a staple food are both integral to the history and culture of Scotland and Ireland. They play no similar role in the history and culture of the United States. The United States has its own rich whiskey-making heritage, which has its roots in Scotland, Ireland and other European lands, but has evolved over hundreds of years in its own unique way. What is the point of going backwards and trying to duplicate something we've already moved beyond?

DrinkyBanjo
04-05-2007, 12:20
If a good whiskey comes out of the process I'm all for it, I don't care what country it comes from.

MGades
05-08-2007, 16:16
What about smoked barley?

Maybe barley (or other grains in the mash bill) smoked over apple or cherry wood would give it the smoked dimension, while staying uniquely American and using renewable resources.
I imagine hickory and mesquite would be too overpowering.


Has this been done before?

sku
05-08-2007, 17:06
This is a philosophical issue and reasonable people can differ, but my personal bias is that I don't see why anyone would want to mess around trying to make an American malt whiskey, peated or otherwise. The use of peat as a fuel and of barley as a staple food are both integral to the history and culture of Scotland and Ireland. They play no similar role in the history and culture of the United States. The United States has its own rich whiskey-making heritage, which has its roots in Scotland, Ireland and other European lands, but has evolved over hundreds of years in its own unique way. What is the point of going backwards and trying to duplicate something we've already moved beyond?

Well, if you like the taste of heavily peated whiskey, as I do, you are forced to pay top dollar for imported products. A domestic source of peated whiskey would be easier on the wallet.

And I don't know that I'd say that using peat or some other source of smoke is going backwards (anymore than the reemergence of rye whiskey or artisan cheese is) so much as a new avenue for growth and experimentation. Reinventing and reincorporating the old into the new is part of the American experience. Sometimes that means looking at the past, or what's being done elsewhere and applying it in our own uniquely American way.

TBoner
05-08-2007, 19:40
What about smoked barley?

Maybe barley (or other grains in the mash bill) smoked over apple or cherry wood would give it the smoked dimension, while staying uniquely American and using renewable resources.
I imagine hickory and mesquite would be too overpowering.


Has this been done before?

Beers stateside have done this for some time now. Most notable is the Alaskan brewing co.'s Smoked Porter, a vintage-dated beer brewed with alderwood-smoked malt. A couple of other use cherry and apple wood.

I imagine it's not out of the question that whiskey could happen down the road.

CrispyCritter
05-08-2007, 22:19
Maybe barley (or other grains in the mash bill) smoked over apple or cherry wood would give it the smoked dimension, while staying uniquely American and using renewable resources.


St. George's Single Malt uses beech and alder to smoke the grain. It's a bit on the strange side - the dominant note that I've tasted in it would be cocoa. I don't know if recent bottlings have changed.