Twenty-five-year-old Isaac Pooe may be as old as some of the bottles of Glenlivet whisky he champions, but that doesn’t make him any less knowledgeable or passionate about the brand or the liquor. We asked him about his love of whisky and the trendy allure of peat.
How did you first fall in love with whisky? It’s something that I learnt from my brother. He is a big whisky fan, particularly single malt. When celebrating me passing matric, he introduced me to single malt and I have been a loyal fan ever since. To this day, whenever we celebrate a career achievement, we still celebrate in the same way.
Are you’re still a single malt man? Yes, my favourite is the Glenlivet 18 year. I enjoy the fruitiness of a single malt; it’s very smooth in texture and has a very delicate and floral experience. But I think of the Nàdurra Peated as my nightcap and enjoy having some before I go to sleep.
You mention peated whisky, which is becoming quite the trend. What goes into making a great peated whisky? It’s a practice from the olden days when they would not only use charcoal to dry the barley but also peat. I think the type of peat you use is very important as it gives subtle hints of a particular note.
What makes Nàdurra Peated Whisky different? The Nàdurra Range is the natural range of Glenlivet, which strives to return whisky to its most natural form: straight from the casket. In honor of those old school ways of serving and making whisky we introduced the Nàdurra Peated. What makes it different is that unlike other peated whiskies we don’t use peat to dry out our barley, instead we first place the distilled whisky in Bourbon barrels until it is properly aged and then, when it has rested for a period of between three and thirty-six months, it goes into barrels previously occupied by peated whisky. What you’re left with is a very subtle smokiness, signature to the Glenlivet style, allowing every note to be smooth.
It is this smokiness that makes peated whisky famously not for everyone, how do you suggest we conquer its flavours? You will always have palettes that want that smokiness and others that prefer fruitiness or spiciness. With whisky in general, it takes some getting used to, it’s a love or hate type of relationship - but it is worth it.
With peated whisky you should always have your whisky with some water. When you add room temperature water it will dilute the alcohol, not the flavours, helping to bring out the fruitiness of the whisky. But it’s just a dash of water, maybe one part water to one part whisky.
What other flavours threaded through the smoke should our readers be looking out for in the Nàdurra Peated? Because it is a cross blend whisky it will be very creamy; the body and the mouth flavors tend to be very creamy as well as the finish. You will still get subtle hints of smokiness from the peated barrels but because of the Bourbon barrels you also get hints of vanilla and tropical fruit.
What sets the whisky experience apart from any other spirit? The whole sensory experience of drinking whisky is why I enjoy it more than other spirits. Whisky is a much more elegant experience and that’s what I enjoy.