Booze Banter

The Greatest Peat Spectacle in the World!

By Pedro Szekely from Los Angeles, USA (Los Angeles Union StationUploaded by russavia) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

If it’s hot out in La La Land then you know it must be time for the Gathering of the Peat Heads. The Los Angeles Scotch Club’s annual celebration of peated whisky descended upon the worshippers with Peatin’ Meetin’ VII. These kids may catch up to the Super Bowl or Wrestlemania in Roman numerals one day, if their livers allow. “The world’s largest festival celebrating peated whiskies” far outweighed the effects of the Summer of Drought & Heat in LA and couldn’t keep the droves (or drones) away from Union Station on a Saturday night in late September. And the historic train station in a city of motion seemed apt for the attendees that travelled from near and far around the metropolis to taste peated whisky of all kinds.

Union StationThe “Last of the Great Railway Stations”, Union Station is an Art Deco and Mission style cathedral to the great western migration to the land of dreams. But on this toasty and sunny day, it was a playpen for the whisky fans of peated juice. The courtyard gave the assembled crowd a break from the intense sun on this late afternoon that felt more like a mid-summer day than the first autumn weekend, but we know that feeling well in the Southland.

LASC Members Only time started the evening off as they were allowed to sample the club’s stash of hard-to-find and rare peated expressions. The list was long and included:

  • Laphroaig 16, Signatory, refill sherry butt
  • Highland Park Sigurd
  • Caol Ila 15, The Single Malts of Scotland, 58.8%
  • Bowmore 100 Degree Proof
  • Caol Ila 31, Cadenheads, 54.3%
  • Longrow 8, Shiraz, 58.5%
  • The Balvenie 17 Peated Cask
  • Ledaig 6, Murray McDavid, bottled in Bruichladdich(?!)
  • Bunnahabhain 13, Signatory
  • Glenlivet Nadurra, peated, cask strength, 61.5%. This one stunned the crowd as the brand ambassador said it was the only bottle in the States, and Glenlivet’s first peated expression.

And once the Members Only hour ended as the sun drifted away, all were free to roam the tree-lined courtyard and visit the various booths set up…

Jason Johnstone-Yellin manned the The Jewish Whisky Company’s table and offered up samples of their single cask peated Westland, Undisclosed Islay (is it Caol Ila?) and then forthcoming Ledaig (it’s out now and labeled Tobermory). Plus, he poured their Westland 2 year old (first fill Oloroso), Glen Moray 11 (bourbon cask), Glen Elgin 18 (bourbon Cask)…

Bryan Davis and Joanne Haruta of Lost Spirits showed off their new spirit aging system “THEA” as well as sampled out a rye aged in 4 days (!) and a new rum from Rational Spirits called “Santeria” that THEA made lickity-split. Dubious as many are about their system, the rye and rum were both well-received and quite tasty. Surely, many “pros” couldn’t tell how old they were…

Pasadena distillery, Stark, was on hand with their whisky right out of the barrel…

And Ardbeg, arguably the Kings of Peat, poured the Ten, Uigeadail and Corryvreckan. They even had free fake tattoos!  The kids love them.

There was peated cocktails, peated beer, peated BBQ for dinner, and peat blocks for sale. Not enough smoke? How about a cigar lounge for those so inclined. Live music too. No truth to the rumor that the music was peated. And, of course, the Peat Monster, roamed the grounds pouring whisky from whatever bottle he had at the time, posing for pictures and selfies, and generally up to no good. That’s why he’s there, that two-legged decomposing boggy beast. Plus, the chicks dig him.

As usual, the best part of any LASC event is catching up and visiting with the local whisky community, new and old…

Michael Kravitz played Security Guard in front of the Members Only area…

Bozzy Karasu who is recently transplanted from the east coast was quite happy at his first Peatin’…

Marshall Naiman, the ever-present one, bandied about the event as only Marshall can do…

And Lee Zaro of the South Bay Whisky Tribe was in peat heaven!

Andy Smith, the Chief Muckety-Muck of LASC overcame various obstacles getting this year’s Peatin’ Meetin’ off the ground, not the least of which was a late venue change courtesy of the place he originally reserved that cancelled on HIM! (“Why I oughta…!”) The man cares about his membership and his whisky, and was determined to make the event happen. So, he scrambled, got a little lucky, probably prayed a bit to the holy trinity (Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin), and found Union Station for what was one very special event. One can barely fathom how much work is involved to pull off one of these events. “More than anyone can possibly imagine,” say Andy. “It’s a nine-month process with a committee of club members meeting at least 10 times before the event. Perhaps a thousand man-hours are spent in preparation. On the event night, one out of every four people on site is actually working in one way or the other, whether that be food, pouring, entertainment, security, or organization.” Yikes! Too late to hire Andy to be the planner for a certain bat mitzvah coming up? His team of volunteers who do this out of love and not a paycheck nailed it again. Cheers!

Union Station and Peatin’ Meetin’ was a wonderful marriage of place and drink for the attendees according to Andy. “More people than last year and everyone loved the location! It wasn’t just that the trains were convenient; the site was gorgeous at night.”

And what was Mr. Smith’s favorite whisky of the night? “This guy… but it was only in the Members area.” The 31 year old Caol Ila.

One can only hope that the distillers of the world (You know you are!) come out and support Peatin’ Meetin’ VIII next year. Get your whisky to Los Angeles and help promote this PeatPalooza! Next year’s event is already on the calendar per Mr. Smith.” September 24th, 2016 at Union Station. Planning has begun!”

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